GREEN CARD APPLICATION PROCESS
The green card application process, fees, and total costs are changing constantly. It is important to stay up to date on the latest information.
Following the approval of the PERM application, the employer can file a green card application by completing the following forms:
- I-140: the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker form
- I-485: the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
The I-140 application requires information about the foreign worker, employer and job description. Current processing time is approximately four to six months, but an approved I-140 petition for EB-2 and EB-3 green card applications doesn’t instantly result in a green card. For example, workers born in China, India, Mexico and the Philippines are assigned a “priority date”, the date the relevant PERM application (Form ETA 9089) was filed with the DOL, and a spot in a queue for a green card is reserved. The length of these queues will vary by the worker’s country of origin and the green card category.
Remember, the I-140 can only be filed once the ETA 9089 permanent employment certification application is approved unless the worker is filing under preference category EB-1 or qualifies for the National Interest Waiver.
For 2017, the standard filing fee for the I-140 is $700. Check the USCIS website for more information on the total cost the green card application process.
FORM I-140 DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
- Original version of the signed and approved PERM certification documents
- Proof of the employer’s ability to pay the foreign national, such as financial statements and annual reports
- Company marketing and promotional materials
- Copies of the foreign national’s educational degree(s) and certifications
- Experience letters
- All current and previous immigration documents
- W-2 wage and tax statements
- Copy of current passport
- Copies of the foreign national’s current visa and immigration documents
The I-140 is the only stage of the green card application process that can be filed with premium processing, shortening the waiting period from four to five months to only 15 days.
Following its approval, the I-140 petition can be used to apply for extensions of H-1B status for up to three years at a time, even after maxing out. The extension acts as a bridge between the expiration of an H-1B visa and receiving a green card, which can take years. For updates on processing times and priority dates, check the monthly Visa Bulletin or visit Envoy for more information.
The last step in the green card application process is filing form I-485 to adjust lawful immigration status for the foreign national.
FORM I-485 DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
- Employment verification letter
- Completed medical exam
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Two identical passport-style photos
- I-94 arrival or departure form
- All previous I-797 approval forms
- Tax returns
- Divorce decree (if applicable)
- Military record (if applicable)
- Arrest record or criminal record (if applicable)
- Current pay stubs
Approval of the I-485 typically takes 4 to 10 months once USCIS begins processing the I-485 application.
For 2017, the standard filing fee for the I-485 is $1,140. Check uscis.gov for the latest information.