How Long Does It Take To Get a Green Card After a Work Permit?
How Long Does It Take To Get a Green Card After a Work Permit?


Navigating the journey from obtaining a work permit (Employment Authorization Document, or EAD) to securing a green card (Lawful Permanent Resident status) is a common path for many immigrants in the United States. This transition is an essential step towards permanent residency and, for many, eventual citizenship. The timeline for this process can vary significantly based on individual circumstances, including the basis of your green card application and current immigration processing times. In this blog, we’ll explore the general process and what applicants can typically expect.

What is an Employment Authorization Document?

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), often called a work permit, is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants temporary employment authorization to non-citizens in the United States. The EAD is typically a laminated card with the bearer’s name, photo, and expiration date. It allows individuals not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to legally work in the U.S. for a specific period.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants immigrants the right to live and work permanently in the United States. It is a critical step for most immigrants on the path to becoming U.S. citizens through naturalization.

What is the EAD to Green Card Process?

Moving from holding an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to obtaining a U.S. Green Card (Lawful Permanent Resident status) involves several steps and varies depending on the individual’s specific circumstances. The EAD allows you to work legally in the U.S. for a certain period, while the Green Card grants you the right to live and work permanently there. Here’s a general overview of the transition process:

1. Determine Your Eligibility for a Green Card

First, you must determine under which category you are eligible to apply for a Green Card. Common eligibility categories include family sponsorship, employment, asylum or refugee status, and the diversity lottery. Each category has its own requirements and procedures.

2. Have a Petition Filed on Your Behalf (if applicable)

  • Family-Based: A family member who is a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • Employment-Based: Your employer must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
  • Asylum/Refugee: If you were granted asylum or refugee status, you could apply for a Green Card one year after your asylum approval or your entry into the U.S. as a refugee without needing to file a petition.
  • Diversity Lottery: Winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery can apply directly without needing a petition.

3. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

If you are already in the U.S. on an EAD, you may be eligible to adjust your status to a permanent resident by filing Form I-485 with USCIS. This step is typically done after your petition is approved and a visa number is available if you’re in a category that requires you to wait for one.

4. Attend the Biometrics Appointment

After filing your application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment to take your fingerprints, photo, and signature. This is used for background checks.

5. Attend the Interview

You may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office. You’ll need to bring original documents, such as your passport, EAD, and any other documents requested by USCIS.

6. Wait for a Decision

USCIS will make a decision on your Green Card application after reviewing your file, conducting background checks, and evaluating the information provided during your interview. The time it takes to receive a decision can vary widely depending on the specifics of your case and the current USCIS processing times.

Additional Considerations:

  • Visa Availability: For family and employment preference categories, you must wait for a visa to become available according to your priority date and category. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens generally do not have to wait for a visa number.
  • Renewing or Extending Your EAD: If your EAD is set to expire before you receive your Green Card, you may need to apply for a renewal or extension to maintain your employment eligibility.

Transitioning from an EAD to a Green Card is a significant step toward long-term residency in the U.S. Due to the complexity of immigration laws and the potential for delays, many individuals find it helpful to work with an immigration attorney to navigate the process.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Green Card After a Work Permit?

The time it takes to get a Green Card after receiving a work permit (EAD) can vary widely depending based on your Green Card application and current processing times. On average, it might take from 8 to 14 months after applying for adjustment of status (Form I-485) if you’re already in the U.S.. Still, it can be longer for certain categories or due to visa availability issues. The wait could extend several years for family and employment preference categories due to annual visa limits and your priority date.

Factors Influencing the Timeline

  • Green Card Category: Employment-based applications might be processed more quickly than some family-sponsored applications, depending on the visa category and the applicant’s country of origin.
  • Visa Backlogs and Caps: There are annual limits on the number of green cards that can be issued in certain categories, leading to backlogs.
  • USCIS Processing Times: These vary widely based on the workload at different USCIS service centers and field offices.

How a San Jose Green Card Lawyer Can Help

At The Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield Immigration Defense, PC, we understand the journey to securing a Green Card in the United States is both a hopeful and challenging process. As experienced San Jose Green Card lawyers, we are dedicated to helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration law to achieve their dream of permanent residency. Here’s how we can assist:

Personalized Case Assessment

Every immigration journey is unique. We begin with a comprehensive assessment of your individual situation to determine the best path to obtaining a Green Card, considering factors such as family relationships, employment opportunities, and prior immigration history.

Expert Guidance on Application Process

The Green Card application process involves numerous forms, documents, and steps, each with its own set of requirements. Our legal team guides you through every stage, ensuring accuracy and completeness to avoid delays or rejections.

Representation in All Legal Matters

From filing petitions to representing clients in interviews and court proceedings, our attorneys provide skilled legal representation. We stand by your side, prepared to advocate on your behalf and address any issues that arise during the process.

Handling Complex Cases

Our expertise is particularly valuable for clients facing complex situations, such as previous immigration violations, legal issues, or denials. We are adept at navigating the challenges of waivers, appeals, and motions to reopen or reconsider cases.

Ensuring Compliance with Latest Immigration Laws

Immigration laws and policies change frequently. Our team stays informed about the latest developments to provide you with the most current and effective legal strategies, ensuring compliance with all federal and state laws.

Support for Employment-Based Green Card Applicants

For clients seeking a Green Card through employment, we work closely with employers and individuals to manage labor certifications, petitions, and adjustments of status, optimizing the chances of a successful outcome.

Assistance with Family-Based Petitions

We help U.S. citizens and permanent residents reunite with family members from abroad, assisting with the filing of petitions for spouses, children, parents, and siblings, and navigating the preferences and caps within the family-based immigration system.

Guidance Through Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

Whether you are adjusting your status within the U.S. or processing your visa abroad, our attorneys provide step-by-step guidance, ensuring that you understand the process and are prepared for interviews and appointments.

Why Choose The Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield Immigration Defense, PC?

Our commitment to our clients extends beyond legal representation. We understand the importance of your immigration goals and work tirelessly to help you achieve them. With a deep knowledge of immigration law and a compassionate approach, we strive to make your path to a Green Card as smooth and swift as possible.

Start Your Green Card Journey with Confidence

If you or a loved one is seeking permanent residency in the U.S., let The Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield Immigration Defense, PC guide you through the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards your new life in the United States.

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