Frequently Asked Question - Employment Based Green Card Process
- How long does the green card application process take?
- How much does a green card application cost?
- Who will pay the fees associated with my green card application?
- Does one have to hold H-1B status when filing a green card application?
- Can my H-1B status be extended while my green card application is pending?
- Can a green card application be filed for me if I previously held J-status?
- Can I work with any immigration attorney?
- What does the university approval process for green card application for faculty look like?
- If I hold a staff or Other Academic Appointment (OAA) position and I meet all the criteria for an exemption, does that mean my unit will automatically sponsor me for a green card?
- To qualify for green card sponsorship for a staff position without an exemption of the four years of consecutive employment requirement in the policy, must I have been employed for four consecutive years in a full-time position?
- Can one apply for a green card from abroad?
- Can multiple green card applications be filed for the same person?
How long does the green card application process take?
This depends on a variety of factors, including the type of application (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) as well as one’s nationality (as determined by one’s country of birth). The application procedures for the different employment based green card classifications vary. If one is born in a country for which there is a backlog of green card applications, the process may be delayed significantly. Based on your type of application and your nationality, the process may take anywhere from several months to several years.
How much does a green card application cost?
The cost of the green card application depends on a variety of factors, especially the employment based application category and the fees charged by the attorney. If a Labor Certification is needed, the cost of the application process will be significantly higher than if one is not required. While the applications fees associated with the green card process are set by the government, attorneys charge varying fees that depend on several factors. It is very important that one discusses the costs of the green card application up front with the attorney who handles the case.
Who will pay the fees associated with my green card application?
Generally speaking, the University of Chicago will only bear those costs and pay those fees that it is legally obligated to pay - such as the costs associated with the Labor Certification process. Whether or not the University will pay any additional fees is determined on a case-by-case basis. Please discuss this with the Human Resources Administrator in your department.
Does one have to hold H-1B status when filing a green card application?
No. One does not have to be in a given non-immigrant status in order to apply for a green card. However, unlike individuals in other non-immigrant statuses, such as J-1 or F-1, H-1B status holders do not need to be able to document that they intend to return to their home country. The fact that an H-1B status holder has a pending green card application does not negatively impact him or her when traveling. If one were in a different common immigration status such as B, F or J, having a pending green card application will prevent the person from obtaining a new visa and may prevent the person from entering the U.S. in that immigration status.
Can my H-1B status be extended while my green card application is pending?
Yes. As long as one’s green card application process is started when that individual has at least one full year of H-1B eligibility (out of a total of 6 years) left, the H-1B status can be extended in one-year increments. This is true regardless of one’s country of origin. If one cannot complete the last step of the green card application (i.e. file the I-485 “Adjustment of Status” with USCIS) because of the per country backlog, the H-1B status can be extended in three-year increments. This is true regardless of when the green card process was started. If it is not possible to extend your H-1B status, you may be able to continue to work on the basis of an EAD (Employment Authorization Document), which can be requested when your I-485 is filed.
Can a green card application be filed for me if I previously held J-status?
Yes. The fact that you previously held J-status does not make you ineligible for a green card, unless you are subjected to the two-year home residency requirement. If you are subject to this requirement, you are not eligible for a variety of immigration benefits, such as H-1B status or a green card, until you have either served out the two-year home residency requirement or have obtained a waiver of the requirement.
Can I work with any immigration attorney?
That depends on the type of green card application that is being filed. If you are self-petitioning for a green card (by using, for example, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver option), you are free to select your own immigration attorney. However, if your green card application requires the sponsorship of the University of Chicago, you must have formal approval to work with an immigration attorney other than the attorneys at the immigration law firm the University of Chicago generally works with. It is essential that you obtain this approval before you sign any contracts with any immigration attorney.
What does the university approval process for green card application for faculty look like?
Foreign nationals who are hired into a faculty position at the University of Chicago are generally sponsored for a green card, if needed. The approval process is initiated by the hiring department, or, in the Biological Sciences Division, the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA). The department/OAA will contact the Office of Legal Counsel to obtain the authorization to start the green card process. Once the request has been approved by the office of Legal Counsel, the department/OAA will contact the faculty member to start the actual green card process.
If I hold a staff or OAA position and I meet all the criteria for an exemption, does that mean my unit will automatically sponsor me for a green card?
No, not necessarily. While the various University of Chicago policies on green card sponsorship allow for the sponsorship of individuals in staff/Other Academic Appointment positions if several criteria have been met, individual units have their own policies that may or may not be more restrictive than the overall university policy. Therefore, we strongly urge you to consult with your department’s Human Resources Administrator to discuss your long term plans and to determine whether green card sponsorship may be feasible and, if so, under what conditions. It is recommended you have this conversation as soon as possible.
To qualify for green card sponsorship for a staff position without an exemption of the four years of consecutive employment requirement in the policy, must I have been employed for four consecutive years in a full-time position?
No. Your employment with the University of Chicago during the four year period may be of a part-time nature. However, to qualify for green card sponsorship, the position for which the green card will be sponsored must be full-time.
Can one apply for a green card from abroad?
Yes. However, several employment-based green card application types require that you have a full-time position. If that is the case, it may not be practical to file from abroad (if at all).
Can multiple green card applications be filed for the same person?
Yes, though this is not necessarily recommended. It is possible to file multiple green card applications in different employment-based categories (EB-1, EB-2 etc) at the same time. Whether or not this is a good idea in a given scenario should be discussed with an immigration attorney. Should a green card application that was filed on your behalf in the past be denied, it is possible to file a new application in the same (or another) employment-based category. However, this does not mean that you should or that the University will file any green card application to see if it goes through. If it were to be denied, this denial will be on your record and may complicate future green card applications.