Green Card Processing Steps Explained

Green Card Processing Steps Explained

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 17% of the American workforce is actually of foreign descent. The United States is known as the land of immigrants.

Although there are various ways that people can be qualified to remain and work as permanent residents (green card holders) in the United States, many people meet this requirement through employment-based preference categories.

Foreign nationals can receive an employment-based green card if they have a job offer from a firm with U.S. headquarters or they can demonstrate that they have what is referred to as “exceptional ability” to move to the U.S. and further their career.

Many of the individuals who later qualify for EB immigrant visas enter the country on non-immigrant, employment-based visas. A nonimmigrant visa is only valid for a short time. The H-1B visa, which is given to those with “specialty jobs,” is the most popular.

Employers may choose to apply for a more long-term EB visa that provides a route to permanent residency.

What is a Green Card?

A US green card enables foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency in the country either through sponsorship from family or employment-based.

Moving abroad is challenging enough without having to deal with the complicated green card application procedure, which differs depending on your path and takes longer or shorter depending on your circumstances.

Each fiscal year, the U.S. government issues approximately 140,000 visas to immigrants and their families who are coming for employment-based immigration. Employment-based green cards are categorized into five preference categories mostly based on the experience, talents, and abilities of the applicants. The sort of employees they admit and the treatment each of these visas receives throughout processing determine the specifics of each green card category.

You may not sponsor any green card applications directly with your employer, which means that you cannot self-sponsor this step. It is probably obvious that there are more effective options to get green cards like the Greencard lottery.

The article, however, focuses on the employment-based Green Card category and process. EB is an Employment-Based green card status and the categories within EB green card application are denoted with numbers, these are various employment types that can be sponsored for green cards.

Check out medical insurance for green card applicants from OnshoreKare.

Note: A Green Card status has several advantages for example a green card holder has the right to work for any employer. A green card status also allows you visa-free travel to the US, becoming a green card holder opens your path to a US Citizenship. You can file for an employment authorization document (EAD) along with your Green Card application processing times.

EB-1: Priority Workers (First Preference Category)

People with exceptional abilities, great researchers or academics, or those who can demonstrate some form of “continued national or international recognition” are eligible for EB-1 visas. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize or a manager or executive of a foreign company would be two examples of this.

Only a small percentage of applicants meet this requirement. The quickest green card application process is often for people who qualify under EB-1.

EB-2: Advanced Degrees (Second Preference Category)

Advanced degrees, exceptional talent in the arts, sciences, or business, or a National Interest Waiver are all qualifications for this category.

People with extraordinary or exceptional abilities who can benefit the country through educational or cultural endeavors fall under this category. This group also includes individuals working in the sciences, the arts, and business. Advanced degree holders and knowledgeable professionals with five years of work experience may apply through this category. Additionally, it offers a method of application for doctors who want to work in underserved regions of the United States.

A U.S. master’s degree or higher (or its equivalent abroad) is regarded as an advanced degree, which is a U.S. bachelor’s degree plus an additional five years of experience in the field.

A degree of expertise “significantly above that ordinarily encountered” in those fields is what is meant by exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. You must satisfy at least three of a number of requirements in order to qualify for this.

  • Official transcript attesting to your possession of a degree or comparable honor from a college, university, school, or other learning facilities in your area of exceptional ability
  • letters attesting to at least 10 years of continuous employment in your field
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Verification that you have received compensation, such as a salary or other payment, for exceptional services rendered
  • joining a professional organization (s)
  • Peers, authorities, and professional or business organizations should acknowledge your accomplishments and significant contributions to your industry or field.
  • Other evidence of eligibility that is comparable is also acceptable.

EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, or Others (Third Preference Category)

The third preference category is for people with jobs that don’t fit into the first two categories. Each of these worker categories must perform work for which there aren’t enough qualified candidates on the market in the US.

Professionals must hold a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign degree equivalent.

Skilled workers must be able to demonstrate at least two years of work experience or training.

Unskilled work that isn’t temporary or seasonal must be able to be done by other workers (unskilled workers).

EB-4: Certain Special Immigrants

Religious workers, broadcasters, and members of the armed forces are examples of “special immigrants” who qualify for EB-4 visas.

EB-5: Immigrant Investors

Entrepreneurs who invest in a commercial enterprise and intend to create or maintain 10 full-time, permanent jobs for qualified Americans typically qualify for EB-5 visas. The Immigrant Investor Program is another name for this preference category.

Multiple Category Eligibility

Generally, (with the exception of EB-4 and EB-5), the lower the reference number, the simpler the process will be for you to obtain your green card. You should think about the nation you are applying to when choosing which category to apply under if you are eligible for both an EB-2 and an EB-3 visa.

Given the shorter wait time, applicants from populous nations like China or India may prefer to submit an EB-2 visa application over an EB-3 application. However, getting an EB-2 visa may be more challenging than getting an EB-3 visa.

3 Steps to start EB Green Card application process

The first three steps in obtaining an employment-based green card (EB2 or EB3) in the US are as follows:

  1. Stage 1: Labor certification stage/PERM
  2. Stage 2: I-140 immigration petition
  3. Stage 3: I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status (AOS)

These are the actual steps to obtaining your green card now that you are aware of which employment-based category you fit into. The procedure for obtaining a green card has three main steps.

Stage 1 : Labor certification stage/PERM

“Program for Electronic Review Management” (PERM) is the procedure whereby your employer proves that you (a foreign worker) are not displacing qualified US workers from their jobs. This green card step can be completed by providing evidence such as a newspaper advertisement, that the employer was unable to find a suitable American employee for the position.

Stage 2: I-140 Immigration Petition

The I-140 Petition has two objectives.

  1. confirms that the green card applicant has met the requirements for the job listed on the PERM application.
  2. confirms that the employer is able to pay the employee the offered salary.

The filing fee for an I-140 petition is $700 for regular processing or $1,225 for premium processing.

Whether your employer selected regular or premium processing will affect how quickly the USCIS processes an I-140 petition. While premium processing can be completed in as little as 15 days, regular processing can take between 6 and 9 months. Thankfully, the majority of employers pick premium processing for this phase.

Visit the USCIS Processing Time Homepage if you would like to know your exact processing time for your I-140 Immigration petition.

Stage 3: I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status (AOS)

The final step is completing the actual green card application after the PERM/LC and your I-140 petition have been approved by the USCIS!

Unfortunately, this procedure takes the longest for applicants because there are only a certain number of green cards available for each category and each country. There are applicants who have been waiting for the USCIS to process their 1-485 applications for more than ten years.

But after processing and approval of your I-485 application, you’re done! The long-awaited green card granting you permanent residence in the United States as well as a stamp for your passport will be given to you.

Diversity Lottery Green Card

Under the “Green Cards” of the United States government — officially called the Diversity Visas Lottery Program — a lottery program for individuals who are not in school or college, or live in other states. Only people from countries with fewer immigrants to the U.S. in the past can get the chance to participate. Green card distributions are restricted to 7% across the world. Many lottery applicants live within the home country at the time they make their entry but some have been born and raised outside of the U.S.

H-1B to Green Card Process

Individuals with H-1B or L-1 visas are frequently eligible to apply for a green card, which grants them the right to live and work in the United States permanently. This is referred to as adjustment of status. Obtaining an employment-based green card entails a number of steps as well as a specific application process.

As a foreign worker on a temporary visa such as H-1B, you may be considering your options as your visa expires. Going through the employment-based green card process while on H-1B status has numerous advantages, particularly if you have an approved I-140.

International citizens who have filed a labor certification for a period of one year or a one-time application for the extension of their H-1B status can request the extension. It is not allowed in certain circumstances to submit I140s that require prior approval or the LC process is pending for a year.

In such cases, the green card will be renewed without limitation until it has been granted. It is vital that foreign workers maintain their legal immigration status/ immigrant visa while undergoing the process of obtaining a green card.

If their Labor Certification or I-140 was submitted a year (365 days) prior to the start of their exemption from the standard 6-year limit, request for an extension of their H-1B status in increments of one year (this takes into account any recaptured time abroad).

The exception is if your I-140 has been approved but your priority date is out of date (or if your LCA has been pending for a year). You will be granted an infinite number of extensions up until the point at which you can submit your green card application.

The foreign worker must maintain legal immigration status while applying for a green card or switching from an H-1B to a green card (EB-2/EB-3).

You must submit an I-485 petition to USCIS in order to do this; typically, this happens after the USCIS has already approved your employer’s I-140. Concurrent filing, which allows the I-140 petitions to be submitted simultaneously, may be chosen in some situations.

Steps to process H1-B to Green Card

  1. Consider a U.S. Employer Who Is QualifiedTo get a green card, you must first find a company that will sponsor you by offering you a job that falls under one of the employment-based categories. The majority of the U.S. employment-based green card categories require employer sponsorship. Your current H-1B employer or a different employer can be this.An employer must fulfill a number of requirements in order to be eligible to sponsor an employee’s green card application.Before starting the application process, you might need to find a new job if your current employer doesn’t meet these requirements. Additionally, not all H-1B job openings satisfy the criteria for the green card adjustment.

    This means that in order to obtain the necessary work experience for your preferred employment-based category of a green card, you might also need to change your current job position or take on roles with greater responsibility.

  2. Employer to Submit PERM Labor CertificationA PERM Labor Certification is required from your employer. This entails that the prevailing wage must be established and ultimately paid as your salary, a thorough hiring process must be conducted to ensure that no U.S. workers are available for the position you will fill, and an ETA 9089 form must be submitted.
  3. Hold off until the priority date becomes current.Your priority date is the day your petition is received by the USCIS. Before proceeding to the last step, you must wait until your priority date is updated.
  4. Submit Form I-485.Once you have a current priority date, you can submit the I-485 form to the USCIS to request a change of status. You will get your green card if it is accepted

How quickly can the employment-based green card process begin? H-1B to GC:

As an H-1B visa holder, you can begin the process of changing your status to one of permanent resident as soon as your employer is prepared to sponsor you.

Tens of thousands of applications for green cards based on employment are submitted each year to be processed, this process enables an H-1B visa holder to become a lawful permanent resident.

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are two of the organizations involved in this process. The DOL process typically takes six months, and the USCIS process also takes several months.

How long does the green card process take from start to finish?

The service center where your petition is processed will largely determine how quickly your application will be processed for an EB green card. The number of required steps in the process will also affect the overall processing time.

The first 60 days are usually taken to receive a Permanent Residence Card. If your immigration visa was used you can get a permanent residency card within one month.

I-140 Processing Time for 2022

Your immigration petition is the I-140. The I-140 verifies the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) labor certification job requirements as well as the employer’s financial capability to pay the employee the offered wage. A Form I-140 is necessary for all EB green cards.

Although it largely depends on the service center, the I-140 processing time is typically 6 months. You’ll typically receive an estimate from service centers, but keep in mind that these are only estimates.

The processing time for Form I-140 is reduced to 15 calendar days by the USCIS’s premium processing service. The cost of premium processing is $1,225.

EB-1 Green Card Processing Time

For people with exceptional abilities in science, art, education, business, or athletics, the EB1-A immigrant visa is an employment-based, first-preference option. You must demonstrate in your application how your knowledge and abilities will help the United States.

Because the PERM labor certification process is not required for EB1-A visas, processing times are accelerated.

The service center where your application is processed will have a significant impact on how quickly you receive your EB-1B green card. It may take up to six months from the time your I-140 form is submitted to the USCIS for your “Extraordinary Ability” petition to be processed and approved. Premium processing might be something to think about.

Processing will be completed in 15 calendar days with premium processing. A premium processing fee of $1,225 will be charged.

You still need to submit your Form I-485 after your I-140 has been approved once you’ve reached your priority date. The processing time for Form I-485 is also about six months.

To find out which priority dates have become current, consult the visa bulletin for the current month.

EB2 Green Card Processing Time

The EB-2 green card is available for advanced degrees, exceptional ability, and National Interest Waiver. The processing of your Form I-140 typically takes six months. It may even take up to 8 months to 2 years if you need to go through PERM Labor Certification.

Through premium processing, you can hasten the processing of your Form I-140. Your processing time will be reduced from 6 months to 15 calendar days for a fee of $1,225.

EB3 Green Card Processing Time

The EB-3 category is for those who are either skilled workers with at least two years of experience in the relevant field, skilled workers with a bachelor’s degree, or unskilled workers.

Following are the processing times for each EB-3 green card application step:

PERM Labour Certification – this process can take as little as six months, but keep in mind that both the 30-day recruitment period and the 30-day post-recruitment period must pass. This process could take up to 18 months if your employer needs to be audited.

I-140 petition- If you don’t use premium processing, the I-140 petition typically takes six months. If you pay $1,225 for premium processing, it will take 15 days.

Priority date- Depending on your country, you may have to wait for your priority date. It takes a few months on average.

Form I-485 – Depending on your service center, the Form I-485 may also take six months or longer.

Bottom Line

It should go without saying that the duration of the green card application process can vary greatly depending on your eligibility and the nation from which you are submitting your application. However, a green card is your best option for obtaining permanent resident status if you intend to live in the United States.