What is the H1 B visa for?

From the H-1B visa to the green card

The H-1B visa is the most popular visa for non-immigrants who want to enter and work in the United States. It stands for a good educational qualification and pronounced specialist knowledge of the visa recipient and shows that he is pursuing a respected profession. An H-1B visa is usually valid for a maximum of six years. At the end of this period, the immigrant must leave the United States and return to his home country. He has ten days of leeway in which to arrange the journey home.

However, many who immigrated to the United States on an H-1B visa wish to stay longer than six years. To do this, they need a so-called green card, a permanent residence permit. By receiving the H-1B visa, the chances of getting a green card are good. Some of the requirements that applicants have to meet for a green card already apply to the H-1B visa and are accordingly met.

The transition from the H-1B visa to the green card is called transfer or employment-based green card, since the workplace in the USA plays a decisive role in the allocation. There are also other categories of green cards:

  • Based on family affiliation
  • For political asylum seekers
  • For adoptees
  • For Refugees
  • For more diversity and integration

It sometimes takes months or even years for an application to become an employment-based green card. Applicants have to go through a number of steps and overcome some bureaucratic hurdles. Because the process is so complex, many rely on a professional lawyer. With this help, applicants can more easily meet the relevant deadlines and find all relevant documents and fill them out correctly.

There are three main steps necessary to obtain a green card if the applicant already has an H-1B visa:

  1. Obtaining a so-called PERM Labor Certification, an employment confirmation
  2. Completion of application I-140 for foreign workers
  3. Completion of application I-485 to change residence status

Since each step requires submitting a few documents and can quickly appear complicated, this article explains everything important in the following sections. This is how you get your green card successfully and stress-free. The most important information right at the beginning: The application for an employment-based green card must be made by the American employer. Employees cannot apply for a green card on their own initiative.

For this reason, it is first of all important that the applicant finds employment in the USA and that the employer willingly supports the application process for a green card.

The way from the H-1B visa to the green card

  1. Obtaining confirmation of employment

In 2005, the US government introduced a new platform that made it easier to apply for an employment-based green card. The Program Electronic Review Management Platform, abbreviated to PERM, is subordinate to the Ministry of Labor. The process is carried out online, saving applicants not only paper but also a lot of time.

The employer who supports the application process must first register with PERM, as the confirmation is important in the further course of the process. To do this, the company must take the following steps:

  • Registration with the Ministry of Labor
  • Approval of the proposed salary
  • Carrying out the application process
  • Application for the document ETA 9089
  • Receipt of the PERM confirmation

Registration with the Ministry of Labor

Every employer who would like to support a green card applicant must first register with the Ministry of Labor. It works online. There the company receives a user name, a password and a PIN. There is a detailed description of how the registration works on the Internet.

Approval of the proposed salary

The employer is generally required to pay the foreign employee the wages customary in the industry. In order for the government to ensure that immigrants are not exploited and poorly paid, the company must obtain confirmation that it is paying adequate salaries. Confirmation is available from employment offices, for example.

If the company receives the letter, it can forward it to the Ministry of Labor. The approval must be valid at the time of forwarding.

Carrying out the application process

If the amount of the salary has been officially confirmed as sufficient, the company must prove in a second step that there are no suitable American applicants for the vacancy. For this reason, the company wants to hire a foreign candidate and supports the application process for a green card for him or her.

To prove that no US applicant is eligible for the position, the employer must do the following:

  • For three consecutive days, the company has to print a job advertisement in two different newspapers. One of these publication days must be a Sunday. The newspaper in which the application is printed must be published in the vicinity of the company and the open position.
  • Alternatively, one of the two job postings can be printed in a national newspaper.
  • In addition, the search for an American applicant can include the following steps:
    • Post a job advertisement online
    • Advertise at universities
    • Advertise at job fairs
    • Switch radio or television searches
  • The name of the position, a detailed description, the required qualifications and the name of the company must be clearly visible in all job advertisements.

Once this application process is complete, the company will write a report on the process showing that, in fact, no suitable American has been found. In this letter, the employer should describe exactly what efforts he has made to find a candidate. The company must explain in detail why applicants have been rejected. If other employees have recently been made redundant, the employer should also state in the letter that they were not eligible for the vacant position. If all of these conditions are met, in the end only the foreign candidate remains for the position and therefore has a chance of getting a green card.

All efforts may be closely monitored by the Department of Labor. In any case, the employer should keep all relevant documents for at least five years so that he can answer inquiries from the authorities.

Application for the document ETA 9089

The next step is to apply for the document number 9089. This can be done online or by post. In this document, the company declares that it meets all the conditions and that the vacancy is suitable for the foreign applicant.

Receipt of the PERM confirmation

If all relevant documents have been received by the responsible authorities, the employees check them and can then refuse or approve the confirmation. In some cases, they will request additional documents before making the final decision. It usually takes 45 to 60 days to receive the PERM confirmation.

  1. Application for document I-140

The next step in the H-1B process for obtaining a green card is to submit the I-140 letter. After PERM has already confirmed that the proposed salary corresponds to the industry, it is hereby proven that this salary actually reaches the employee. In addition, the applicant confirms that he is suitable for the position.

When filling out this document for the first time, the candidate will receive a visa number along with a date. This date indicates when the authority is processing the case. If this date is not too far in the future, the applicant can directly fill out another form, namely I-485.

  1. Completion of document I-485

The last step to the green card has to do with the I-485 form. The applicant declares that his / her residence status has changed from temporary to permanent.

The immigration authorities will check the submitted document for completeness and correctness and, if necessary, confirm the permanent immigration of the applicant. There are two ways to change your status as a candidate:

If the candidate is in the United States at the time of filing, they can complete I-485 and do nothing else. The only requirement is that the H-1B visa is still valid at this point. If this is not the case, the candidate must return home and apply for a green card from there. However, there are some exceptions, for example if the employee has a valid I-140. In this case, he may be able to stay in the USA indefinitely until the application process has ended.

If the candidate is outside of the US, all documents can be requested through the local US embassy. In this case, the application process is as follows:

  • If the immigration authorities confirm the employer's application, they will send this confirmation to the visa center.
  • The Visa Center assigns a processing number that you send to the employer and employee.
  • If the specified date is approaching, the applicant must pay the fees.
  • The Visa Center will then send Form I-864 for the candidate to complete. The cost is around $ 700.
  • The applicant then fills out Document DS-3032, unless they have a valid H-1B visa and apply for the process online. In this case, he must fill out Document DS-261 and send it to the Visa Center.
  • The applicant then receives an information package and Form IV from the authority. The costs for this are around $ 400.
  • Once all the documents have been filled out, an interview will take place with the applicant. Accompanying family members also take part in the conversation. You should do all medical tests beforehand.

Regardless of whether the application is made within the US or from outside, the immigration service will make a decision and inform the candidate about it. If the application is approved, the applicant first receives a stamp for his passport. The actual green card will be available later. You have now successfully switched from the H-1B visa to a green card and are a permanent resident of the USA.

Employment-based green card categories

There are around 140,000 employment-based green cards annually. Every country receives from it

7% (9,800 people), regardless of how big the country is or how many candidates are applying from that country. There are five groups of applicants who can switch from an H-1B visa to a green card. Each of these groups receives the same share of the 140,000 green cards. The categories are as follows:

E-B1 or special, preferred employees

Only a few applicants are qualified enough for the first category. The processing time is usually short. The following people can apply for E-B1:

  • Excellent scientists or professors
  • Managers and executives
  • People with special skills in business, art, science, education or sports

There are 2,802 E-B1 places for each country, in addition to the places in the other categories.

E-B2 or employees with a high level of education or excellent skills

Annually, the US government issues 2,802 visas of this category, plus the places on the E-B1 visa that have not been issued. E-B2 includes the following applicants:

  • People with special skills in art, business or science
  • Applicants with higher educational qualifications (master's or doctoral degree)
  • Medical professionals working in areas where the US has a shortage of skilled workers

E-B3 or professional workers

For this category, 2,802 places as well as the unused places of the E-B2 visa are provided. The following applicants qualify for an E-B3 Green Card:

  • People with a bachelor's degree
  • Employees with at least two years of professional experience or training
  • Unskilled workers

E-B4 or special immigrants

Every year, 695 visas in this category are reserved for E-B4 applications. Can apply:

  • Individuals who currently or previously worked for the US government
  • Clergy
  • Interpreters and translators working for the U.S. military

E-B5 or investors

The Immigration Service issues a maximum of 3,000 visas in this category each year. Qualified are investors who create at least ten full-time positions in the United States and invest between $ 500,000 and $ 1,000,000 in the American economy.

Fees for the green card

Getting an employment-based green card is an expensive endeavor. Both workers and companies have to bear some costs. These include:

  • Legal Fees - A company pays between $ 2,000 and $ 5,000 legal fees to apply for PERM certification. Documents I-140 and I-485 cost thousands more dollars and are paid for by the employer or employee, as agreed.
  • Advertising costs - depending on the type of job posting, the company has to pay more or less advertising costs. It can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The employer pays them.
  • Application Costs - Document I-140 is $ 580 and I-485 is $ 1,070 per applicant. The costs can either be borne by the company or the candidate himself.

Overall, a green card application can quickly cost up to $ 10,000. However, if the application process is successfully completed, the applicant can legally and indefinitely live and work in the USA.