In this article (and video), you can learn about the Green Card Process steps from H1B Visa or via Employment-Based (EB1, EB2 and EB3) category process.
There are two main path’s to obtain Green Card in USA (lawful permanent resident status)
- Family-based Green Card Categories and
- Employment Based Green Card – EB1, EB2, and EB3.
P.S. there are other ways, but in the article, I’m going to focus on Employment Based Green Card Process ( EB1, EB2 and EB3 Steps) and Various stages involved.
If you are working in H1B Visa, L1B Visa or other non-immigrant work visa, you most likely to through the following steps for your Employer-Sponsored Green Card.
Note: Employment Based Green Card process is driven by Employer and cannot be self-sponsored.
Green Card Process Steps
There are three stages for Green Card for EB2 and EB3.
- Stage 1: PERM/Labor Certification Stage ( EB1 doesn’t require this Stage)
- Stage 2: I-140 Immigrant Petition Stage
- State 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status Stage
Stage 1: PERM Labor Certification
- PERM/Labor Certification stage is the first step in the green card process.
- PERM stands for Program for Electronic Review Management.
Why PERM Labor Certification?
During this PERM Labor Certification step, Employer have to prove that there are no qualified American Citizens or Permanent Residents for this positions and foreign workers not taking jobs away from U.S. citizens.
Here is an overview of what happens at work place before green card process begins:
- HR Manager notifies company’s Immigration Attorney about filing Green Card for the specific employee.
- Initial Meeting: Manager, Employee, HR and Immigration Attorney
- Job Description: Drafted, revised and finalized.
- Prevailing Wage determination request submitted to U.S. DOL (Department of Labor)
- Followed by Recruitment Phase
- If no qualified US workers identified, file application with DOL.
- Date when the application is filed with DOL is your Priority Date (PD).
- DOL processes and approves PERM Labor Certification
Processing Timeline :
- Initial Conversation to Job Description Finalization: 1 to 2 Months
- Prevailing Wage Determination : About 2 months
- Recruitment and Filing : 3 to 6 months
- PERM Labor Approval : 2 to 8 months. (as of Oct 2015, PERM approval time is 7 months)
If PERM Labor is filed 365 before H1B Expiry date, then H1B can be extended in 1-year increments.
Stage 2: I-140 Immigration Application
Next step in the Green Card process is I-140 Immigration Application. After Labor Certification Application has been certified by DOL I-140 application can be filed.
- Verify employee meets job requirements specified on the PERM/Labor Certification Application
- Verify the sponsoring employer can pay the offered wages to the employee.
After I-140 is approved, H-1B employee will be able to extend the H1B for 3 years period beyond initial 6 years.
Stage 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status
Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status, the actual green card application which will be filed after I-140 application is approved by USCIS.
Green card visa number is available based on
- Applicants country of birth
- Employment-based classification
- Priority date of the Applicant
You could be born in India and have Australian Citizenship. But, Visa number availability is based on country of birth (India).
The priority date is the date that the PERM/Labor Certification Application was filed with the DOL (EB2 and EB3).
For EB1, date I-140 is filed with USCIS is the Priority Date.
Long wait times are due to the unavailability of Green Card Visa numbers.
There is a certain number of Green card applications are made available per year per category per country.
Every month Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin, with available visa numbers based on priority dates.
While filing I-485 application, you could file for EAD and Travel Permit (Advanced Parole).
Green Card Processing Time
- People wait for 4 to 6 years in this stage in EB2 (for India)
- Several more years for EB3 (if you are from countries like India and China).
- Recently my co-worker got EB3 Green Card in Oct 2015 after 13 years Wait.
If the priority date moves back from after you file for I-485, then visa numbers will not be available.
You would have to wait till visa numbers available to get Green Card. That’s when folks apply for EAD.
What about EB1 Category?
For EB1 green card process, there are just 2 stages.
- Stage 1: I-140 Immigrant Petition
- State 2: I-485 Adjustment of Status
As you can see, there is no PERM Labor Certification step.
Plus, there is another option called National Interest Waiver (NIW) category for EB2, where PERM Labor is not required.
Green Card Article Series
- How Long Does it Take to Get Green Card in the USA for Eb1, EB2, and EB3
- Green Card Steps for EB2 and EB3 Explained ( this article )
- Green Card Visa Numbers availability for E1, EB2, and EB3
- US Green Card Waiting Time Based on Pending Applications
- Immigration Path: Steps for an F1 Visa to Become U.S. Citizenship