H-1B to Green Card

What is the H-1B?

The H-1B program allows highly specialized professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree, to work in the United States with nonimmigrant status. This helps employers who are unable to fulfill their employment needs within the U.S. workforce and allows them to hire qualified individuals from other countries.

Does the H-1B expire?

Yes, the H-1B typically expires after 6 years. After which, you can either: (1) renew the H-1B, (2) apply to update your status from H-1B to Green Card, or (3) extend your H-1B expiration date provided you are still working for the same sponsoring employer. 

When does my H-1B expire?

When you entered the United States, you should have received a Form I-94. This is a status document that indicates the length of stay permitted. On that document, you can find the date on which your H-1B status expires.

What is a U.S. Green Card?

A Green Card is also known as a Permanent Resident Card. It allows you to legally work and live in the United States.  

Why should I apply for a Green Card?

  • You guarantee your ability to work in the United States and can apply to many jobs.
  • You are protected by federal and state laws.
  • You can sponsor other family members that apply for a green card. 
  • You are eligible for federal and, after 10 years, social security benefits
  • You can apply after 5 years to become a United States citizen.
  • Or you can remain a citizen of your country.  

How can I get a Green Card?

  • Green Card through marriage
    • You are eligible to apply after 3 years of marriage to a United States citizen. 
  • Green Card through employment 
    • First Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-1)
      • EB-1A: Aliens of Extraordinary Ability: According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this visa is available to professionals with internationally recognized awards such as a Pulizer or Oscar. 
      • EB-1B: Researchers/Outstanding Professors: This visa is available to internationally recognized professionals with a minimum of 3 years experience researching or teaching in their respective field. 
      • EB-1C: Managers and Executive Transferees: This visa is available to multinational managers or executives who have been doing business in the U.S. for at least a year. 
    • Second Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-2)
      • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this employment-based, second preference visa is available to (1) professionals with a U.S. advanced degree and at least 5 years of work in the pertaining field, or (2) professionals with exceptional expertise beyond others in their field and at least 10 years of full-time experience. 
    • Third Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-3) 
      • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this employment-based, third preference visa is available to (1) skilled workers with at least 2 years of work experience, education, or training, (2) professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree, and (3) competent unskilled or other workers. 
    • Fourth Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-4)
      • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this employment-based, fourth preference visa is available to special immigrants such as religious workers, physicians, retired officers, members of the U.S. armed forces, and more. 
    • Fifth Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-5)
      • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this employment-based fifth preference visa is available to commercial investors of the U.S. that provide at least 10 permanent full-time jobs to qualified U.S. employees.

Do Green Cards expire?

They do expire after 10 years but can be renewed indefinitely given that you do not commit any crimes or violate any laws.

How many Green Cards are available?

  • The government is authorized to issue up to 675,000 Green Cards each year. About 480,000 or 70% are reserved for family preference immigrants, 140,000 or 20% are for employment-based immigrants, and the remaining 80,000 or 10% is reserved for the immigration lottery that is part of the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. 
  • If, at the end of the year, there are any family preference Green Cards left over, they are added to the available employment-based Green Cards of the following year. 
  • Each country is allotted only 7% of the 140,000 employment-based Green Cards available, regardless of the size of the country.

When should I file for my H-1B to Green Card?

You are able to petition for a status change from H-1B to Green Card at any time. The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa indicating that the holder has both non-immigrant status and the intention to immigrate.

Once you find the right job, it is best to apply for the Green Card as soon as possible because some visas, especially the lower preference ones, take longer to process. 

It is also important to petition for a status change from H-1B to Green Card before your H-1B expires. A petition for status change is usually not possible if your H-1B has expired. Once it expires, you no longer hold the status of a nonimmigrant worker and therefore have no status to adjust for the Green Card application. You may only remain in the United States after your H-1B expires if you have begun your Green Card application. 

The application also depends on your employer to complete several steps, which can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to approve, before you can even apply for an adjustment of status. Therefore, it is best to begin your H-1B to Green Card application as soon as possible. 

h-1b to green card

What are the steps to change from H-1B to Green Card through employment?

To update your status from H-1B to Green Card, you need a sponsoring employer and the following documents to be filed on your behalf: a Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) Labor Certification, ETA Form 9089, and Form I-140. Once those steps are completed, you must fill out Form I-485 and attend a background check appointment to officially apply for your Green Card.

  1. A Sponsoring Employer for Your H-1B to Green Card Application
    1. You need an employer to sponsor your Green Card application. This may be your current H-1B employer or a new one. 
    2. The H-1B visa petition must be filed by your employer.
  2. Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) Labor Certification
    1. This is a two step process:
      1. Your employer files with the Department of Labor to determine the base salary and benefits for your job. Your employer provides information such as: a job description, eligibility requirements, and location. 
      2. Your employer proves that they had no success recruiting U.S. workers for the job. They must illustrate this by recruiting for two weeks on the Sunday newspaper and listing with the state workforce agency. On top of this, your employer needs to do 3 more different advertisements. If these recruitment efforts fail, they can only proceed after 180 days. 
    2. Timeline: The PERM Labor Certification can take up anywhere from 6 to 19 months to process. 
  3. ETA Form 9089: Application for Employment Certification 
    1. Your employer officially petitions to hire a non-U.S. worker for the job. 
  4. Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
    1. Your employer may now file to hire you for the job.
    2. This form is where your employer petitions for you to become a permanent resident of the United States. This makes you eligible for a Green Card through employment.
    3. This form also proves that the employer can afford to pay you. 
    4. It is important for you to stay in the same job position as the rest of your application gets completed and reviewed. Promotions, changing jobs, or moving states may affect the approval of your application. 
  5. Form I-485: Adjustment of Status 
    1. Once your employer has filed everything, you will be given a priority date. The priority date is the date your application was successfully submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The U.S. Department of State posts a monthly visa bulletin containing the current priority dates. You can use this bulletin and your priority date to determine your place in the visa queue and when you can apply for the Green Card.
    2. When your priority date becomes current, you can fill out Form I-485 to apply for your Green Card. Once you have filled out this form, you will be given an appointment to verify your background and pass security checks. Your form will be rejected if you do not attend this appointment. 
  6. These steps mark the end of your application. The process is both lengthy and technical. To save the time and effort of both you and your employer, you may consider hiring an immigration attorney to assist, manage, and review your documents during the process. If approved, you will be notified and given your Green Card shortly. You will also receive a stamp on your passport. Congratulations! You have successfully updated your status from H-1B to Green Card! 


h-1b to green card


How long does it take to update my status from H-1B to Green Card?

Timeline of approval varies on a case by case basis depending on factors like the type of employment-based preference visa you fall under and the processing of the PERM Labor Certification. Getting a Green Card can take anywhere from a few months to several years and consulting with an immigration attorney can give you a clearer picture. 

What if my H-1B to Green Card application is denied? 

There may be several reasons why your H-1B to Green Card application is denied: 

  1. Misspelled, incorrect, or missing information on the application: If the information on your forms do not match the information possessed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, your application will be denied. You must also remember to provide the appropriate supporting documentation and filing fees. 
  2. Failure to attend immigration appointment: As mentioned before, you will be given an appointment to verify your background information and pass security clearance once you file Form I-485. Failure to do so means that your form is rejected and your Green Card could be denied. 
  3. Health issues: Along with the documents above, you will also need to submit Form 1-693, a Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This form needs to be completed by a doctor that is approved by the U.S. government. The form should prove that you are in good medical standing and are not a threat to yourself and others.
  4. Income and dependency issues: If you are found to have health issues or poor financial standing at time of filing, you may be denied permanent residence in the U.S. because you are viewed at high risk of becoming dependent on the government for care and financial support.  
  5. Crime and security issues: If you have a criminal record and do not provide supporting documentation with your application, you may be denied a Green Card. Further, if you are affiliated with any groups at odds with U.S. foreign policy, you can be denied. 
  6. Job change issues: If Form I-140 has already been completed and approved, your application may be denied. If you do change jobs, you can decrease denial risk by switching only after your Form I-485 has been submitted for at least 180 days and ensuring that your new job closely aligns with the descriptions listed in the PERM Labor Certification and Form I-140. 
  7. Finally, if there were any issues with the documentation submitted by your sponsoring employer, such as with the PERM Labor Certification, ETA Form 9089, or Form I-140, your application will no longer process. 
  8. Of course, it is entirely possible that an error was made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Carefully review any denial notices sent to you and check for any errors or evidence of unfair processing. 

Having your H-1B to Green Card petition denied can be frustrating, especially after the amount of time and money spent on it. This can be avoided by having an immigration attorney review your petition as it is in process. But fret not, if you have already received a denial notice, you can appeal by filing Form I-290B. Alternatively, you can refile the petition completely. These procedures can be complicated, so it may be worthwhile to consult with an immigration attorney to best help your case.