Obtaining a “Greencard” through Employment

Please note that the given processing times are subject to change at any time.

Legal Permanent Resident status through the labor certification process requires three steps:

  1. PERM
    1. The employee cannot be involved in this process. This is employer intensive. The overall preparation takes about six months. A prevailing wage request must be submitted to the Department of Labor and they take about 4 months to issue a determination.
    2. After the PERM is filed with the Department of Labor, the DOL takes about 4 to 6 months to certify the application. There is always the possibility of an audit, in which case, that will prolong the process for at least one more month.
  2. I-140 – After the PERM is certified, the employer files the I-140 petition. This takes about 7 months to process, but the employer can decide to premium process the petition for an additional fee. Premium processing guarantees a 15 day turnaround, however, a request for additional evidence may be issued, in which case, Immigration (USCIS) has 15 additional days to issue a decision after a response has been submitted.
  3. I-485 – after the I-140 is approved, the employee can file the I-485, I-131, and I-765 applications:
    1. I-485 is the actual “greencard” application –takes between 10 to 24 months to process after filing
    2. I-131 advance parole (travel permit) – takes about 3 to 5 months to process after filing
    3. I-765 employment authorization document (EAD) – takes about 3 to 5 months to process after filing

Some employees are allowed to file the I-140 and the I-485 together. This depends on whether the visa bulletin indicates that your specific priority date is eligible to file. The visa bulletin is updated every month. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html

USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes | USCIS

Premium Processing for FY 2020 Cap-Subject Petitions

Premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season so USCIS can best manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as in previous years. The first phase will include FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.

Starting April 1, FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on their Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, may request premium processing by concurrently filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. However, to prioritize data entry for cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will not begin premium processing for these petitions immediately. USCIS will begin premium processing for these petitions no later than May 20, 2019, and will notify the public before premium processing begins for these petitions. If a petitioner does not file Form I-907 concurrently with an FY 2020 H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status, the petitioner must wait until premium processing begins to submit Form I-907. Until premium processing begins for these petitions, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 that is not filed concurrently with a cap-subject Form I-129. Petitioners must appropriately select response “b” for Item 4 in Part 2 of Form I-129 to be eligible to concurrently file Form I-907.

Premium processing for all other FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not begin until at least June 2019. Cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status may not submit their premium processing request concurrently with their H-1B petition. These petitioners will be eligible to upgrade to premium processing by filing Form I-907 once premium processing begins for this group. USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for premium processing for cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status.

At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.

Source: USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes | USCIS

USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A | USCIS

Revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status starting on March 11, 2019.

  • Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
  • Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11.
  • Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.

Source: USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A | USCIS

DHS Announces Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program | USCIS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions…..

Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019. The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season. Petitioners may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary. USCIS will provide H-1B cap filing instruction on uscis.gov in advance of the filing season.

Source: DHS Announces Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program | USCIS