What is the H1B to Green Card Timeline?

H1B to a Green card timeline is lengthy. It becomes easier when you know what to expect.

H1B to Green Card Process

An I-485 petition must be submitted by any foreign worker to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order for the worker to maintain his or her lawful immigration status while their Green Card is being processed.  Of course, this is after the service has already approved the worker’s I-140. In rare instances, the I-140 and I-485 may be filed and submitted at the same time.

In order to quality under an employment-based green card, there has to be an employer who will employ the worker in a position. This employer may be a different employer or the worker’s H1B employer.  The employer should then get a Program Electronic Review Management Labor Certification (PERM). This certification can be obtained after a recruiting effort is conducted to ensure that the foreign worker will not be filling a position that a U.S. worker is available to fill. At that time ETA 9089 form can be filed. The foreign worker’s wage should be the same as the prevailing wage.  Once the PERM is approved the employer should file an I-140 Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service then receives the petition a priority date will be provided.  The final step can only be taken when the priority date is current.  An adjustment (of status) can be applied through filing of the I-485 form to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service once the priority date is current.  Finally when the I-485 is approved a green card is given to the foreign worker.

Consequence of Delaying the Green Card Process

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is asked to have the status of a worker adjusted from a legal H1B visa to a green card through the filing of the I-485 petition.  If an H1B expires then the foreign worker’s status cannot be adjusted because technically the worker is not in status. Typically, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service would deny any request made while the foreign work is out of status, further consequences may also follow from this.  To properly follow the procedural steps involved in moving from H1B to green card status means that you will avoid delays and denials. The best way to handle this lengthy process is to seek a qualified immigration attorney with experience navigating the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

When Does My H1B Status Expire?

Expiration of a foreign worker’s H1B status occurs on the date listed on the I-94 Arrival/Departure documentation. The I-94 card is received by the foreign worker at the time they entered and were inspected upon entry into the United States.  This card would have been provided to them by the port of entry officer who conducted the inspection. In addition, this expiration date may be found on the H1B approval document given to the foreign worker when they changed status. Finally, this expiration may also be found in the database of Customs and Border Protection where an electronic form of the I=94 resides.  There is a ten-day grace period granted to a foreign worker to make preparations to return to their home country or to find a way to extend their H1B status.

Regaining H1B Status After Expiration

As written in section 214.1(c)(4) regulation 8 C.F.R., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service would be able to extend the H1B status of a foreign worker if they met this criteria:

  • The filing of extension by the applicant or petitioner was delayed due to unexpected circumstances outside the foreign worker's control.
  • If the foreign worker meets the above criteria then no violation is recorded to the foreign worker's nonimmigrant status, they continue to be a non-immigrant and they are not subjected to deportation or any removal proceedings.

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