Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fast Way to Get U.S. Permanent Residency Status – Getting Started

Getting permanent residency status in the US has been a tedious and a long process for applicants, employers and attorneys. As you know, there are so many requirements, and the processing timelines are not properly defined or otherwise, delayed often.
My whole permanent residency process took one year and eight months from applying for Labor Certification Application (PERM) to receiving the “Green Card” to my hands. I would say it is reasonably fast compared to other similar cases. Of course, I did my homework and potentially qualified for the EB2 category prior to that by completing an accredited master’s degree. However, the overall time can be less or more depend on various reasons.
My focus here primarily on obtaining permanent residency status through employer for professional service. More specifically, in this post, I will concentrate on pre-preparation and PERM labor certification activities. Check my post “Top Way to Get U.S. Permanent Residency Status – Post Labor Approval” to see the things you should know after the labor approval. I will give you some valuable tips on how you can strengths the efficiency of the process and minimize delays from your side. I would not describe the standard process here rather I will explain the little things you should know and can do to speed up the process and be accurate. Here are my recommendations:

Pre-Preparation:
Be confident that your employer knows the depth of this process and willing to stand by you till the end. Be aware that your employer needs to advertise your job in several locations, provide you a job that potentially US citizens would not apply, give you a salary that fulfill minimum labor rates, provide financial evidence (audited tax records, income statements, etc.) to show the salary can be paid, and generate numerous letters plus supporting documents.
Study the entire process per your applying category and know the step-by-step stages involved including you, attorney and employer. You can get these details from your attorney and available websites. Two tips for choosing an attorney:
- Do not choose the overconfident attorney who says this can be easily done in a year rather go with the one who says it takes about 2-5 years and gives you the true picture of this process
- Pay attention to the initial step-by-step process given by the attorney; more thorough details mean that the attorney knows what he or she is talking about.
For EB-2, EB-3 categories make sure your degree is from an accredited university. Also, your degree and the potential job have to be in a similar or related discipline. As for EB-2, if your only focus is getting the Green Card, I would recommend an online master’s degree from an accredited university which you may be able to complete within a year.
Know your priority date. This will give you a slight idea of how long you will have to wait in order to apply for change of status (form I-485). You can check the priority date from the monthly Visa Bulletin on the Department of State website. Until the I-485 is approved, make a point to see the Visa Bulletin often as the dates can be changed frequently.

Labor Certification Application (PERM):
In this first phase of the permanent residency status process, your employer has to do lot of work. This includes obtaining the prevailing wage determination from state, advertising the job (two advertisements in a newspaper, three other additional recruitment steps – website ad, job search ad, job fair, on campus recruitment, etc –any three), post and publish a job notice in employer location, and place a job order with the state employment office. Therefore, to speed up this process, always follow up with the employer and attorney, and help on the documentation. Keys here are to construct the right job title and the description, so that the advertise job requires your unique specialty. Note that listing many specialties does not help because then you will need to explain why each specialty is required performing the job duties. Hence, limit to one or more unique specialty on your job description.
Before the submission of the labor certification, make sure the attorney has all the information needed, and they are accurate. You should collect all the required documentation by you well before the advertising process, so that you can follow up with employer advertising and documentations. It took me almost six months to complete the advertising process and submit the labor certification. You can minimize this time by communicating with attorney and the employer. Make things moving. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. This is for you not for them.
Once the labor certification is submitted, it is basically a waiting game. Word of advice here though. If you have a choice of where to file, find out the faster processing location (This is true to the I-140 and I-485 processing location as well). There are many online sources available to find this out. This is attorney’s job, but do your home work and make sure the attorney is on the right track. It took me three months to get the labor approval. There were no audits.
As for the advertising activities and getting the labor approval, it took me exactly a year. To minimize delays, always stay on top of everything from the accuracy of the documentation to frequent communication with employer and attorney to make things moving. Do not just wait for them to do the job. Sensibly push them to get things done. In a larger organization, I know this will be an issue. However, keep as much as control in this process to minimize delays.

1 comment:

  1. Any help or guidance you can offer? It took you a year!!! we are 3 years from the submitting process!!!

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