How to Change From H-1B to a Green Card

If a United States company wishes to employ someone who is a citizen of another country, it must first petition for permission from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applying to obtain permanent resident status for the person based on employment is one option, however the approval process may be lengthy. Another option is to apply for an H-1B visa for the person, which will allow the employee to enter the country and work for a period of up to three years. The approval process for the H-1B visa is generally much shorter. The employer may then apply to change the employee's status to permanent resident (green card holder) during the three-year H-1B visa period.

Things You'll Need

  • USCIS Form I-140
  • USCIS Form I-485

Instructions

    • 1

      Complete USCIS Forms I-140, Immigrant Petition Alien Worker, and I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which are available on the USCIS website. Form I-140 is the actual application for permanent residence. Form I-485 must also be completed. as the employee is changing status from an H-1B non-immigrant visa holder to an immigrant permanent resident.

    • 2

      Gather any supporting documents requested. Supporting documents will vary depending on the circumstances, but may include proof of the applicant's education or work experience as well as information regarding the applicant's position at the company.

    • 3

      Copy the forms and supporting documents for your records. Mail the forms along with the required filing fees, which will vary depending on the situation, to the address indicated on the USCIS website (see Resources).

Tips & Warnings

  • Note that you must allow enough time for the change of status and petition for permanent resident to be approved. If the worker's H-1B visa runs out before the permanent resident petition is approved, the worker may -- or may not -- be allowed to remain in the country while the application is being processed. However, if the H-1B visa runs out and the applications to change status and petition for permanent resident have not been filed, the employee must leave the country.
  • The employer must complete and submit these forms on the employee's behalf. An employee cannot, on his or her own behalf, petition for permanent residence based on employment.
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