Transferring a H1B Visa to a Green Card

 Navigating the Path to Permanent Residency for Transferring a H1B Visa to a Green Card

If you’re an ambitious professional dreaming of making the United States your permanent home, the journey from an H1B visa to a Green Card might be the pathway to realising your American dream. The process, known as the H1B to Green Card transfer, enables skilled workers to transition from temporary employment to lawful permanent residency. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the H1B to Green Card process, exploring the steps, categories, fees, and important details that can make this transformation possible. So, if you’re ready to take charge of your future in the US, let’s navigate this journey together.

Understanding the H1B Visa and Its Limitations

The H1B visa stands as one of the most sought-after non-immigrant work visas in the United States. It’s a testament to your skills and expertise, signifying that you possess a valuable occupation that is in demand within the country. Typically granted for a maximum duration of six years, the H1B visa is a temporary work permit that allows professionals to contribute their talents to US companies. However, it comes with certain limitations – after six years, visa holders are required to either return to their home country or transition to a different visa status.

Unveiling the H1B to Green Card Process

For many H1B visa holders, the ultimate goal is to secure permanent residency in the United States. This can be achieved through obtaining a Green Card, which offers the privilege of living and working in the US indefinitely. The process of transitioning from an H1B visa to a Green Card is commonly referred to as the H1B to Green Card transfer or the Employment-Based Green Card process. It’s important to note that the H1B visa is considered a “dual intent” visa, which means that visa holders can pursue permanent residency without jeopardising their non-immigrant status.

Categories of Green Cards

Before diving into the specifics of the H1B to Green Card process, it’s essential to understand that Green Cards are available through various categories, each catering to different circumstances and qualifications. In addition to the Employment-Based Green Card, other categories include:

  • Family-Based Green Card
  • Political Asylum-Based Green Card
  • Adoption-Based Green Card
  • Refugee-Based Green Card
  • Diversity-Based Green Card

Given our focus on the H1B to Green Card process, we’ll primarily explore the Employment-Based Green Card, which is a gateway for skilled professionals seeking permanent residency.

Navigating the Steps of the H1B to Green Card Process

The H1B to Green Card process is a multi-step journey that requires meticulous attention to detail and adherence to regulatory requirements. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved:

Get PERM Labour Certification

To streamline the Employment-Based Green Card process, the US introduced the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) system in 2005. This electronic system, overseen by the Department of Labour (DOL), simplifies application submission and reduces processing time.

The process begins with the employer filing for PERM certification from the DOL. This involves several stages:

  • Registration: The employer registers with the DOL online, receiving login credentials.
  • Prevailing Wage Determination: The employer obtains certification from the State Employment Services (SESAs) or State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) to ensure fair wage payment.
  • Recruitment Processes: The employer conducts recruitment efforts to prove that no qualified US citizen is available for the job. This includes newspaper ads, website postings, job fairs, and more.
  • Filing ETA Form 9089: The employer files the Application for Employment Certification, providing evidence of fulfilling requirements.
  • Obtaining PERM Decision: The DOL reviews documents and either approves or denies the PERM certification.

File Form I-140

Following successful PERM certification, the employer files Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This form signifies the employer’s intention to offer the employee the advertised wage and permanent employment.

Upon approval of Form I-140, the employee receives a priority date, indicating the processing order. If the priority date is current, the employee can concurrently file Form I-485, known as concurrent filing.

File Form I-485

Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is the final step in the H1B to Green Card process. This form allows the employee to seek Adjustment of Status, indicating the transition to lawful permanent residency.

The method of filing Form I-485 depends on the employee’s location:

  • Within the US: Employees can file Form I-485 directly, provided they hold a valid H1B visa. If the visa has expired, return to the home country is necessary, unless an approved I-140 is pending.
  • Outside the US: Employees go through consular processing, involving the US Embassy at their location. This includes various steps such as National Visa Center (NVC) processing, completing forms, visa medical examination, and attending an interview.

Navigating the Fees and Costs

The fees and costs associated with transferring a H-1B visa to a green card include:

– Registration fee: $10 for registering for the H-1B lottery.
– Basic visa filing fees (I-129 form): $460 for filing Form I-129.
– USCIS base filing fees: $460 for the basic USCIS filing fee.
– Processing fee: $757 for processing and filing the H-1B petition.
– Premium processing fees: $2,805 for premium processing fees, which is an increase of 12% from the previous fee.
– Public Law 114-113: $4,000 for Public Law 114-113, which is an additional fee for certain employers.

These fees are subject to change, so it is important to check the current fees with the USCIS before filing any applications.

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Health Insurance Considerations

Upon obtaining a Green Card, it’s advisable to secure health insurance coverage due to the high costs of healthcare in the US. Health insurance provides financial protection and access to medical services, contributing to your overall well-being and peace of mind.

Categories of Employment-Based Green Cards

Each year, approximately 140,000 individuals qualify for Employment-Based Green Cards, distributed across five categories:

  • E-B1 or Priority Workers: Reserved for individuals with exceptional abilities, including professors, researchers, managers, executives, and those with extraordinary abilities in various fields.
  • E-B2 or Professionals with Exceptional Ability or Advanced Degrees: This category encompasses those with advanced degrees, exceptional abilities in arts, business, science, and physicians serving underserved areas.
  • E-B3 or Skilled/Professional Workers: Designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees, skilled workers with experience, and unskilled workers.
  • E-B4 or Special Immigrants: Reserved for individuals who have worked for the US government abroad, religious workers, and US Armed Forces translators.
  • E-B5 or Investors: This category allows investors to create jobs and invest in the US economy in exchange for Green Cards.

The Road to Permanent Residency

The journey from an H1B visa to a Green Card is a significant endeavour that requires careful planning, meticulous documentation, and financial commitment. By understanding the steps, categories, and costs associated with the process, you can position yourself for success on your path to becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

So, as you embark on this transformational journey, remember that while the process may be complex, the rewards – including the opportunity for personal and professional growth in the US – are well worth the effort.

Ready to take the next step? Begin your H1B to Green Card process today and embark on a new chapter in your American story.