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So, you’ve landed yourself an offer of employment from a U.S. employer and feel ready to migrate to the Land of Hope and Glory to start the next chapter of your life. Before you begin to live the American dream, though, you must first acquire your green card.
The green card interview process can sound daunting, but you’ve already completed one of the hardest challenges in the process by securing your offer of employment. Here’s all you need to know about finalizing your right to live and work in the U.S. By handling the employment-based interview in style.
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What is an Employment-Based Green Card?
Before worrying too much about the green card interview itself, you must first understand what the green card is.
An employment-based green card is a form of documentation that ultimately allows you to live and work in the U.S. as a foreign national. Permission gained on the back of an employment offer is the second most commonly used approach to obtaining a green card, behind family-based applications.
Applicants who successfully gain an employment green card are also permitted to move their spouse and children (under the age of 21) to the U.S too. Green card applications are approved (or denied) by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
While the green card is not a form of citizenship, gaining permission to live and work in America for an extended period can potentially aid future citizenship applications too.
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What is the Employment-Based Green Card Interview?
Employers can only offer you a job when there are no suitable U.S citizen applicants. They must apply for a Permanent Employment Certification (ETA Form 9089) from the Department of Labor before offering you a position. However, the fact that you are reading this blog suggests that this 2-3 month process has already occurred. As a result, you’re now ready to complete your green card application.
A total of 140,000 green cards are awarded annually, with a capped allocation of 9,800 from each country. Before you arrive on U.S soil, the authorities will use the green card interview as an opportunity to learn more about you.
The interview is completed in person while also offering an opportunity to review the attached documents and cross-verify the originals. You can also expect to encounter several questions about your proposed employment and living status for the duration of your stay.
When seeking an employment-based green card, you’ll need to complete an employment-based I-485 application rather than a basic I-485 application. The necessary procedures are identical; the only real difference is the addition of the elements relating to your proposed employment.
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What are Employment-Based Green Card Categories?
You should note that the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authority splits and prioritizes green card applicants into five categories. They are:
EB-1 Priority Workers
EB-1 Priority Workers are those applicants with exceptional skills in the fields of science, art, business, education, and sports. Each country has an allocation of 2,802 (28.6% of applicants) green cards to be awarded under this category. While applicants under the EB-1 category do face the highest levels of scrutiny, they do also receive the biggest priority.
EB-2 Persons With Exceptional Ability
In addition to applicants deemed to possess an exceptional ability, the EB-2 category incorporate green card applicants that hold advanced degrees. They are seen to offer serious value to the country’s economy and general national interest. The EB-2 group also gains a cap of 28.6% green cards per country.
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EB-3 Skilled Workers
Applicants under the EB-3 category are professional individuals that boast at least two years of formal training or experience in their field of expertise. Each country is given a quote of 28.6%, as is the same as EB-1 and EB-2, but the rules are a little less stringent. This category can also extend to unskilled workers who possess experience that isn’t readily available in America.
EB-4 Special Immigrants
Special immigrants falling into the EB-4 category of employment-based I-485 applications may include religious workers joining a nonprofit organization, or employees and translators of the United States government stationed in other countries. The quote cap is set to 695 (7.1%) people per country each year.
Foreign entrepreneurs and investors that intend to invest at least $1 million and create ten permanent full-time positions for U.S residents can apply for their green card under the EB-5 category. Like EB-4, this category has a cap of 7.1% of each country’s total green card applications. In cases where there are fewer applications, the figures may change to $500,000 and five jobs.
The contrast in competition levels is fairly stark between one category and the next, so knowing which route to take will make a positive impact. Following the right path also streamlines the application process, including the interview phase, as the interviewers can get straight to handling your circumstances.
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The Timeline Leading up to Your Green Card Interview
If you are already in the process of preparing for your green card interview, you may have already completed several steps on the timeline below. Irrespective of what stage you’re currently at, though, it’s imperative that you know what’s still to come.
The timeline of your application, from the point of filling out your I-485 form, is as follows:
Once the USCIS receives your application, you should receive a letter to confirm this status within 2-3 weeks. The letter is referred to as Form I-797 C and confirms the initiation of the Adjustment of Status.
Biometrics Notice and Appointment
Following your acceptance as an adjustment of status applicant, a biometrics appointment will be required to record the necessary pieces of biological data while also analyzing your criminal history. This appointment takes place at the nearest USCIS Application Support Center at a set time and date.
The appointment itself is likely to last 30 minutes and will see the authorities record your fingerprint, photograph, and signature. They will also need to see government-issued photo identification ID such a driver’s license, passport, or military photo identification.
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EAD Card Receipt
An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is received by anyone that supported their application with an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and Application for Travel Document (Form I-131).
After completing the prerequisite features of the green card application, you will receive a date for your interview. As a general rule, applicants can expect to be called in between 4 and 10 months after sending off their original forms. However, this can vary massively from case to case, with some applicants able to bypass the interview altogether.
The interview notice from USCIS should additionally state which center your appointment will be at, along with the time and any additional info that may be needed.
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What Do You Need at the Green Card Interview?
You will receive a confirmation of what is required during each stage of the interview, including when you receive the interview notice. However, the list of items and documentation will likely consist of:
- Your i-94 record
- Original copies of your current passport, along with and past passports that have U.S. visa stamps and entry/exit stamps
- Your birth certificate
- Photo ID, such as the options mentioned above
- Either a separate Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole (AP) or a combined EAD/AP card
- I-140 approval notice
- Visa stamps, I-20s, I-797 approval notices or other evidence that you are a non-immigrant
- Proof of your previous employment details
- Your confirmed job offer and accompanying O-485 Form
- Your two most recent pay stubs and three years of tax transcripts
- Confirmed medical and vaccination record
- Transcripts, diplomas, and relevant documents to support your application
- Confirmed English-language translations of any documents written in your native language
By attending your green card interview with all of the above documents and items, you stand a far better chance of a quick and seamless process. This preparation will allow you to receive your work permit as soon as possible.
What Happens During the Green Card Interview?
Attending your green card interview is a scary thought, but the prospect is far worse than the reality. In truth, the vast majority of the work will be complete. The interview is primarily an opportunity for the authorities to verify who you are and the position of employment you are taking.
The USCIS officer will review your documents to check your eligibility for a green card, both as an individual applicant and in comparison to other applicants in case of oversubscription. You may be asked several critical questions during the process, including but not limited to:
- What role will you work in, and for whom?
- What are your academic and working credentials for the role?
- What is your relevant biographical data as per the green card application?
- What are your spouse’ s/child’s details?
- What are the responsibilities and salary expectations of the proposed job?
- What are the proposed living arrangements?
- What is the agreed duration of employment?
Essentially, the green card interview allows USCIS to verify that you are a worthy candidate for a green card. They also want to make sure that you will be a positive addition to the U.S. economy, either as an employee or an investor.
It may sound like you are under many scrutinies, but officials want to facilitate a quick and smooth procedure to ensure that qualified candidates receive their green cards. While every case is unique, the interview process will include a single appointment and can be final in as little as 30 minutes.
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What Happens After the Interview?
Assuming that your green card application is approved, you will receive your employment-based green card via mail. Receiving this green card allows you to accept the offer of employment and gain your permanent residence in the U.S.
Once your green card is permitted, you’ll gain access to the many benefits that any other U.S resident receives. Your green card renders the employment authorization document (EAD) unnecessary, as you’ll be able to travel to and from America as regularly as you like.
An Employment-Based Green Card Interview Won’t be as Scary as You Think
Getting your green card via an employment-based application is one of the most likely roads to success, and the green card interview will probably be required. The prospect of face-to-face interaction is a little scary, but the USCIS wants to help by making the process fast and convenient while ultimately ensuring that you get the right decision as soon as possible.
Now that you know what to expect from your employment-based green card interview, as well as how to prepare for it most adequately, nothing should hold you back.