The H-1B non-immigrant visa was designed to allow specially trained employees to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis of up to six years total. However, it is a ‘dual intent’ visa. This means that a non-citizen employee can also apply for a Green Card and become a permanent resident while they are in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. The application to become a lawful permanent resident will not affect the H-1B visa detrimentally. USCIS will not deny or invalidate either the H-1B visa or renewal nor will the non-citizen’s presence in the U.S. on the H-1B visa be considered fraudulent if a Green Card application is submitted.
How can I obtain a green card through my H-1B visa?
If your employer is willing, they can sponsor you for a green card application while you are in H-1B status. This is now as an employment-based green card petition.
Adjustment of Status is a process whereby an alien who is physically in the United States adjusts his/her non-immigrant status to immigrant status (i.e. becomes a permanent resident). You will need to apply for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) with the USCIS to obtain your green card.
What are the benefits of adjusting status from H-1B to Permanent Resident?
When you adjust your status to become a lawful permanent resident, you will benefit in a number of ways.
You may simultaneously apply for Advanced Parole. Advanced Parole allows you to travel abroad during the pending period of your adjustment of status application without abandoning the application.
You may also apply for an Employment Authorization Document or EAD. The EAD allows you to work for any employer in the United States during the pending period of you adjustment of status application.
If you are employer-sponsored, (e.g., EB category visas,) you may change employers 180 days after the filing for your adjustment of status. This is called the "portability rule.” This rule allows employer-sponsored non-citizens to change employer 180 days after the filing of an adjustment of status as long as the petition is stilling pending and the new job is in the same or similar occupational classification as the job for which the petition was filed.
By applying for employment-based adjustment of status, you have legal pending status to stay in the U.S. lawfully while waiting for the adjudication of your case. From the date of filing the adjustment application, you can remain in the United States even if the time limit is reached on the non-immigrant status.
After five years of Lawful Permanent Resident status, an individual may be eligible for naturalization, to become a U.S. citizen.