The Importance of Staying in Lawful Status With Green Cards
Part of the reason for the high demand for an H-1B visa is its “dual-intent” characteristic. This factor allows the holder to “temporarily” live and work in the US while seeking permanent residence through a Green Card application at the same time.
Technically, the two three-year allotments provided by the H-1B visa should be plenty of time for the beneficiary to obtain a Green Card. However, many people who began their applications with time to spare are finding themselves facing the end of their last H-1B term. Per USCIS rules, visa beneficiaries applying for Green Cards have an automatic “in status” term while the application is pending.
This doesn’t apply to Green Card holders seeking naturalization before their card expires. But, as with the H-1B visa requests, there’s a significant backlog in this area, leaving the holder faced with a difficult choice. Although they did everything they were supposed to do in a timely manner, the backlog of USCIS petitions forces them to decide whether to return home and start the process all over again or stay illegally in the US.
If they remain in the US, they’re considered “out of status.” Once a person is placed in this category, it’s hard for them to get approved for another visa or a Green Card in the future.
Making it “Fair” for the Filer
The good news is that USCIS recognizes this dilemma and admits that it is their “fault.” Current proposals in legislation aim to correct the problem in the future with a budget overhaul that will speed up the process. But those in the trenches right now fall through the cracks.
Rather than “punish” lawful permanent residents applying for naturalization, USCIS changed its policy to allow a longer automatic extension of the person’s Green Card. They must continue to stay legally in the US, but once the Green Card is granted, it doesn’t expire. The card itself does, but USCIS’s automatic extension eliminates the requirement to apply for an extension for 24 months.
The Form N-400, Application for Naturalization will undergo revision stating this change. “Expired” Green Card holders can use this form and their card to prove their continued legal status for residency and employment.
This extension receipt applies to Green Card holders applying for naturalization on December 12, 2022, or after. If you applied before this date and your Green Card is expiring, you’ll need to fill out and file Form I-90 requesting an extension or head to your closest district office to receive an ADIT/Form 551 stamp in your passport. However, the buffer of a two-year window for any new applicants will provide USCIS officials the breathing room they need to catch up on everything before December 12, 2022.
If you’ve employed an H-1B visa holder who transitioned into a Green Card resident, you still need to file paperwork and follow government regulations. Your legal immigration expert at Visa2US can guide you through the process to ensure you and your employee are staying on the right side of the law.
Contact us today for all your H-1B visa needs. Our professional immigration law experts are available and ready to help 24/7, all year-‘round.