L-1B Visa To Green Card
One of the first steps that many foreign professionals take to getting a green card is applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Working in the U.S. through visas such as the H-1B, E-2, or L-1B creates the perfect platform from which a green card can be achieved. Getting from and L-1B visa to a green card can be a great way to live and work permanently in the U.S. Here’s how to do it.
How the L-1B Visa Works
First, let’s recap the steps to getting an L-1B visa in case you are considering applying for this visa in order to get your green card.
The L-1 visa is designed for multinational companies to transfer their foreign employees to a branch, subsidiary, office, or affiliate in the U.S. These employees, however, must fall into one of these two categories:
- L-1A for managers and executives of the company, or;
- L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge
If you qualify for or already hold an L-1A visa and are interested in getting your green card, be sure to read our article covering the transition from L-1A visas to EB1C green cards. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the process of going from an L-1B visa to a green card.
In order to qualify as an employee with specialized knowledge, you must have knowledge of the company’s product, research, techniques, service, or equipment that makes you indispensable to the company’s functions in the U.S. This must extend further than simply having experience in the field. You must have been working for the company for at least one consistent year in the three years prior to petitioning.
Which Green Cards are Available?
Becuase the L-1B is a work visa, we’ll take a look at the employment-based green cards that would be available to L-1B visa holders.
The first is the EB-2 green card. This immigrant visa is designed for people who possess exceptional ability in their field or hold an advanced degree in that field. To qualify for the EB-2, you need to have a job that clearly requires either your exceptional ability or your advanced degree. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn what evidence qualifies you for this green card.
The second is the EB-3 green card for bachelor’s degree holders, skilled (experienced) workers, and unskilled (inexperienced) workers. Most L-1B holders may find themselves in this category due to the specialized nature of their positions.
The other green cards, while not impossible to obtain, would be difficult for L-1B holders to qualify for and therefore unlikely candidates for your green card. These include:
- the EB-1 green card for international award winners, outstanding researchers, professors, managers, and executives.
- the EB-4 for religious workers, translators, military members, and certain Iraqis.
- the EB-5 visa for investors who are investing significant capital in a U.S. endeavor.
If you think that you qualify for any of the above green cards, make sure that your work with your immigration attorney before making any steps to be sure that you qualify and that your case ahs the best chance of approval.
How to Transition from an L-1B Visa to Green Card
Fortunately, the L-1B visa is considered by the USCIS to be a “dual intent” visa, which means that you are able to seek permanent resident status while on L-1B status. This is in contrast to other work visas such as the J-1 or TN.
No matter which green card you choose, the first step will be to ask your employer to sponsor you for your green card. If that is unavailable to you, you need to find an employer that will sponsor you. The only exceptions to this rule are the EB-1C and the EB-2 with a National Interest Waiver.
Now that you have a sponsoring employer, he or she will need to obtain a PERM Labor Certification on your behalf. This involves having your employer go through a recruitment process to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fill your position and that you are going to be paid the prevailing wage for your area.
After the PERM process is done, your employer will have to file an I-140 petition for you. The date that the USCIS receives your petition will become your “priority date”. You will need to wait until that priority date becomes current with the final action dates released in the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin. The amount of time that you will need to wait depends on the kind of green card that you apply for and your country of origin.
Once your priority date is current, you can submit your I-485 form to have your status adjusted to legal permanent resident. If you are outside the U.S., you will need to go through consular processing, which involves going to a U.S. consulate or embassy for a one-on-one interview with an immigration officer.
If you make it through all of these steps, you’ll have your green card! However, each step is complicated and difficult to do right the first time. Always be sure to hire an immigration attorney before going into the L-1B to green card process.
Now that we’ve laid out the steps, we can learn how long you can expect to wait during the L-1B to green card process.
The PERM Labor Certification usually takes about 8 months to complete. This includes the 30-day job order requirement, the extra 30-day waiting period after the job order, and the 6-month processing time for the ETA-9089 application. If your employer is subjected to supervised recruitment or an audit, this can potentially extend the PERM processing time to two years.
The I-140 has an average processing time of 6 months depending on the Service Center that is processing your petition. Once your petition is filed, however, you will need to wait until the priority date is current. For EB-1 and some EB-2 areas, there is no wait time. However, for most others, there will be a waiting period of anywhere from a few months to several years.
The I-485 also has a 6-month average time. Once it is processed and approved, you will be an official legal permanent resident, though it could take another 6 months for the USCIS to mail your green card.
All told, the best case scenario has an L-1B to green card processing time of a year and eight months. The worst case scenario depends on the waiting time for your priority date.
Can This Process Be Shortened?
Fortunately, if this processing time is too long for you, there are ways to expedite the process. This can be done in two areas: the I-140 petition and the priority date wait time.
The I-140 processing time can be shortened from six months to 15 calendar days by using the premium processing service for a fee of $1,440. If the USCIS fails to process your petition in the allotted time, then you will receive a refund of your fee.
The priority date wait time can only be shortened by upgrading or “porting” your green card petition. This is not as easy as it sounds, as you will need to acquire a new job as well as the qualifications for the higher preference level. Work with your immigration attorney to navigate this delicate process.
How Much Will It Cost?
Here is a breakdown of the fees associated with transitioning from an L-1B to a green card:
- PERM cost: free
- I-140 filing fee: $700
- I-485 filing fee: $750-$1,140. This fee is dependent on your age and refugee status. Take a look at this chart under the “special instructions” section to see where you land.
- Biometrics fee (if applicable): $85
- DS-260 fee (if applicable): $230. This is only applicable if you are going through consular processing. You will also be responsible for the $88 affidavit of support fee.
- Premium processing fee (optional): $1,440
- Attorney fee: These vary depending on the attorney. You can see the flat fee we charge for our services here.
It is important to note that your employer will be responsible for all mandatory and auxiliary costs associated with the PERM and I-140 petition. You or your employer can pay for the I-485, attorney, and premium processing fees. However, you will be responsible for all costs that go along with consular processing such as the biometrics, DS-260, and affidavit of support fee.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
As we’ve stated before, it’s never a good idea to go into something as complex as immigration law without an experienced guide and helper. Retaining an immigration attorney can help make sure that each step along the road from an L-1B visa to a green card is done right. You will also have an expert to fight for you if unexpected issues arise.
There isn’t an employment-based obstacle that the dedicated attorneys here at SGM Law group haven’t faced and conquered. If you want to know that your case is in the right hands, we’re the firm you’ve been looking for.
So if you’re interested in making the transition from L-1B to a green card status or you want to apply for an L-1B in the first place, you can fill out this contact form and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.