How To Stay In The USA?
June 11, 2006 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Can someone refer me to an immigration lawyer in CA? I'm trying to find out if applying for a Green Card is the only way to go about trying to secure permanent residency in the US.

I'm a UK citizen working on an H-1B visa, which runs out in 2 years 3 months. I'm interviewing with a new (very large) company this week and they've already given assurance that sponsoring me for the remainder of my visa is no problem. But, with the clock ticking, I'm also planning to add to my negotiation sponsorship for a Green Card (I believe the process takes 2-3 years & $8-9K), after a probationary period first.

I'd like to make sure that this is the best way to go, but can't consult with my current companys' immigration lawyer because he's useless, and most lawyers (understandably) tend to be less than helpful when they know they're not going to be handling the case.
posted by forallmankind to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help with the direct request.

Indirectly: have you looked at ? Or ?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:21 PM on June 11, 2006

"Green Card" is kind of anachronistic and confusing terminology. Not your fault, it's just a bit of an unhelpful colloquialism. Anyhow, it's proper name is Permanent Resident Card and it's what you get once you have applied for and fulfilled the requirements of the USCIS to become a Permanent Resident. A Permanent Resident has been granted permission to live and work in the USA indefinitely. Sorry for the pedantry. My point is that, by definition, someone with the proverbial "Green Card" is a PR, regardless of the route through the regulations and process they navigated to acquire one, and having it is the only way to prove you can legally indefinitely live and work in the US as a non-US citizen

There are many ways in which one can qualify for Permanent Residency and I'm not familiar with the process when one is sponsored by an employer and hold some form of employment-based visa. Anecdotally, 2-3 years sounds approximately right. $8-9K sounds on the steep side, though. Assuming you've no skeletons in your cupboards that might alarm the US immigration authorities, the process is boring, bureaucratic and laborious, but not technically and legally complex. Many get through it without professional legal help, instead choosing to do their own research and form filling and filing.

I'm not suggesting that's what you should do, just that you need not necessarily be intimidated by it. I'd suggest it's worth your while to get an initial consultation with a competent immigration lawyer in the near future and take things from there.

The place to start with all US immigration questions is, of course, the USCIS website.

Good luck and sorry my answer wasn't more specific to your situation.

Useless fact of the moment: The card is not green at all but actually a beige-ish color.
posted by normy at 4:31 PM on June 11, 2006

having it is the only way to prove you can legally indefinitely live and work in the US as a non-US citizen

ISTR that TN visas for NAFTA professionals can be renewed indefinitely, though each one lasts only a year. Which would help famk if (s)he were Canadian.

Anecdotally, 2-3 years sounds approximately right. $8-9K sounds on the steep side, though.

The employment-based road to permanent residency is much more difficult and expensive than family-based immigration.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2006

B.A.L. out of San Francisco did my and my colleagues' H1Bs, L1s and green cards when I lived in the States. They're really good, but might be set up to respond to corporations rather than individuals. If you have questions about work-sponsored GCs, including costs, they can probably answer them.

FWIW, and your situation and background may be entirely different, most of us who didn't marry yanks figured after some investigation that work-sponsored was the only surefire way to get residence. I didn't take the process to its conclusion, I moved up north, but for my ex-colleagues who applied the same time as me & finished it out it took almost exactly 3 years (all finished late last year). Timelines change of course ....

Don't worry about the cost! I've met people whoout of some sort of desperation offered to pay all or part of the legal fees, or took a pay cut to cover them, but this seems a terrible idea to me when you're essentially tying yourself to the place for 3 years anyway.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:14 PM on June 11, 2006

I can’t comment on your particular situation but I can recommend Bernard Wolfsdorf and Associates. They were terrific to deal with. Their first, free consult gave me a very clear idea of what they could do for me and how much it would cost. I have no hesitation recommending them.
posted by firstdrop at 8:58 PM on June 11, 2006

1. You can get 2 H-1B visas in a row (for a total of 6 years) without leaving the US. You didn't say if you are on your first or second visa.
2. You can extend your H-1B for one more year (to year 7) if you are at a certain point in the green card process.
3. My company gives a timeline of 2-5 years to get a green card. Many people at my company went to 5 years in the process.
4. Green cards are no longer permanent. If you leave the US for an extended period of time, you will lose the green card. You must naturalize if you really want to be permanently affiliated with the US. But first, you need a green card and you should obtain one through your employer.
5. Start hoping to hell that the Senate immigration reform bill passes, cause that will open up a ton more employment-based green cards and shorten the time required to get a green card.
6. My company uses Paparelli and Partners. I do not live near their office and I have never seen one of their attorneys. I also don't deal with the attorney selection and billing process. I work with them over email, it's going ok so far.
posted by crazycanuck at 4:18 AM on June 12, 2006

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