When is Starting the Green Card Process Feasible?

A green card, or permanent residence, allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States for the rest of his or her life. For many people, obtaining a green card is the first step in the road to U.S. citizenship. The most popular method of obtaining a green card is through employment is a PERM labor certification.

For many, the first step is a US nonimmigrant visa

The first employment visas to the US are usually nonimmigrant visas because they take less time to obtain. Nonimmigrant status is for people who enter the U.S. on a temporary basis - whether for tourism, business, temporary work, or study. Once a person has entered the U.S. in nonimmigrant status, they are restricted to the activity or reason for which they were allowed entry.

Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers

The H E L O visas are the most common employment-based non-immigrant visas.

  1. H visas: Temporary work visas for professionals (H-1B visas), agricultural or seasonal workers (H-2A and H-2B visas), and trainees
  2. E visas: For treaty traders (E-1 visas), treaty investors (E-2), and Australian business professionals (E-3)
  3. L visas: For intra-company transfers of foreign executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge
  4. O visas: For foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics

We have assisted thousands of people and we file hundreds of nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions every year.

The PERM Process

The green card process through employment takes 8-10 months and consists of three steps:

  1. Labor certification (aka PERM);
  2. I-140 Immigrant Petition;
  3. Green Card Application (Form I-485)

You may find an article on our company website helpful as well:

PERM Labor Certification

PERM Labor Certification test of the labor market which includes employer's recruitment efforts including: posting to the State Workforce Agency, 2 Sunday print advertisements, and 3 additional forms of recruitment. Following the SWA and Sunday print ads and two other forms of recruitment, we must wait 30 days from the latest recruitment for responses. Then we may file the PERM application to the DOL for certification (DOL Labor Certification processing times vary).

Immigrant Petition

I-140 immigrant petition is filed with the Certified PERM labor certification form. I-140 processing time is presently for about 5 months. Premium processing is available permitting a decision in 15 business days.

Green card Application

I-485 immigrant petition is filed upon approval of an l-140 petition or concurrently with the I-140 above. Where there is an immigrant visa unavailability the person must wait until visas become available to them. All EB3 positions, those requiring less than a Master's degree or Bachelor's degree + 5 years of experience, have to wait before they can file for a green card. When the green card is available to them the immigrant visa application processing time at the US consulate abroad is presently about 1 year.

Experienced Permanent Residence Attorneys

We are very successful in preparing labor certifications and subsequent immigrant visas and green cards for employees that need special attention. We prepare many of such petitions each year among the hundreds of those we prepare. Currently, the Department of Labor is randomly auditing about 40% of the PERM labor certification filings.

Although, we cannot guarantee your filing will not be audited. Our PERM filings are seldom audited by the DOL. Maybe that is because we prepare our filings with the audit in mind as we perform all the steps along the way. Unlike, most firms who only prepare an audit file after they receive an audit notice.

We can't be sure, but maybe our lack of audits is the result of paying attention to all these details.

Get More Information

These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information please email or call (650) 588-7100 to find out more.

The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. The law is constantly changing, and we make no warranty of the accuracy of information.

This answers most of the frequently asked questions which we receive in our office. If after reading this you have questions about immigrating to the United States or any other immigration matters, please call Litwin & Smith and arrange a consultation at either our South San Francisco or Santa Clara office. There is an initial consultation fee for the first half-hour.

We look forward to assisting you.