The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa and the US green card is an immigrant visa. Many people go to the US on the H-1B visa but ultimately settle there after getting the US green card. H-1B visa workers get an employment-based green card.
If you are planning to apply for the US green card, here are some things that will you get started with it:
1. PERM labor certification
The prerequisite for applying for an immigrant visa is getting a PERM labor certification. To get the PERM labor certification, you have to fulfill certain requirements. Once you receive it, your employer will have to file for an immigration visa for you.
2. Adjustment of status
There aren’t much steps in the process, but each process takes a lot of time. Once you get the immigrant visa, your employer has to apply for an adjustment of status of your visa. In this step, the employer requests the government to transfer your non-immigrant visa to permanent residency visa.
3. Personal interview
Before 2017, you didn’t need to appear for a personal interview. Trump government made it compulsory for every employment-based permanent residency visa applicant to give a personal interview. There is nothing serious about the personal interview. The officers only want to verify all information as mentioned in the petition. It has made the process very efficient and quickens it as well. Soon, the USCIS will start including personal interviews in other categories as well.
The USCIS started interviewing people October 1 2017 onwards. The questions are pretty general, though no one knows yet what the officials have actually asked. Most H-1B experts feel that the personal interview will be very similar to the one they ask at the US Consulate. After three years being on the US green card, you can apply for US citizenship.
The H1B to Green Card Process
The duration of the H1B visa is a total of six years including a renewal. So if you have the intention of staying in the USA for longer, you need to apply for a permanent residency or a Green Card. You need to remember that this application can only be forwarded by a sponsoring employer for a change of status of the employee from H1B to Green Card. Most workers in the technical field will fall under EB1, EB2, and EB3 employment-based Green Card categories.
This is a step by step process and is explained below.
PERM Labor Certification:
Program Electronic Review Management or PERM is a process of validation from the Department of Labor (DOL), and involves the EB2 and EB3 Green Card programmes. It is only after this certification that a Green Card can be applied for. It checks the following:
- Prevailing Wage Determination: This documentation is obtained from the Department of Labour and will require details regarding the job profile, responsibilities and location. After the DOL has received the following details from the organisation, it will subsequently issue the prevailing wage determination which the employer will quote as the base salary requirement for the concerned job.
- Recruitment: This step involves an impartial screening of the credentials of the concerned employee to ensure that no other qualified and interested American employee is excluded from the particular job opportunity. This is achieved by putting up: 2 Sunday newspaper job advertisements, a print media job post with the state’s workforce agency, and three other advertisements.
- ETA Form 9089: After completion of the above steps, the employer is required to fill up an ETA Form 9089- Application for Employment Certification- with the DOL.
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker:
If the employee qualifies for an immigrant visa and the concerned organisation has the capital required to pay the worker the wage publicised and claimed in the PERM phase, then this petition is successful.
Form I-485, Adjustment of Status:
Adjustment of Status is the final step for a Green card application and it requires the employee to fill a Form I-485. Simultaneously the worker may also register for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole.
After processing, verification and approval of the above documents and Form I-485 by the USCIS, the employee’s passport will be stamped, and later he/she shall receive the physical green card, and the process will be completed!
3 Steps from H1B to Green Card Status
H1B workers can stay and work in the USA for up to a maximum of 6 years. But after that they can extend their stay for certain period during the process of transferring of H1B to green card status. You can live in the country for the time it takes for your green card request to get approved if you possess I -140 without current priority date.
Also, having a pending Labor Certification Application can help you extend your stay. Both you and your employer have to actively take part in the process of applying for the change of status from H1B to green card. The transfer of H1B to greed card status involves the following stages:
Stages to Green Card
- Permanent Labor Certification: Your employer has to prove to the Department of the Labor that your job position requires foreign labor as there are no qualified native resources. Employers generally publish ads or post in job portals to prove non-availability of labor. Your role should also not hamper prevailing wages or job opportunities of Americans. Your employer needs to abide by the prevailing wage of your profession and pay you at least that amount. Now your Labor Certification Application can be filed after attending to few minor formalities.
- I-140 Petition: The next stage applies to the relationship between you and your employer. Permission from USCIS is required for you to be hired by your sponsor. The petition is filed after your Labor Certification is approved. USCIS goes through your application to determine whether the job qualifies for the granting of green card. They will gauge your qualifications and skills to ensure you are eligible for the job.
- I-1485 Application: You are responsible for this stage which involves applying for the green card. You will be personally scrutinized to ensure you can be granted the green card without any worries. Procedures like criminal history, background checks, medical checks, etc are carried out. If you have a wait list imposed for your nationality or job, you have to wait for approvedI-140 and a current priority date. Else, you can complete this process along with stage 2 discussed above.
The Green Card Lottery For 2019 is Now Open To Public
The ‘Green Card’ lottery for 2019 is now open in the US, according to reports. The DV-2019, or the Divisional Visa Lottery Program allows people from certain countries to officially immigrate to the US. These countries have lower rates of immigration to the US.
The registration for applications started on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 on 12:00 pm EDT. It will continue till 12:00 pm EST on 7 November, 2017. The quota for this program is 50,000 annually, which is available for people from all countries. There application process does not involve payment of any charges or fees. The eligibility criteria for this program are quite simple. However, the checking procedure and interview process are stringent. The immigrant needs to have education which is up to the level of a United States high school degree. Or, the immigrant should possess work experience that includes formal training as a part of the employment. If the applicant fails to qualify for either of the requirements, then the application will be rejected.
The US government has provided all the relevant information on www.dvlottery.state.gov. The website is very helpful in checking for requirements, and provides instructions for filling out the form. This application process is online only. The US department will not accept an applicant’s entry by the US Postal Service. The applicants should apply as soon as possible and not wait until the last week, otherwise your application can experience delays.
The US government contacts the winners of this lottery by post, email or phone. It provides a unique confirmation code to the applicants. They must print it and keep it in a secure place because the US government can not issue a new confirmation code. They can use it to check their status online. If the applicant is selected, he or she can apply for the immigrant visa. The lottery winners should pay for their interview directly to the US embassy.
Cognizant to Suspend Green Card Applications for Employees
All being said, getting a Green Card in the U.S. today is harder than ever.
According to a recent development, IT firm Cognizant Technology Solutions has declared that it will not be filing fresh appeals for green cards under the EB1 and EB2 schemes until future notifications. This move has come across as bad news for professionals who were aiming to attain permanent citizenship in the US for a better life and professional growth.
The employees were sent an email which said that the PERM applications which are for the EB1 and EB2 visa programme are being suspended until further notice to examine the advantages and efficiency of their existing internal policies to achieve strategic business aspirations. The firm, however, assured the employees that it will consider the present applications but no more fresh petitions will be registered by them anymore.
The EB2 and EB3 visa programmes target the skilled employees at the middle and lower levels. The EB2 visa category is the next step after an H1B visa regime which caters to employees with speciality occupations including science, arts, management, and many other specific disciplines. In the EB3 visa programme, the skilled workers under speciality occupations require at least 2 years of work experience, whereas professional workers need to attain a US baccalaureate degree or the foreign equivalent to the same.
This move highlights the compliance of Cognizant to recruit more American nationals, following the Trump cabinet’s policy changes to the H1B visa. This is one of the reasons behind the recruitment drive in Tampa where the IT firm hired around 1000 professionals in the business and technology arena. The firm is also tying up with locally based organisations to adhere to client requirements with the implementation of a specialised curriculum. Cognizant has hired around 4000 US employees and is looking to create at least 6000 layoffs in its Indian branches this year.
The US Might Introduce Points-Based Green Cards System
The last few months have seen much debate regarding the American visa and immigration system and the issue might have finally reached a solution.
It has been announced by the White House that the US will be introducing a points-based Green Cards
system which is similar to the immigration system of Canada and Australia. This will help skilled workers
who are very fluent in the English language to find better jobs easily.
A wide range of factors will be looked at as a part of the new Green Cards points system. This will enable
one to support oneself financially. It will also bring in skilled labour and add to the economy value of
the country, said Jason Miller, who is the Senior Advisor to the US President. The Senior Advisor also further stated that the points based Green cards system would also fulfil the merit-based immigration system, which has been one of the biggest promises of the US president Donald Trump to his country. This system will protect the economy, taxpayers and workers of the country.
They added that they would be giving more priority to skilled foreign workers than to foreign investors who just came into the country without much to offer back. President Trump also said that the immigration reforms would include salary hike, diminishing poverty levels and saving the taxpayers from having to give away too much of their earnings. He added that there would be reforms in the manner in which the US offers Green Card. It offers PR, authorization to work and a faster way to gain citizenship permit in the US.
Nancy Pelosi, a leader of the Democratic Party, stated that the determination for success, courage, hope and dreams of the overseas immigrants add to the values of US in every generation. The overseas immigrants rejuvenate the US constantly in every way.
US Adds Interview Process To Visa and Green Card Approvals
The US government has made the process of approving visas or green cards even more strict now. The USCIS requires that all applicants who wish to enter the United States for employment purposes, obtaining a permanent residence or a green card undergo an interview. The USCIS has started this phase from October 1, 2017.
The major concern among immigration attorneys and associations is the additional administration and processing delay. They are befuddled regarding the motives of the government and the USCIS behind interviews for employment based green card applicants. They did acknowledge that conducting interviews was not against regulations. However, they did not expect the sudden revocation of the waivers because they don’t believe these applicants pose any threat.
Meanwhile, the acting director of USCIS, James McCament stated that the USCIS was simply propagating the Trump Administration’s policies. According to him, these policies are concurrent to improve the integrity of the US immigration system. He added that the USCIS is collaborating with Federal agencies to integrate better vetting processes in keeping with the efficiency requirements in screening applicants.
“Not all immigrants are bad”
Even the former USCIS director, Leon Rodriguez did not expect this decision. He understood the need to upheave the immigration system in the wake of increased threats. But what he did not understand is why an aspirant on an employment basis wishing to stay in the US would pose a security risk. As per his perception, it was necessary to conduct interviews from time to time. But the were only based on concerns about the applicant.
He explained that there was no definite pattern to the threats coming in the US. Those who were detrimental to the security of the US did not favour any particular visa.
Regardless, this interview procedure is going to add delays in the applications. This is because the USCIS has made it mandatory for the applicants, as well as the dependants (except young children) to undergo that interview.
5 Advantages of A Green Card
If you hold an H1B visa and want to permanently settle in the US, you can apply for what is called a Green Card, which is applicable for a period of 10 years and you can then apply for a renewal for the same. There are plenty of advantages of Green Card possession.
The freedom to work and live in the US permanently.
This immigration scheme gives you the permission to work in the US and live here permanently. Hold any government jobs, private job profiles, anything. You won’t even require a security clearance while applying for certain jobs. No verifications or additional authorization documents required.
Freedom of movement.
When you hold a green card, you can travel to any lace in the world and return without hassle. You can even live and travel within the US, anywhere. The only time when you may have to take some measures to safeguard your immigration status is if you need to be in another country for a period of more than 6 months.
The ability to sponsor relatives.
Once you have a Green Card, you can also sponsor your relatives and unlike in H1B where they live as dependents, in this case, they will also hold green cards and they will enjoy the same right to live and work in the US.
The ability to seek US citizenship.
After living in the US for a considerable amount of time, in this case, five years, you can apply for permanent citizenship in the US and can even attain the right to vote and run for office.
The benefits and rights you get with permanent residency in the US are many. They include everything from being able to represent yourself to getting the taxation benefits you want or the insurance coverage you seek. It also entitles you to the many social security benefits, and you could even buy property in the US.
The Green Card willl give you a permanent residency status so there’s no uncertainty with reapplication procedures as in the case of other visa schemes. Once you apply for a green card and get through, you only need to renew it every ten years, which is an easy task.