Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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I want to extend an offer to an engineer who has been working in the U.S. on an H-1B for almost five years. Her current employer is sponsoring her for an EB-2 green card, and our startup wants to hire her as a senior engineer.
What happens to her green card process? Can we take it over?
— Recruiting in Richmond
Congrats on finding the right candidate for your role. Your startup’s ability to take over the EB-2 green card process for this candidate — or whether you have to start the green card process from the beginning — depends on where she is in the green card process and whether the position you are offering is similar to her current role.
Take a listen to my podcast in which my colleague, Gilberto Orozco Jr., an associate attorney at my firm, and I discuss the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act — or AC21 — including “green card portability.”
Enacted in 2000, AC21 gives international talent in certain situations the flexibility to change jobs during the green card process and the ability to extend an H-1B visa beyond the six-year limit to avoid having to leave the United States while waiting for a green card. I recommend discussing your situation and goals with an experienced immigration attorney to determine your options.
The process for EB-2 green cards
As I mentioned earlier, what happens to the green card process if your candidate changes jobs depends on where she is in the EB-2 green card process. There are two types of EB-2 green cards that have slightly different processes:
- EB-2 green card for advanced degree professionals
- EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) for persons of exceptional ability
The EB-2 green card requires an employer sponsor and has a three-step process:
- Getting PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Submitting a green card petition (Form I-140) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.
- Getting USCIS approval after filing an adjustment of status to permanent residence application (Form I-485), which can be filed along with Form I-140 depending on whether an EB-2 green card number is available based on the candidate’s country of birth, and being interviewed by a USCIS officer or obtaining a green card abroad through consular processing and the State Department.