Congratulations! Since the PERM and I-140 immigrant petition are approved, the applicant is now eligible to file the third and final step with DHS, the green card application. The technical term for this application is "adjustment of status". The employer does not have any responsibility at this stage, except to continue sponsorship. Instead the applicant is under scrutiny, signs all legal forms and produces a significant amount of documentary evidence. If approved, the applicant then obtains his or her green card. In some circumstances, the applicant is eligible to file the adjustment of status application simultaneously with the I-140 petition. This instance is addressed in the article: Green Card Step 2.
Eligibility Requirements for the Adjustment of Status Application:
In order to obtain a green card, the applicant must demonstrate:
- Maintenance of status while in the U.S. (i.e. never overstaying a visa or doing something to violate that visa)
- That the sponsoring employer paid the correct wage as listed on the underlying non-immigrant visa
- That he or she has not been employed without authorization including self employment or working for an unauthorized employer
- That he or she filed all required state and federal taxes
- That he or she has not otherwise violated immigration or other laws of the United States
DHS reviews the applicant's entire immigration history carefully when adjudicating the green card application. Applicants interested in obtaining a green card should create a long-term strategy with their immigration attorney, that encompasses that person's entire stay in the United States. Careful planning will increase the alien's eligibility for a green card and help that person to avoid simple mistakes that can result in a denial.
The principal applicant's spouse and children under 21 are also able to file for green cards, travel permission and work authorization.
Employment Authorization When Green Card is Pending:
When filing for a green card, the applicant may apply for work authorization based on the pending green card application. DHS takes about 90 days to issue the employment authorization card. If the underlying non-immigrant petition is still valid, the employee may continue employment based on this approval as well. Derivative Family Members may also apply.
International Travel When Green Card is Pending:
When filing for a green card, the applicant may apply for advance parole document, which allows re-entry to the U.S. after international travel. Most green card applicants may not leave the U.S. without this document or the underlying green card application is abandoned! The exception to this rule is for H-1B and L-1 visa holders who still have unexpired H or L visas.