Ms. X is a pharmacist employed by a large hospital. When she came to us to inquiry about getting a green card, we advised that the best route to take is Green Card in the EB2 category via PERM labor certification. After a careful evaluation, two areas that needed special attention were identified:
- Ms. X was near the end of her 5th year on H1B;
- Due to the nature of the job classification, it’s typically difficult to get a PERM application certified, as the job market is very competitive.
After multiple rounds of discussion and revision, we finally were able to file her PERM labor certification application on September 2, 2014, before the end of her 5th year on H1B.
The PERM filing date is very important for two reasons:
- Filing a PERM labor certification before the end of the 5th year on H1B entitles the beneficiary to further extend his/her H1B beyond the 6-year limit. Such extensions are often necessary due to a number of reasons beyond the beneficiary’s control.
- The PERM Filing Date becomes the beneficiary’s Priority Date (PD). PD establishes the beneficiary’s place on the “queue” for an immigrant visa number, which is required before filing the I-485 adjustment application. There is often more demand than maxim immigrant visas available, thus creating a “backlog” referred to as PD retrogression. This backlog can result in a lengthy delay before the beneficiary can file the last step application for a green card. Such delay is beyond the control of the employer as well as the beneficiary. However, it is within the control of the application to file PERM as early as possible, in order to secure his PD sooner than later.
The Department of Labor certified Ms. X’s PERM application on January 27, 2015 without audit – approximately 5 months after filing.
It took a while for the employer to process the necessary information needed for I-140 petition. Ms. X decided to pay for premium processing out of her own pocket, and the I-140 petition was quickly approved by USCIS within one week of filing.
As we explained earlier, the PERM filing date establishes the beneficiary’s priority date for an immigrant visa. Since we filed her PERM application on September 2, 2014, that date became Ms. X’s PD. The Visa Bulletin for April 2015 showed EB-2 category for Ms. X’s country of birth to be “current,” meaning she could file her last step green card application (I-485) right away without having to wait. Therefore, we filed Ms. X’s I-485 concurrently with her I-140 petition in April of 2015.
Three months after filing I-485, we received the happy news that USCIS Nebraska Service Center approved Ms. X’s I-485 application on July 7, 2015. Ms. X becomes a permanent resident on that day!
To summarize the timeline, it took merely 10 months for Ms. X to receive her green card approval:
- The Department of Labor took 5 months to approve her PERM applications;
- Ms. X’s employer took 2 months to prepare the information needed to file the next set of application;
- USCIS took 3 months to approve the combined remaining two steps of I-140 and I-485.
Click here to see the sample approval notices.
Click here to see a flowchart for PERM based green card application.