H1B visa holders can stay and work in the United States for a maximum of 6 years. Once they have reached their 6-year limit, H1B employees may either return to their home country or apply for permanent residency, also known as a Green Card, and begin the H1B to green card process.
Only a sponsoring employer can petition for an employee to change from H1B to green card status. H1B visa holders whose employers have elected to sponsor their green card should begin the H1B to green card process, in which the employee undergoes a change of status from H1B visa holder to permanent resident. Most technical workers fall under EB1, EB2, and EB3 employment-based Green Card categories.
The typical path to a green card from H1B status consists of a series of steps. The steps to green card from H1B visa status are outlined below.
Step 1: PERM Labor Certification
PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) is the first step in obtaining a green card from H1B status and is required for the EB2 and EB3 employment-based green card categories. Once the PERM labor certification is approved by the Department of Labor (DOL), the petitioning employer can file the Green Card petition. The PERM labor certification includes prevailing wage determination, recruitment, and ETA From 9089.
Prevailing Wage Determination
The first step is to obtain a prevailing wage determination from the DOL. The Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) request provides details to the DOL regarding the job duties, job requirements, and job location. The DOL will then issue the prevailing wage determination, which the employer will use as the base salary requirement for the job.
In this phase, the employer goes through a series of mandatory recruitment processes. This recruitment phase is intended to ensure that no qualified and willing American workers are available to fill the open position. There are three basic recruitment requirements: 2 Sunday newspaper job postings, a job posting with the stateâ€™s workforce agency, and three other advertisements.
ETA Form 9089
Once the prevailing wage has been provided and the recruitment steps are complete, the employer must file ETA Form 9089, Application for Employment Certification, with the DOL. ETA Form 9089 may be filed electronically or by mail.
Step 2: Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
Upon approval of ETA Form 9089, the petitioning employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Form I-140 establishes that the alien is eligible for an immigrant visa based on employment and that the U.S. employer has the funds and assets necessary to pay the worker the wage advertised in the PERM phase. If the employeeâ€™s priority date is current, Form I-140 can be filed simultaneously with the I-485 Application to Adjust Status. This is known as â€œconcurrentâ€ filing.
Step 3: Form I-485, Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status is the process of applying for permanent residency in the US and the final stage of the H1B to green card process. To file for Adjustment of Status, the employee must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. During this phase, the employee may also apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole.
Once USCIS processes and approves Form I-485, the employee will receive a stamp in his or her passport and later receive the physical green card, having successfully changed his status from H1B to green card holder.
For more information about applying for a Green Card from H1B visa, visit Employment-Based Green Card.