I was on student visa and I am currently on OPT. My OPT expires in January and I am applying for OPT extension after that. Can my company during that apply for a green card for me instead of applying for a work visa? What do they have to do and what do I have to do? If so, how long does it typically take?
Depending on your country of birth, it can take from a couple of years to decades (China, India).
Mr. Shusterman's (former INS Trial Attorney, 1976-82) response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Shusterman's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Yes, it may be possible for your company to apply for you to immigrate to the United States. However, the labor certification process is a long and tricky road. You must be "in status," generally speaking, in order tonaplly for adjustment of status in the United States. The filing of a labor certification application by an employer is just the fisrt step which will accord you with a "priority date" from which you may have to wait until you qualify to submit your adjustment application. The. length of wait depends upon a variety of factors such as country of origin, which category of employment-based visa you are seeking, etc. It may be advisable to apply for an H-1B visa first, so that you have sufficient time to process a labor certification and/or adjustment of status application. The labor certification and adjustment of status process may take many years to complete and is not an easy undertaking. It is highly recommended that you consult with an immigration lawyer to who can review the facts of your situation and explain all available options.
Your current employer can initiate the process of applying for the PERM on your behalf while you hold the F-1/OPT. However, that is not a normal procedure for an employer to forgo obtaining for the foreign employee a temporary worker status such as the H-1B. Subsequent to that PERM application, the employer will then have to file the FORM I-140. Finally, the FORM I-485 will then be filed for the adjustment of status. The process can take years depending on your nationality. You should ask your employer regarding the company's policy about processing for the resident status.
Considering you are applying for an OPT extension, I am assuming you are a STEM degree graduate. If your current academic background and work experience satisfy your employer's prerequisites for PERM, ask your company to go ahead. Immigrant visa availability; however, will depend on your nationality coupled with the unpredictable processing / audit times of our Department of Labor. But, getting in line at once and securing a priority date is the right thing to do. In addition, because the H-1b visa allows for dual intent, your employer should strongly consider applying for an H-1b by April 1, 2016, regardless of your PERM processing status.
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