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Permanent Work

  • U.S. businesses that cannot find workers in the U.S. with sufficient skill or that need more workers than are available may petition to be allowed to hire foreign nationals from outside the U.S.
  • This generally requires an employer to file an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (along with several others forms and supporting documents)
    • For individuals in particular employment categories (EB-2 [but not NIW] and EB-3), the employer must FIRST submit an application to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) attesting to the fact that no American workers were ready, willing, and able to fill the jobs for which the foreign national is being hired and that hiring the foreign national will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. citizen workers.
      • This is known as a Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification
      • Employers may submit the labor certification application to the DOL online or by mail. Supporting documents do not get submitted at the time of filing, but all documentation must be complete prior to filing. For example, the employer must conduct all required recruitment activities and have all recruitment documents (such as website printouts, newspaper tear sheets, job orders, etc.) gathered and saved in case of an audit.
        • If DOL selects a case to be audited, the petitioning employer must submit all requested documentation within a specific period of time. If the employer fails to do this, the case can be deemed abandoned and the employer may have to conduct “supervised recruitment” in the future.
      • If the labor certification is approved, an Immigrant Petition should be filed with USCIS before the certification expires.
    • If/when the petition is approved, the foreign national will have to either:
      • Adjust status (if he or she is living in the U.S.) or
      • Complete consular processing (if he or she is living outside the U.S.)
    • The time at which a foreign national can Adjust Status or complete Consular Processing is partially determined by the type of work the foreign national will be doing and partially by the foreign national's country of origin.
      • Approval of an I-140 Petition holds a person's “place in line” on the long list of people who want immigrant visas, and he or she will only be able to take the next step once an immigrant visa becomes available.
    • There are several different categories of employees, and even people who fit into a category will still have to meet other requirements.

STEP 1

Many things, including how soon the foreign national may apply to Adjust Status or complete Consular Processing, are generally determined by what type of work the foreign national will be doing:

  • Approval of the Beneficiary/employee’s I-140 Petition will hold his or her “place in line” on the long list of people who want immigrant visas, and he or she will only be able to petition to adjust status or complete consular processing once an immigrant visa becomes available.
  • The higher the “preference level”, the sooner the Beneficiary/employee will be able to immigrate.

Categories of employees:

  • EB-1 (Employment-Based 1st Preference) for Priority Workers:
    • Persons with extraordinary abilities
    • Outstanding professors and researchers
    • Certain multi-national executives and managers
  • EB-2 (Employment-Based 2nd Preference):
    • Professionals with advanced (or equivalent) degrees
    • Persons with exceptional ability in science, art, or business
    • Persons eligible for National Interest Waivers
  • EB-3 (Employment-Based 3rd Preference):
    • Skilled workers (jobs requiring two years or more training or experience)
    • Professionals (without advanced degrees)
    • Unskilled workers (jobs requiring less than two years training or experience)
  • EB-4 (Employment-Based 4th Preference) for Special Immigrants:
    • [See list below]
  • EB-5 (Employment-Based 5th Preference): Immigrant Investors
    • Job creation outside of targeted areas
    • Job creation inside targeted rural / high unemployment area
    • Investor Pilot Program, not in targeted area
    • (More information about EB-5 visas can be found on USCIS's website here.)
  • Persons with extraordinary abilities
    • Must show evidence of extraordinary ability through sustained national or international acclaim that is recognized in their field through extensive documentation. This can be shown by receipt of a one-time achievement (ex. Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Oscar Award, BAFTA Award Olympic Medal, etc) OR by evidence of at least 3 of the 10 following Criteria for Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability:
      • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
      • Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
      • Published material about Beneficiary in professional or major trade publications or other major media
      • Have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
      • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
      • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media 
      • Work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases 
      • Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations 
      • Command of high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
      • Commercial success in the performing arts
  • Outstanding professors and researchers
    • Must have at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the particular academic field; must be entering the U.S. to pursue tenure or be tenure track at an institute of higher education; must have an offer of employment from the prospective employer; and must show international recognition of outstanding achievements in the particular academic field. This can be shown by receipt of at least 2 of the following items of Documentary Evidence of Outstanding Work as Professor or Researcher:
      • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement 
      • Membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement 
      • Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field
      • Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
      • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field 
      • Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field
  • Multinational executives and managers
    • Must show evidence of:
      • Previous employment outside the U.S. (for at least 1 year of the 3 years immediately prior to the petition) in a managerial or executive capacity at the foreign corporation whose U.S. parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate will be employing Beneficiary in the future
      • Future employment in a managerial or executive capacity at the U.S. parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate (that has been doing business in such capacity for at least 1 year) of the foreign corporation for which Beneficiary previously worked that is now petitioning to employ him or her
  • Professionals with advanced (or equivalent) degrees
    • Job must require an advanced degree, and Beneficiary must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years of progressive work experience in the field)
    • Documentary Evidence showing that Beneficiary has a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree, provided by the following:
      • Official academic record showing that Beneficiary has a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree,or
      • an official academic record AND letters from current or former employers showing that Beneficiary has at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty.
    • Offer of permanent full-time employment
    • PERM labor certification
  • Persons of exceptional ability in sciences, art, or business
    • Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business”
    • Documentary evidence of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, provided by meeting at least 3 of the following Criteria of Ability:
      • Official academic record showing a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to area of exceptional ability
      • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience the occupation
      • License or certification to practice the profession or occupation
      • Evidence of salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates exceptional ability
      • Membership in professional association(s)
      • Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to industry or field by peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
      • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable
    • Offer of permanent full-time employment
    • PERM labor certification
  • Persons eligible for National Interest Waivers
    • Aliens seeking a National Interest Waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it would be in the interests of the United States that the alien work here permanently. 
    • Though the jobs that qualify for a NIW are not defined by statute, NIWs are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose permanent employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation. 
    • Seekers of NIWs may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
    • Documentary evidence of exceptional ability, provided by meeting at least 3 of these Criteria of Ability: 
      • Official academic record showing a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating in the area of exceptional ability
      • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation
      • License or certification to practice the profession or occupation
      • Evidence of salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates exceptional ability
      • Membership in professional association(s)
      • Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
      • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable
    • Do NOT need offer of permanent full-time employment

Spouse and children under the age of 21 may be admitted to the United States in E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively. During the process where Beneficiary and his or her spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), the spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

  • Skilled workers (jobs requiring two years or more training or experience)
    • Demonstrate at least 2 years of job experience or training
    • Performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States
    • Offer of permanent full-time employment
    • PERM labor certification
  • Professionals
    • Demonstrate that you possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign degree equivalent, and that a baccalaureate degree is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation
    • Performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States
    • Education and experience may not be substituted for a baccalaureate degree
    • Offer of permanent full-time employment
    • PERM labor certification
  • Unskilled workers (jobs requiring less than two years training or experience)
    • Capable, at the time the petition is filed on Beneficiary’s behalf, of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than 2 years training or experience), that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.
    • Offer of permanent full-time employment
    • PERM labor certification

Beneficiary’s spouse may be admitted to the United States in E34 (spouse of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW4 (spouse of an “other worker”). During the process where Beneficiary and his or her spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), the spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  Beneficiary’s minor children (under the age of 21) may be admitted as E35 (child of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW5 (child of an “other worker”).

  • Special Immigrants are the following:
    • Religious Workers
    • Broadcasters
    • Iraqi/Afghan Translators
    • Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States
    • International Organization Employees
    • Physicians
    • Armed Forces Members
    • Panama Canal Zone Employees
    • Retired NATO-6 employees
    • Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 employees
  • Generally, Beneficiary’s employer must file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant to request such classification.
    • There are certain situations where the Beneficiary may self-petition (file on his or her own behalf)
  • There is a statutory cap of 5,000 workers who may be issued a special immigrant non-minister religious worker visa during each fiscal year. There is no cap for special immigrant religious workers entering the United States solely for the purpose of carrying on the vocation of a minister.
  • Beneficiary’s spouse may also be admitted to the United States. Beneficiary’s children, unmarried under the age of 21, may be admitted to the United States to accompany or follow to join him or her.
  • To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, Beneficiary must:
    • Have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition for this status with USCIS.
    • Seek to enter the United States to work in a full time, compensated position in one of the following occupations:
      • Solely as a minister of that religious denomination;
      • A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity;
      • A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
      • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
    • Be coming to work for either:
      • A bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States; or
      • A bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.
    • Have been working in one of the positions described above after the age of 14, either abroad or in the United States, continuously for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of a petition with USCIS. The prior religious work need not correspond precisely to the type of work to be performed. A break in the continuity of the work during the preceding two years will not affect eligibility so long as:
      • The foreign national was still employed as a religious worker;
      • The break did not exceed two years; and
      • The nature of the break was for further religious training or for sabbatical. However, the foreign national must have been a member of the petitioner’s denomination throughout the two years of qualifying employment.
    • Both the religious organization and the religious worker must provide many supporting documents. To see a list, click here: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fourth-preference-eb-4/special-immigrant-religious-workers

STEP 2

Employers of most EB-2 and EB-3 workers must obtain PERM labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) prior to filing the worker’s Immigrant Petition with USCIS. Supporting documents (like website printouts, newspaper ads, job orders, etc.) are not included with the PERM application, but petitioner/employer must conduct all required recruitment activities and have all supporting documents available if requested by the Certifying Officer or in case of DOL audit (which can go back 5 years). If DOL audits a case, the petitioner/employer must submit all requested documents within 30 days or risk abandonment of their case and being required to conduct “supervised recruitment” for any future labor certification.

Depending on the nature of the job, the process of obtaining all necessary information can take months or even years. The government has been averaging around 90 days to process PERM applications.  

After the labor certification is approved by the DOL, an immigrant petition related to the labor certification should be filed with the USCIS. This petition must be filed before the labor certification expires (currently 180 days).

More information about the process:

  • Pre-filing recruitment steps: Nearly all petitioners/employers filing the ETA Form 9089 will have to attest that they have complied with and/or performed several conditions of employment and recruitment activities.
    • Generally, the required recruitment activities depend on whether or not the occupation normally requires a bachelor's or higher degree. There is no prohibition on performing more recruitment than is required by the regulations.
    • The petitioner/employer must prepare a recruitment report describing the lawful job-related reasons it rejected U.S. applicants and providing the number of U.S. applicants rejected in each category. The recruitment report does not have to identify the individual U.S. applicants, but resumes must be able to be submitted if requested.
  • Prevailing wage: Prior to filing ETA Form 9089, the petitioner/employer must request and obtain the prevailing wage, prevailing wage tracking number, SOC (O*NET /OES) code, occupation title, skill level, wage source, determination date, and expiration date from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC), and provide all of this on the ETA Form 9089.
  • Application: The petitioner/employer must complete an Application for Permanent Employment Certification, ETA Form 9089. A completed application will provide a detailed description of the job duties, educational requirements, training, experience, and other skills the beneficiary/employee must possess to perform the work, and it will outline the foreign worker's qualifications.
  • Signatures: Applications submitted by mail must contain original signatures of the petitioner/employer, beneficiary/employee, and the preparer of the application (if applicable) when they are received by the NPC. Applications filed electronically must be signed immediately by the employer, foreign worker, and preparer (if applicable) upon receipt of the labor certification issued by ETA in order to be valid.
  • Audits/requests for information: Supporting documentation may not be filed with the ETA Form 9089, but petitioner/employer must provide the required supporting documentation if the Certifying Officer requests it or if the employer's application is selected for audit.
  • Retention of records: Petitioner/employer is required to retain copies of applications for permanent employment certification and all supporting documentation for five years from the date of filing the ETA Form 9089.
  • Filing - by mail or online: Employers can submit paper applications to the Atlanta NPC, or electronically (using web-based forms and instructions). DOL recommends electronic filing as it is faster and ensures that petitioner/employer has provided all required information (it cannot be submitted if all required fields are not complete). Additionally, the online ETA Form 9089 prompts the preparer to ensure accurate data entry.
  • Registration: To better assist employers with processing PERM applications, the electronic system requires employers to register individual accounts. 
  • Approvals: If the Atlanta NPC approves an application, the ETA Form 9089 is signed by the Certifying Officer and returned to the employer/petitioner who submitted the application.

STEP 3

Most employment based immigration categories require the U.S. employer to file the petition for the foreign national Beneficiary; in some situations, the Beneficiary may self-petition. All directions should be followed very carefully, and Petitioners and Beneficiaries should always make and keep copies of everything they send the government.

  • A Beneficiary’s “priority date” is how to determine where the Beneficiary is “in line” among all of the people waiting for work-based immigrant visas.
    • If a labor certification is required to be filed, the Beneficiary’s priority date is when the labor certification application was accepted for processing by DOL.
    • If a labor certification is not required, the Beneficiary’s priority date is when the Form I-140 is properly filed with USCIS (meaning it is complete and contains all other required documentation).
    • Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached.

Any immigrant petition package must contain many important items, generally including: Form I-140, I-360, or I-526 Immigrant Petition

Although the most common work-based immigrant petition is a Form I-140, it is not the correct one for all workers:

  • For EB-1: file Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (with USCIS)
  • For EB-2 (unless NIW) and EB-3: within 180 days of obtaining the PERM labor certification, file Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker with USCIS, along with certified ETA Form 9089 and any other specified documentation and applicable fees, and submit the package to the appropriate USCIS Service Center
  • For EB-4: file Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with USCIS
  • For EB-5: file Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (with USCIS)
  • Copies of supporting documents: Generally, photocopies of civil documents may be submitted in the application. The documents may include:
    • Birth Certificates of Petitioner and Beneficiary
    • Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
    • Adoption decrees
    • Passport biographic data pages
    • Passport-style photographs taken within past 30 days
    • Evidence of bona fide marriage (if Petitioner and Beneficiary are married) including
      • Photographs of Petitioner and Beneficiary throughout their relationship
      • Invitations, photographs, and congratulatory letters from friends and family relating to Petitioner and Beneficiary’s wedding
      • Lease agreements and/or mortgage documents showing joint residence
      • Sale agreements showing join ownership of property
      • Bank account statements showing joint control of funds
      • Automobile insurance documents showing joint coverage
    • And more
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Payment of appropriate processing fees, generally one for the visa application and one for the Affidavit of Support

If USCIS needs additional information, they will mail a letter called an RFE (Request for Evidence) in which they state what they need. This request is not a rare occurrence. As with sending anything to the U.S. government, directions should be followed very carefully, and copies should be made of everything to be sent.

USCIS will notify Petitioner and Beneficiary of the decision in writing.

  • If the petition is approved, Beneficiary must wait until a visa is currently available in his or her category. Availability of the visa means Beneficiary may take one of the final steps in the process of becoming a permanent resident of the United States.
  • If the petition is denied, the notice will include the reasons for denial and inform of any rights to appeal the decision, including time frame for filing the appeal. Once appeal petitions and fees are processed, the appeal will be sent to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

STEP 4

USCIS sends approved immigration petitions to the National Visa Center (NVC) who holds them until close to the time that Beneficiary’s case becomes current (meaning a visa is available for him/her or his/her priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the Visa Bulletin). A Beneficiary cannot file the application package until a visa is currently available for him or her. Wait times vary greatly; although it is possible Beneficiary will not have to wait long, it is also possible the wait will be several years. Wait times can be checked here: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html

There are 2 ways to take the next step to become a Permanent Resident, and Beneficiary’s options depend upon where he/she wants to (or can) file the application. There are requirements, advantages, and disadvantages to both.

  • If Beneficiary is already residing legally in the U.S., Beneficiary can apply to Adjust Status (via I-485 Application). In general:
    • Advantages:
      • Beneficiary and Petitioner can be together while the application is pending
      • Denial of application is appealable
    • Disadvantages:
      • Takes a longer time to process than Consular Processing
      • More difficult to switch from Adjustment of Status to Consular Processing if Beneficiary changes mind later
  • If Beneficiary is residing abroad, she or he will only be able to apply for an Immigrant Visa through Consular Processing (via DS-260 Application). Beneficiaries residing in the U.S. legally, though, also have the option to go through Consular Processing. In general:
    • Advantages:
      • Takes a shorter time to process
      • Easier to switch from Consular Processing to Adjustment of Status if Beneficiary changes mind later
    • Disadvantages:
      • Beneficiary and Petitioner are generally apart while the application is pending (unless Beneficiary is legally residing in the U.S., in which case he or she can remain there and just travel to the consulate for the interview and medical examination)
      • Denial of application is most often NOT appealable

When it is close to the time that Beneficiary’s case will become current, NVC begins pre-processing the case. If Beneficiary is eligible to adjust status, NVC will ask him or her to confirm this choice and will then send the case to the appropriate USCIS office so that the I-485 adjustment application can be processed. Beneficiary will need to apply submit the I-485 application package at the appropriate time.

An I-485 application package must contain many important items, generally including:

  • Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status
  • Payment of appropriate processing fees, generally one for the visa application and one for the Affidavit of Support
  • Copies of supporting documents: Generally, photocopies of civil documents may be submitted in the application, and then Beneficiary will need to bring photocopies AND the originals to the application interview. The documents may include:
    • Birth Certificate of Beneficiary
    • Job offer letter from petitioner/employer
    • Passport biographic data pages
    • Passport-style photographs taken within past 30 days
    • Police certificates
    • Court & prison records
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support which will include financial statements and evidence. This is only a requirement for employment-based applicants if a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative filed the immigrant petition or owns a significant ownership interest (5% or more) in the employer company. If that is the case, the employer is legally accepting financial responsibility for Beneficiary. Financial evidence may include IRS Tax Returns, pay stubs, proof of retirement benefits, business licenses, SSA Earnings Statements, etc.
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (optional; this is also known as a work permit and is for if Beneficiary wants to be able to work while the I-485 Application is pending)
  • Form G-325A Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Copy of I-797 approval notice sent by USCIS OR original I-140 / I-360 / I-526 petition
  • Copy of Beneficiary’s Form I-94 Arrival Departure Record (showing evidence of inspection, admission or parole into the United States)
  • Form I-693 Results of Medical Examination performed by a USCIS designated physician not more than 1 year before submission of the I-485 Application, and vaccination assessment.
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which Beneficiary will be interviewed

If Beneficiary decides to complete consular processing, or if that is his/her only option, the National Visa Center (NVC) begins pre-processing the case. When it is close to the time that Beneficiary’s case will become current, NVC will notify Beneficiary and ask him or her to take the next pre-processing steps. After the necessary forms and documents have been collected, and when the priority date is current, the NVC will send the case to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate for them to complete processing, and they will schedule Beneficiary’s interview there.

Unless Petitioner used an attorney to file the previous petition, Petitioner must submit a Form DS-261 in order to choose an agent– someone to receive communication from NVC about the case. This may be Beneficiary, Petitioner, Petitioner’s attorney, or anyone else, but it is extremely important that this choice is made wisely. 

A DS-260 application package must contain many important items, generally including:

  • DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application
  • Payment of appropriate processing fees, generally one for the visa application and one for the Affidavit of Support
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support which will include financial information about By submitting the I-864, Petitioner is legally accepting financial responsibility for Beneficiary. If Petitioner does not meet the financial qualifications alone, she or he will have to find an additional person who can help meet the financial qualifications and who will also be legally accepting financial responsibility for Beneficiary.
  • Copies of supporting documents: Generally, photocopies of civil documents may be submitted in the application, and then Beneficiary will need to bring photocopies AND the originals to the application interview. The documents may include:
    • Birth Certificates of Petitioner, Beneficiary, and all unmarried children under the age of 21
    • Marriage and divorce certificates
    • Adoption decrees
    • Passport biographic data pages
    • Passport-style photographs taken within past 30 days
    • Police certificates
    • Court & prison records
    • And more
  • Copies of financial statements and evidence about Petitioner (and joint sponsor, if necessary) may include IRS Tax Returns, pay stubs, proof of retirement benefits, business licenses, SSA Earnings Statements, etc.
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Copy of I-797 approval notice sent by USCIS OR original I-140 / I-360 / I-526 petition
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which Beneficiary will be interviewed

After submitting the application, Beneficiary should notify NVC of any changes to his/her physical address or personal situation (such as divorce from Petitioner). Personal situation changes may affect Beneficiary’s ability to obtain an immigrant visa.

STEP 5

Not all Beneficiaries applying via I-485 will have to attend an interview appointment, but all will have to make an appointment at the appropriate Application Support Center to submit for biometrics collection, meaning having a picture and fingerprints taken and giving a signature sample.

On the other hand, almost all Beneficiaries applying via DS-260 will have to be interviewed; they will submit for biometrics collection at the time of the interview appointment.

  • The appropriate government agency will schedule interview appointments at the appropriate USCIS office (for I-485 applicants) or U.S. Embassy or Consulate (for DS-260 applicants) for Petitioners and Beneficiaries/applicants to answer questions under oath or affirmation.
  • Interviews MUST be attended at the date, time, and location indicated. Applicants who do not contact the appropriate office within one year of receiving an interview appointment letter may have their cases terminated, their visa petitions cancelled, and forfeit any fees paid.
  • Beneficiary/applicants should immediately and carefully review all information they receive, and seek out any additional office-specific interview &/or document instructions so that they have sufficient time prior to the appointment to do and/or gather anything required for the interview appointment.
  • Applicants will need to schedule, undergo, and obtain the results of a medical examination with an authorized physician prior to the interview appointment. Physicians will need to see vaccination records of DS-260 applicants at the time of the examination. Examination results should not be opened, and must be brought to the interview appointment unless the physician sends them directly to the appropriate government office.
  • Beneficiary/applicants will generally have to gather these items for the interview appointment:
    • Appointment Letter received from USCIS / NVC
    • Beneficiary’s unexpired passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the U.S.
    • Passport-style photographs of Beneficiary (generally 2)
    • Originals (and additional copies of) of forms and documents submitted with Beneficiary’s application, and any remaining required documents; this may include birth certificates, passports, official travel documents, Form I-94s (for I-485 applicants), etc. Originals will generally be returned at some point following the interview.
    • Medical Exam Results (if applicable)
    • Certified Translations of non-English documents not already sent to USCIS / NVC
    • Visa Fees not already collected by USCIS / NVC
  • Beneficiary/applicants should (of course) remember to bring all the documents to the interview that they gathered.

STEP 6

After all paperwork has been received, interviews conducted (if necessary), security checks completed, and other eligibility requirements reviewed, a final decision will be made.

  • Adjustment of Status applicants should receive written notification of the final decision by mail.
    • If the I-485 application is approved, Beneficiary may continue to reside in the U.S., and verification of Conditional Permanent Residence status (or of Permanent Residence status, also known as a Green Card) will typically be sent within 45 days of the Adjustment approval.
    • If the application is denied, the notice will include the reasons for denial and inform of any rights to appeal the decision including time frame for filing the appeal. The appeal petition is extremely important and complicated; once it and the fees are processed, the appeal will be sent to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  • Consular Processing applicants should be informed of the final decision by the consular officer immediately following the interview.
    • If the DS-260 application is approved, the consular officer will give Beneficiary a “Visa Packet” (that must not be opened until CBP asks for it upon Beneficiary’s arrival in the U.S.) and will tell Beneficiary how he or she will get back original items submitted. Once Beneficiary travels to the U.S. and is admitted as a Permanent Resident, he or she will typically be sent verification of Conditional Permanent Residence status (or Permanent Residence status, also known as a Green Card) within 45 days.
    • If the application is denied, Beneficiary will be told the reasons for ineligibility. Beneficiary may be able to appeal this decision, but most likely not.
  • If verification of Permanent Residence status is not received in a reasonable time frame, Beneficiaries can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit a local office by making an InfoPass appointment.

STEP 7

In some cases, obtaining Permanent Resident status (also known as a Green Card) is not the last step a person must take to remain in the U.S. permanently. Current green cards are valid for 10 years (or 2 years in the case of a conditional resident), and they must be renewed before they expire. A green card is valid for readmission to the United States after a trip abroad if the holder does not leave for longer than 1 year. If the trip will last longer than 1 year, a reentry permit is needed. The following are a few examples of actions that must be taken in order to ensure lawful status:

  • Permanent residents must notify USCIS every time they move
  • Permanent residents must not abandon permanent residence status
    • This is generally done by leaving the U.S. to live abroad
      1. If the permanent resident must leave the U.S. for an extended period of time (more than a few months at a time) and does not intend to abandon the U.S., he or she should apply for a Travel Document (re-entry permit) prior to leaving the U.S., continue to file required tax returns in the U.S., register with the Selective Service (currently just males between 18-26 years old),
    • Permanent residents, and every other person in the U.S., must follow all Federal, State, and local laws wherever they reside.