WHEN CAN I SAFELY LEAVE MY EMPLOYER AFTER GETTING MY I-485 APPROVED?
Once your employment sponsored I-485 is approved, you are a lawful permanent resident able to work for whomever you wish (or not at all). Many attorneys, myself included, advise you to not change positions or employers until 180 days or six months from the date of filing the I-485 or after approval.
AC-21 Serves as Guidance for Green Card Job Portability
While AC-21 doesn’t govern the situation where the I-140 is approved, and the person leaves the employer after the I-485 is approved or within 180 days of receiving their green card. The AC-21 Rule may serve as guidance to be considered. When the lawful permanent resident does leave the petitioning employer within 180 days of receiving a green card, we sometimes advise postponing the filing of naturalization another six months or a year.
Many employees cannot change employers, or receive a promotion, because USCIS may subsequently determine them ineligible for a Green Card. This leaves many employees stuck with the petitioning employer and working without the chance of promotion or pay increase for the duration of their employment-based green card petition.
What if I change employers before the I-485 is pending 180 days?
If the I-140 is yet to be approved, the I-140 may be withdrawn, and the I-485 denied.
If the I-140 is approved and the I-485 is pending. Your I-485 application cannot be denied solely because you left your employer before 180 days have passed. The government can issue an RFE to determine if the original offer of employment was a bona fide job offer. It also requires the new employer to file an I-485J to confirm the new employment is with the same or similar position as the approved I-140.
We have heard anecdotes among practitioners that the issue of intent may arise if you seek naturalization, and I have had this question raised in a naturalization interview. The USCIS reserves its right to revoke your lawful permanent resident status, though I have not seen this happen in our practice.
While an approved I-485 may give you the ability to work for whomever you wish, there are risks. Consult an experienced immigration attorney.
About Litwin & Smith
The attorneys at Litwin & Smith have over 40 years of immigration experience with complex immigration issues and successful filings.
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