Sponsoring a Foreign National Employee for a Green Card
There are lots of reasons that an American employer may want to hire a foreign national employee for a position in the company. In many of these cases, the employer will prefer that the immigrant employee be able to maintain their job title for a long period of time, and therefore, can expect to have to go through the process of obtaining a green card.
That said, it is important for an employer to consider that the process of sponsoring a foreign national employee for a green card will inevitably be a long one. The employer will have to go through multiple immigration processes on behalf of the employee they hope to sponsor.
This article is meant to provide a broad overview of how long the process of sponsoring a foreign national employee for a green card is likely to take. However, there can be a lot of variations in the time not the main stages of the process will take due to the fact that applications can often be delayed or need to be redone.
The good news is that while obtaining a green card to normally take a number of years, a foreign national employee does not always have to go through the full immigration process before reporting to duty, but rather can apply for a temporary work visa that will often suffice during the waiting period provided that the PERM process has been successfully completed.
What are The Main Stages in the Sponsorship Process?
The overall process of applying for a green card generally involves three steps:
- The employer will need to complete the PERM process.
- The employer will then need to get approval on an I-140 visa petition
- The final step is to apply for a foreign workers green card. This process will differ depending on whether the employee is already working in the United States under a temporary work Visa or has not yet arrived in the country.
So the question is, how long can an employer expect each of the stages to take?
How long will the PERM process take?
Employers can expect the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process to take anywhere from six months minimum to a couple of years. In order to obtain permanent labor certification, ads must be placed according to a strict set of procedures as outlined by the Department of Labour (DOL). The entire point of the PERM process is to ensure the government that the position in question could be filled by a willing and qualified US worker.
The bottom line is that employers can expect to adhere to tightly regulated guidelines when going through the process of immigration labor advertising. This is why it is always advised to enlist the help of an ad agency who specializes in the PERM application guidelines and has the knowledge and expertise not only to expedite the PERM and immigration advertising process in general but can also ensure that all legalities are adhered to and all required documentation is in place.
To further complicate the matter, the PERM ad process itself must be fully completed within a strict timeline before filing. Employers have just 180 days before the application is filed up to 30 days before filing in order to fill and document most of the requirements in their entirety. A professional agent who knows how to handle the permanent labor certification as the process will be able to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that nothing falls through the cracks, not to mention taking a lot of work off of an employer‘s plate since this is always a very labor-intensive and involved process.
A big thing to keep in mind is that the DOL makes no exceptions for incomplete or incorrectly filled applications. There is nothing worse than going through the entire PERM process only to find that an application was rejected only because one small requirement wasn’t properly documented or completed. A rejected application will mean that the employer will have to go through the whole process over again, and it can expect to tack another couple years onto the total time estimate to complete PERM. This is why it is so essential to ensure that all the requirements are properly completed and the application is done right the first time.
An employer must fully complete and be approved for PERM through the DOL before they can move on to the I-140 visa petition. In the event of an audit, the employer will be required to provide documentation in order to ensure that every stage of the application was properly completed. If an employer is selected for an audit, they can expect the process to be delayed by many months. In order to ensure success during the auditing process, it is essential to be able to procure and provide detailed information. A professional ad agency will be able to ensure that all of the required information is documented with the ad requirements are filled.
How long will an I-140 Visa Petition Take?
Once PERM is approved by the DOL, the employer can move on to file an I-140 visa petition through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS). The PERM approval must be included in the application and signed by both the employer and the foreign national employee. The PERM certificate will only remain valid for a certain period of time after it’s approval, so it is very important the employer move on to the visa petition stage as quickly as possible after getting approved in order to avoid having to start the whole process over again.
Once the I-140 application is filed, the employer can expect to wait a minimum of three months to longer than seven months for a decision. However, the employer can be a fee to receive an adjudication within 15 days of filing if they so choose.
How Long Will a Green Card Application Take?
This one varies dramatically due to the fact that the process is subject to the annual demand and supply of green cards and the nation that foreign worker is a citizen of. Expect a minimum of at least nine months.
In all, the entire process of sponsoring a foreign employee for a green card will more often than not take multiple years. It is important for a potential employer to fully prepare themselves for a lot of involvement during this time frame. They are advised to check in with the appropriate government agencies in order to receive up to date expected timeframes for each stage of the process.