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The Complete Guide on the H1B to Green Card Process Thumbnail

The Complete Guide on the H1B to Green Card Process

6 MIN READ

Are you ready to switch your H1B visa to a Green Card? Your plan may have always been to stay in the U.S. all along, smoothly transitioning from H1B to Green Card. Or maybe you got your immigrant visa to get practice working in the States, and you're not ready to settle down in the U.S.

Whatever your reason, read on to learn what it takes to get Green Cards and permanent residency. You'll learn about the H1B, Green Card, and how to transition from one to another. 

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What is an H1B Visa?

The H1B Visa in the U.S. is a non-immigrant work visa. The visa allows companies to hire employees who have graduated from university to fill specialized positions. 

You'll usually qualify for an H1B Visa if you have an education in any of the following areas:

  • IT
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Science 
  • Medicine
  • Among other things

The H1B Visa process is quicker than the Green Card method, making it the popular choice for employers looking to bring in long-term foreign employees. The H1B visa is unique in that individuals cannot apply for the classification, but must have an employer nominate them. 

There's a caveat with H1B visas in that the government places an annual cap on them. Per year, 85,000 new H1B visas are made available. Among those, 65,000 are for those with a Bachelors's and 20,000 are for those with a more advanced degree. 

Related Article | How to Check the Status of Your H-1B Visa Application

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is an employment-based immigration visa. The card allows migrants to become permanent U.S. residents through a couple of methods:

  • First, if you have a family member already in the States, you can apply for permanent residence. 
  • The second, and more common method, is to petition for the green card through employment. 

The U.S. government divides the work method of getting a Green Card into five categories:

  • An EB-1 goes to multinational executives/managers or those who are exceptional in sports, art, science, education, or business.
  • An EB-2 goes to master's degree holders who studied medicine, science, or teaching. 

The other three categories cover other work-immigrants:

  • An EB-3 goes to skilled workers with at least two years of expertise in their field or people who hold master's degrees not included in the EB-2. 
  • An EB-4 covers religious workers and U.S. Foreign Service employees, among others. 
  • Finally, the EB-5 covers investors who put a minimum of $900,000 into a U.S. business that has at least ten employees. 

Related Article | What You Need to Know About Getting a Temporary Green Card

What Other Forms of Employment Visa are Available?

There are a variety of temporary worker visas available in the United States. Among others, there are the temporary agricultural and non-agricultural worker visas, and the trainee or distinctive education visitor. You can also get an employment visa if you are an international athlete or an entertainer. 

If I Already Have an H1B Visa, Can I Apply for a Green Card?

Yes, all H1B visa applicants are eligible to apply for a green card after their H1B expires, because the visa is dual-intent. If a permit is of dual-intent, that means that you have the option to submit paperwork for a green card.  

The process of going from H1B to a green card is a tad complex, and the procedure will take some planning. 

Let's go over exactly what you need before you start on the method known as the Adjustment of Steps. 

Related Article | Green Card vs. Visa: What's the Difference?

The H1B to Green Card Application Process

The Adjustment of Steps process is specific, detailed, and will take time. You'll need to be patient to see successful and get your Green Card. 

You'll go through three steps before being able to transfer. 

Step 1: Apply for the PERM Labor Certification

Your employer must apply for the PERM (Permanent Labor) Labor certification in your name. 

In this form, your employer will: 

  • Set your wage
  • Prove no qualified U.S. candidates suit the position 
  • Fill out an ETA 9809 form

Step 2: Submit the I-140 Form

After the PERM certification is approved, file the I-140 form, also known as the Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your application, the office gives you a priority date.  

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until your term is current to perform step three as a foreign national. 

Step 3: Submit the I-148 Form

The I-148, or the adjustment of status form, is the final step. You'll have to file the I-148 to your local USCIS office to continue. After approval, the customs office will stamp your passport, indicating your new status as a Green Cardholder. 

Related Article | How to Get an H1B Visa Interview Waiver

When Does My H1B Visa Expire?

After six years with your H1B visa, you can either renew, apply for a green card, or return to your home country. Upon initial entry to the U.S., you received an I-94 document. The I-94 card will tell you the exact date that your H1B ends. 

You can change the date of your H1B visa if you decide to stay with the same employer. The updated day will be on your USCIS approval documents. For an electronic copy of your I-94, go to the Customs and Border Protection database website. 

How Long Will My Green Card App Take?

Each step of the process will take a certain amount of time. Be prepared to spend anywhere between 6 months to 2 years transitioning from an H1B to a green card. 

  • The PERM Certificate takes 6 to 18 months. 
  • Your I-140 approval depends upon your priority date and your country of origin. 

Though wait times vary broadly, the U.S. government has resources in place so you can get a rough estimate of your specific wait time. If your green card looks like it will take a while, you can always renew your H1B. 

Related Article | An Immigrant's Guide To Building A US Credit Score

How Much Will My Green Card App Cost?

If you are an H1B Visa holder, your employer will pay for part of your fees to transfer to a green card. The legal fees, usually ranging anywhere from $2000 to $5000, are paid by the employer. The application fees, $580 for the I-140 and $1070 for the I-485, are either paid for the employer or the employee. 

In total, the green card application process costs around $10,000, with a portion of it falling onto your shoulders as an employee. 

Related Article | 8 Ways To Get Extra Income While On An H1B Visa

Understand the H1B to Green Card Process

The green card transfer process can be complicated and seem overwhelming, but you don't have to go through it alone. If you have any questions or concerns not addressed in this article, we can help you plan your transfer from an H1B visa to a green card.

At MYRA, we specialize in providing immigrants with the help they need and the knowledge required to complete each step of the Green Card process. 

Contact us today to begin your journey from H1B visa holder to Green Card carrier.

MYRA provides personal finances for international and multicultural families in the United States. Our services include financial planning, investment management, and tax preparation. 

To learn more, Click Here. To get started, Click Here.