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Making the transition from a work visa to a green card is a significant step for many foreign nationals working in the U.S. This move not only allows for extended residence but also opens up new opportunities for employment, travel, and family reunification. Understanding the pathway from a temporary work visa to permanent residency can help you handle this complex process with confidence. If you’re seeking a seamless transition from a work visa to a green card, start your journey with us at the Hanlon Law Group. Our expertise in immigration law can guide you through each step, ensuring a smooth path toward your American dream.

For many, the journey begins with an employer’s willingness to sponsor the visa holder for a green card. Here, we outline the essential steps and considerations for those looking to make this critical transition.

Understanding the Basics of Employer Sponsorship

Employer sponsorship is often the cornerstone of the transition process. It involves your employer agreeing to support your application for permanent residency. The first step in this process is typically the filing of a Labor Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor, demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for your position.

Once the Labor Certification is approved, your employer can file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) on your behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition serves as your formal request for a green card.

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

After your I-140 petition is approved, the next steps depend on your current status and location. If you are already in the U.S. on a work visa, you may be eligible to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident without leaving the country. This process is managed through the filing of an Adjustment of Status application (Form I-485).

Alternatively, if you are outside the U.S. or prefer to process your green card application abroad, consular processing might be the right path. This involves applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country, which, upon entry to the U.S., grants you permanent resident status.

Priority Date and Visa Bulletin

work visa to green card

A critical aspect of the green card process is understanding your priority date. This date is the day USCIS receives your employer’s I-140 petition. The priority date determines your place in line for a green card, as there are annual limits on the number of green cards issued in certain categories.


The Visa Bulletin, published monthly by the U.S. Department of State, shows which priority dates are currently being processed. It’s essential to monitor the Visa Bulletin to know when to proceed with your Adjustment of Status application or consular processing.

Preparing for the Adjustment of Status Application

When your priority date becomes current, and you’re eligible to apply for an Adjustment of Status, gathering the necessary documentation is crucial. This includes proof of your employment, the approved I-140 petition, medical examination results, and any other documents required by USCIS.

During this phase, you may also apply for a work permit (EAD) and a travel document (Advance Parole) to allow you to work and travel while your application is pending.

Final Steps and the Green Card Interview

The last step in the process is the green card interview. Both you and your sponsoring employer may be required to attend. This interview is an opportunity for USCIS to verify the information in your application and to ask any final questions about your eligibility for a green card.

Once approved, you will receive your green card, signifying your status as a lawful permanent resident of the United States. This status allows you to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, travel in and out of the country more freely, and apply for U.S. citizenship in the future if desired.

Making the transition from a work visa to a green card is a journey filled with legal complexities and procedural steps. Our team is dedicated to guiding you through each stage of this process, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to permanent residency. If you’re considering this path, reach out to us for personalized guidance and support.