I became a permanent resident in March 2023. Here how I got my Green Card, step by step.
The main paths to become a legal permanent resident in the United States (aka “green card holder”) are essentially three: the most uncommon one is for humanitarian reasons. Another one is through marriage or more generally family ties. The third one, the one I used, is through work. This means that your employer sponsors your application.
This article explores the last path, obtaining a green card based through employer, and is the story of my personal experience, getting my green card getting sponsored by my employer.
Content of this post
Entering the US on a L1b Visa
The Green Card Process in 2023
My actual Green Card timeline
The Green Card interview
The documents to bring at the Green Card interview
My Green Card Category
Coming to America (L1 non immigrant visa)
I got in the United States in March 2019 on a L1b (intra company transfer visa) thanks to my employer helping me sponsoring my application. By that time I have been working for Expedia Group, an American company with headquarter in Seattle and offices in multiple US and global location for a few years. Intercontinental flights and / or late night meeting were quite normal: moving me to the US would have been beneficial to both myself and the employer. The petition was approved and in March 2019 I moved to Chicago.
After the first amazing year I decided to stay and make my life here in the United States, My plan was to wait a couple of year more before applying but Covid happened and, together with my manager we’ve consulted the immigration lawyers working with my employer to find a way to obtain my “Green Card.”
Being a non-permanent resident of the United States I was eligible to apply to the green card via Adjustment of Status. According to the USCIS website:
Adjustment of status is the process that you can use to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as applying for a Green Card) when you are present in the United States. This means that you may get a Green Card without having to return to your home country to complete visa processinguscis.gov
The Green Card Process
The whole process was broken down for me by the paralegal following my case:
The first step requires to establish the details of the job for which you (the employee) is being sponsored: job title, job duties, job location, education and experience required to do the job.
Then the prevailing wage request (the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment) is submitted to the DOL.
The very critical step in this phase is the recruitment which last for a few months: if a qualified U.S. worker apply for the PERM position, the entire process will halt. If the recruitment process ends with no qualified U.S. worker applying the process can go on and the PERM application can be filed.
From here, the next steps will be (1) filing the PERM labor certification, (2) filing the I-140 Immigrant Petition, then (3) filing the Adjustment of Status application (the green card).
At this time, PERM applications are taking about 7-9 months for the Department of Labor to process if there are no audits, and there’s no option to expedite this. The date of filing will be your “priority date,” which is your place in line for filing the green card, based on your country of birth. The priority date will be locked in after the I-140 Immigrant Petition is approved.
Once we have an approved PERM, we’ll file the I-140 Immigrant Petition. Currently, these are also taking about 7-9 months to approve under regular processing or 15 business days under premium processing. At the time of filing the I-140, we’ll determine if your priority date will be current for filing the Adjustment of Status application (the green card itself). If you are then eligible to file, the attorneys will assess the strength of your case to determine whether it’s advisible to file concurrently with the I-140 petition. We would otherwise wait until we have an approved I-140 before filing the AOS.
The AOS itself can take between approximately 1.5-2 years to process and receive your green card. At the time of filing the AOS, we’ll also file an EAD application (work authorization) and Advance Parole (a travel document), which will take about 4-6 months to receive after filing.
In regard to travel, you must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing the Adjustment of Status application. If we file for the Advance Parole (travel document), you’ll need to remain in the U.S. until it is approved (4-6 months). There are not necessarily further travel restrictions; however, note that USCIS frequently issues biometrics (fingerprinting/photos) and interview notices on a relatively short notice (2-3 weeks in advance, and difficult to predict the timeline), both of which are typically required.
Overall, it’ll likely take 2-3 years to receive green card itself.
My Own Green Card Timeline
Took me exactly 4 years to get the Green Card from the day I got into the US via an intra company transfer, 3 years if I start counting from the day I’ve actually started the permanent residency process in March 2020.
Here is my full Timeline
- March 1st 2019: I got to the US with an L1b intra company transfer. I work for a well known global brand with a US HQ
- March 9 2020: I started the Green Card process with my company lawyers
- July 2020: Job classification submitted to DOL
- Dec 2020: Recruitment
- December 21 2021: Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker approved
- April 23 2021: PERM Labor Certification application filed
- Oct 11 2021: AOS filed
- November 29 2021: Biometrics appointment
- April 13 2022: i140 petition approval notice
- August 9 2022: i485 Case was Transferred To Another Office (NBC)
- August 10 2022: i485 A new office has jurisdiction (Chicago FO)
- August 10 2022: i765 EAD was approved
- August 11 2022: EAD was mailed
- August 12 2022: (EAD) the Post Office picked up mail containing your new card
- August 15, 2022: the Post Office delivered the EAD card
- September 28, 2022: approved Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- February 6 2023: Interview notice sent
- February 21, 2023: Interview
- February 23, 2023: New card is been produced
- February 24, 2023: Case was approved
- March 3, 2023: The Green Card was delivered to me by the Post Office.
My Green Card interview
The interview was more of a nice chat than something to worry about. The officer job is pretty much to make sure you didn’t lie on your application. These the questions (that I remember) I was asked:
- What’s your job?
- How did you get a British passport (I was born in Italy and have dual citizenship. My application was with the Italian passport)?
- Show me your birth certificate
- Show me your most recent tax records
A little bit of last minute drama: there was a problem with the fingerprint machine during the interview. The officer was every sympathetic and simply asked me to get a letter of clearance from the CPD and drop it off the day after.
What document I was recommended to bring at the interview
ID & Entry Documents:
- Original USCIS Interview Notice
- Current passport
- Current driver’s license
First Folder – (Original Biographical Documents, US immigration Documents, and Employment Documents):
- Original Biographical Documents
- Original birth certificate (please do bring English translations if documents are not in English – the translation does not need to be an original, a copy is more than sufficient)
- Social Security Card (the officer will likely request all of your social security numbers at the interview)
- Any of your prior passports containing US visas/entry stamps. Please flag each of your visa or entry stamps with a sticky note to make it easy for the officer to locate should they wish to do so
- Copies of your US immigration documents:
- Most Recent I-94s and travel history (obtained at this website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search)
- All DS-2019s indicating that you are not subject to the 2 year home residency requirement, if applicable
- All I-20s ever issued to you, if applicable
- Any EAD/AP cards ever provided to you
- I-797 Approval Notice(s) and all other immigration documents
- AOS RFE notice and RFE response (if an RFE notice was issued for the AOS)
- Employment Documents to establish current employment:
- Employment verification letters. We are preparing this and sending it to Expedia for review and signatures. We will let you know once this is available.
- 4 of your most recent pay slips (2 months)
- Most recent W-2
- Your most-recent US federal tax returns (We recommend obtaining your tax transcripts from the IRS. You can download them here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript)
- Medical unless already submitted with the application
- Copies of all of the above original documents, as USCIS may keep the original if you do not bring a copy.
- All translations that you intend carry with you
My Green Card Category
My category: EB3-1 (ROW)
AOS Filed: October 2021.
Field Office: Chicago