Get USA Green Card Process – H1B Employer Sponsorship

Anil Gupta  3 Mar, 19      43  USA

Apply for Green card while you are in USA working on H1B or L1 work visas. Employer sponsored GC process has 3 main steps:

#1 – US Green Card PERM

PERM labor certification processing can take up-to 15 months (1.2 years) in total with No premium processing available.

PERM process has multiple sub-steps and all have to be completed by your sponsoring employer, usually the H1B or L1 sponsor.

PERM Purpose: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issues PERM to certify that there are no qualified Americans available or qualified to perform the job, and that hiring a foreign national will not harm the wages and working conditions of American workers.

Green card process for USA - A snapshot
Green card process for USA – A snapshot

  1. PERM Publish job advertisements 2-3 months

    PERM meaning: The employer has to show recruitment efforts, including publishing two Sunday newspaper ads, over a period of 2 to 3 months before the PERM application can be filed.

    The employer’s financial documents are required to prove their ability to pay the wage offered at the time of PERM filing.

    You can start PERM when an H-1B transfer is under process.

    PERM Q&A.

    All the paper work for the job applications received, interviews taken (if any) and interview rejections (if any) have to be maintained by HR.
    DOL (Department of Labor) can ask for all these if your case comes under Audit later.

    Related: How to get FBI Police Clearance Certificate for USA Green Card Interview

  2. PERM Prevailing wage determination 1-3 months

    Prevailing Wage Determination identifies the minimum salary that an employee should get at the work location (city) that your employer wants you to work.

    Check current prevailing wage determination time here.

  3. File PERM with DOL

    Your employer might ask you to get the Skill letter for Green card and ‘Experience letters’ from your past 5 working years.

    Note that Skill letter is different than Experience letter.

    These letters are not required immediately, but would be required if your PERM application is selected for audit.

    The PERM application is generally filed electronically; and the DOL (Department of labor) reviews the application and requests an audit, or issues the certification.

    There is no filing fee for PERM.

    You can file 7th year H1B extension if your PERM is pending for 365+ days including Audit.

  4. PERM Processing Time

    The PERM 3 steps can take up-to 13 months.

#2 – Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition

i140 processing time is 6-8 months in regular application. i140 premium processing gets approval in 15 days.

I-140 application is filed by sponsoring employer and locks your Green card priority date.

You can apply H1B transfer using pending I-140 at the time of job change.

The i-140 approval notice shows GC priority date, immigrant visa category, and country of charge-ability.

The I-140 must application has to be supported by the approved PERM application.

Sample i797 approval for I140:

Spouses of H1B worker with approved I-140 approved can file for H4-EAD work permit.

#3 – I-485 Green Card Application 12-15 months

Form i485 can be filed to get US green card when your country’s priority date becomes current.
USCIS issues an immigrant visa (called Green Card) to the applicant and any dependents (spouse and/or children) under 21).

The status of the applicant is adjusted from “non-immigrant” to “immigrant.” (Lawful permanent resident status).

I-485 fees

Current i485 filing fees

I-485 EAD card

i485 EAD processing time is usually 90 days. i485 EAD is issued for period of 1-2 year and can be renewed until i485 is pending.

I-485 Processing Time

I485 processing time varies from 10 to 12 months depending on your priority date remaining current at the time of approval for your country of birth.

The USCIS will send the actual “green” card within 1 to 3 months or the applicant can go to their local CIS office to have his or her passport stamped at that time to permit foreign travel.

The employee should show their Green Card to the H.R. department to update I-9 form.

Green Card Processing Time?

The total time from start to finish for an employer sponsored Green card is based on the country of birth specific queue. Most of the countries have immediate GC availability except China & India.

India has the longest waiting time in terms of GC availability.

What this means is that if you are an Indian and started the GC process in 2014, you can’t file i485 application unless your country’s Priority date date reaches 2014.
So, the total time apart from the timings mentioned above (for 3 mandatory paper work) is this waiting time for your country’s queue to reach your year.

   Read all 43 Q & A

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  1. Hi Anil..thank you so much for the effort that you’re putting in.
    My priority date is Aug, 2011. I have approved 140 from my previous employer in EB2. My current employer filed my perm 6 months back. I am planning to file I140 in next few months.
    1.Lets say Eb3 becomes current in Feb 2020. If i have an approved 140 in Eb2 by that time, can i downgrade to Eb3 anytime after february(say april 2020) ? Does the date have to be current? Not sure how it works when dates move back.
    2. I actually got a better job opportunity now but stuck with the dilemma that i am so close to the priority date and i might miss the date during the switch. Is it wise enough to switch companies right now? (assuming new company starts the process in 6 months and i will have I140 with them by end of 2020).

    Thanks for your help!

    • Anil Gupta   2 Mar, 19 at 11:43 pm

      EB2 to EB3 downgrade is possible as and when your priority date gets current in EB3 India visa bulletin.

      As per my estimate, you have lot of time as neither EB2 India nor EB3 India will reach April 2011 in next 4 years.

      • Thanks for your prompt response.
        General question, lets say Eb3 becomes current in Feb 2020. If i have an approved 140 in Eb2 by that time, can i downgrade to Eb3 anytime after february(say april 2020) ?

        • Anil Gupta   3 Mar, 19 at 11:38 am

          If you read the article that I linked earlier, it has clear answer to your scenario.

  2. Hi Anil – thank you so much for this platform and answering everyone’s questions here. I have some questions about the 180 day portability rule:

    1) It is my understanding that you may be able to change jobs after your i-485 has been pending for 180 days. What does it exactly mean for the i-485 to be “pending”? Does it mean 180 days since the day the i-485 has been filled and received by USCIS?
    2) What is the benefit of waiting for the i-485 to be pending for 180 days before changing jobs vs. changing jobs after i-140 being approved?
    3) What process must you go through with your new employer if you change jobs after 180 days of i-485 pending to continue with your GC?

    Thanks again in advance.

    • The 180 day period should be counted from your i485 receipt date.

      Changing jobs after i140 approval is useful for people who’s i485 has not been filed yet as their GC priority date is not yet current.

      I have not written about the process for new employer but they need to file supplement J form with their i140 to prove that they can offer you the same or similar job that your pending i485 has been filed with.
      I will try to do a write up on list of steps soon.

      • Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll be looking forward to your post with the list of steps.

        Regarding your answer to my second question, if the GC priority date is current, is there any benefit to waiting 180 days after i485 receipt date to change jobs vs. changing job after i140 approval? Or is this the same thing?

        • Which GC chart you are talking about?
          ‘Date of filing chart’ or ‘Final Action’ date chart?

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