H1B to Green Card Process

H1B visa status allows a foreign national to live and work within the United States for up to six years. In order to qualify for this visa, a foreign national must work within a specialty occupation, possess highly specialized knowledge and a certain level of education, and be sponsored by a qualifying employer.

If the visa holder terminated or voluntarily leave the employment of the sponsoring employer, then he/she must find another sponsor, apply for and be granted a change in immigration status or leave the United States within a specific period of time.

The standard allowable time in the United States in H1B status is six years. (achieved through two consecutive three-year periods: one original duration and another achieved by filing for an extension near the end of the original three-year period)

If the visa holder does not leave the employment of the sponsoring employer within the time period allowable by the terms of his or her visa, one of two things must occur as the six-year visa duration period is set to expire.

  • The visa holder may return to his or her home country or travel abroad generally for a minimum of one uninterrupted year and then reapply for H1B visa permissions.
  • The visa holder may apply for a change in immigration status. Depending on the visa holder's home country, there are numerous options available, but the most popular choice is to apply for permanent residency via requesting a green card.

Seventh Year Extension

In order for one to be eligible to extend H1B status beyond six years, under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), it is necessary to qualify either of two possible rules.

  • The foreign national must be the beneficiary of an Labor Certification application filing or I-140 in those cases that do not need the Labor Certification filing. If the employer filed one of these forms at least 365 days before the end of his six-year H-1B time limit and the application is still pending, then H-1B alien can extend his H-1B status beyond the six-year limit. In these situations, the extensions are only available in one year increments.
    In other words, he/she won’t be forced to leave the country since he/she is waiting for a decision on his/her immigrant petition. The H-1B alien can obtain such an extension on an annual basis, and there is no limit to the number of times he can obtain it, provided his immigrant petition is still pending.
  • If the employer has filed an I-140 Immigrant Petition as part of trying to obtain lawful permanent resident status (a green card) and the I-140 has been approved, an H1B extension can be filed. H1B status can be extended for three years if the employee is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition, but their priority date is not yet current (an immigrant visa number is not available).

Please read Green Card Process

Please read Permanent Labor Certification

Please read I-140 Petition Process

Please read U.S Citizen through Naturalization Process

The information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Before making any decision, consult with the appropriate professionals. Please refer our Disclaimer for details.

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