The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows multinational companies to transfer employees from their foreign offices to their offices in the United States. One of the common questions that arise among L1 visa holders is how long it takes to obtain a green card after being on an L1 visa. In this article, we will explore the timeline for transitioning from an L1 visa to a green card and the factors that can affect this process.
Understanding the L1 Visa
Before diving into the timeline for obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa, it is essential to understand what an L1 visa is and its purpose. The L1 visa is designed to facilitate the transfer of employees within multinational companies. It allows companies to bring their foreign employees to the United States temporarily to work in their U.S. offices.
The L1 visa has two subcategories: L1A and L1B. The L1A visa is for executives and managers, while the L1B visa is for employees with specialized knowledge. Both categories have different requirements and durations, but the overall process for obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa is similar.
The Purpose of the L1 Visa
The primary purpose of the L1 visa is to allow multinational companies to transfer their employees from foreign offices to their U.S. offices. This visa category is particularly beneficial for companies that have a significant presence in multiple countries and need to move their employees around for various projects and assignments.
The L1 visa also provides a pathway for these employees to eventually obtain a green card and establish permanent residence in the United States. This is a significant benefit for employees who wish to settle in the U.S. and continue their career with the company.
L1 Visa to Green Card Timeline
The timeline for transitioning from an L1 visa to a green card can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the applicant’s eligibility, the specific green card category, the processing times of USCIS, and any potential delays or issues that may arise during the application process. However, we can provide a general timeline based on the typical process.
Step 1: Labor Certification (PERM)
The first step in obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa is the labor certification process, also known as PERM (Program Electronic Review Management). This process is required for most employment-based green card categories and involves the employer demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position.
The labor certification process can take anywhere from several months to over a year, depending on various factors such as the backlog of applications and the complexity of the case. It is crucial for the employer to start this process as early as possible to avoid unnecessary delays.
The PERM process involves several steps, including job advertising and recruitment efforts, to prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position. The employer must also provide a prevailing wage determination and submit an ETA Form 9089 to the Department of Labor.
Step 2: Filing Form I-140
Once the labor certification is approved, the next step is to file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This form is submitted to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and establishes the employee’s eligibility for a green card.
The processing time for Form I-140 can vary, but it typically takes around six to eight months. However, premium processing is available for an additional fee, which guarantees a response from USCIS within 15 calendar days.
The Form I-140 is a crucial step in the green card process as it establishes the basis for the employee’s immigration to the U.S. The employer must provide evidence of their ability to pay the offered wage and the employee’s qualifications for the position.
Step 3: Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
After the approval of Form I-140, the employee can proceed with either adjustment of status or consular processing, depending on their circumstances.
Adjustment of status is the process of applying for a green card while remaining in the United States. This option is available to individuals who are already in the country and meet certain eligibility criteria. The processing time for adjustment of status can vary, but it typically takes around six to twelve months.
Consular processing, on the other hand, is the process of obtaining a green card through a U.S. embassy or consulate in the employee’s home country. This option is suitable for individuals who are outside the United States or prefer to go through the process in their home country. The processing time for consular processing can also vary but is generally similar to the adjustment of status timeline.
The choice between adjustment of status and consular processing depends on various factors, including the employee’s current location, immigration status, and personal preferences. Both processes have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is essential to consider all factors before making a decision.
Step 4: Form I-485 and Form DS-260
For those opting for adjustment of status, the next step is to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used to request a green card while in the United States.
For consular processing, the employee will need to complete Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application. This form is submitted online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
Both Form I-485 and Form DS-260 require supporting documentation, such as medical examinations, police certificates, and proof of financial support. It is essential to ensure that all the required documents are submitted accurately and promptly to avoid any delays in the processing of the application.
The Form I-485 and Form DS-260 are critical steps in the green card process as they provide USCIS with the necessary information to make a decision on the green card application. It is crucial to fill out these forms accurately and provide all the required supporting documents to avoid any potential issues or delays.
Step 5: Biometrics Appointment and Interview
After the submission of Form I-485 or Form DS-260, the employee will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, USCIS will collect the applicant’s fingerprints, photograph, and signature for background checks.
Following the biometrics appointment, the employee may be called for an interview with a USCIS officer. The purpose of the interview is to verify the information provided in the application and assess the applicant’s eligibility for a green card. The interview is typically conducted within a few months after the biometrics appointment.
The biometrics appointment and interview are essential parts of the green card process. The biometrics data is used for security checks, while the interview allows USCIS to verify the information in the application and assess the applicant’s eligibility for a green card.
Step 6: Green Card Approval
If the USCIS officer is satisfied with the applicant’s eligibility and all the required documentation, they will approve the green card application. The employee will then receive their green card, granting them permanent residence in the United States.
The time it takes to receive the green card after approval can vary, but it typically takes a few weeks to a few months. USCIS will mail the green card to the applicant’s designated address.
The approval of the green card is a significant milestone for the employee as it grants them permanent residence in the United States. They can now live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, and they also have the option to apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain period.
Factors Affecting the Timeline
While the timeline provided above gives a general idea of the process, it is essential to note that several factors can affect the overall timeline for obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa. These factors include:
- Backlog of applications: USCIS processes green card applications in the order they are received. If there is a significant backlog of applications, it can result in longer processing times.
- Country of chargeability: The applicant’s country of chargeability can also impact the timeline. Some countries have a higher demand for green cards, resulting in longer wait times.
- USCIS processing times: USCIS processing times can vary depending on the workload and resources available. It is essential to check the current processing times regularly to have an idea of the expected timeline.
- Request for evidence (RFE): If USCIS requires additional evidence to support the green card application, it can significantly delay the process. It is crucial to respond to any RFE promptly and provide the requested documentation.
- Administrative processing: In some cases, additional administrative processing may be required, particularly for individuals from certain countries or with specific backgrounds. This can add significant delays to the overall timeline.
These factors can significantly impact the timeline for obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa. It is essential to be aware of these factors and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth and successful green card process.
Obtaining a green card after being on an L1 visa is a significant milestone for individuals looking to establish permanent residence in the United States. While the timeline can vary depending on several factors, understanding the general process and being prepared can help streamline the process. It is crucial to consult with an immigration attorney or seek professional guidance to navigate through the complexities of the L1 visa to green card transition successfully.
The transition from an L1 visa to a green card can be a complex and lengthy process, but with proper planning and preparation, it can be a smooth and successful journey. It is essential to understand each step of the process, from the labor certification to the final green card approval, and to be prepared for any potential issues or delays that may arise. With patience and perseverance, the dream of becoming a permanent resident of the United States can become a reality. Book a free consultation
Blog written by Global Immigration Partners PLLC
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