GC application when J1 is about to end
I’m on the verge of completing my postdoctoral stay here in the U.S. I have not got hold of my next opportunity. Consequently, I just have about a month to depart from the U.S.
In this context, I have the following questions:
Firstly, is it a good idea to apply for a GC at this stage as I don’t have a position in the U.S. as stated above and certainly not a H1B visa? (I came on J1 and had taken a waiver meaning that I do not have to necessarily stay in my home country for 2 years. This was a prerequisite to being eligible for H1B/ GC).
Soon after you apply for i-485 now (assuming priority dates allow this), you will be eligible to stay in the USA legally. Your status will become “pending adjustment of status”.
Even if I can apply in this situation, is it worthwhile or necessary to initiate the application from here? I’m not sure if I can complete it though. As I understand the I-140 application would require all the documentation including reference letters to be obtained and then mailed in to the USCIS. Can I then continue with the process from my home country? Alternatively, can I start the entire process in my home country?
You can file the petition while you are here or while you are in your home country. If you are in your home country, i-485 form needs to be filled differently (you will go to your local consulate for consular processing.)
I understand that the application is a two-step process but the applications can be submitted together if the “priority date were to be current”. What does this exactly mean? Also, how much fees would be involved in total?
For a self-petition eb1a/eb2-niw, which does not involve labor certification, priority date is the date of i-140 filing. You can look up current visa bulletin to see if the priority dates are current for your country and the category you are applying for. For example, in the November 2011 bulletin, priority dates for Indian nationalities in eb2 is 01 Nov 07. Meaning applicants whose i-140 was applied on or prior to 01 Nov 07 are eligible to apply for i-485. On the other hand, since priority dates for eb1 is current for Indian nationalities they can apply at any time.
You can find the fee schedule at this link. To get green card you need to file i-140, 485 (along with bio-metric form). If you feel necessary, you can apply for EAD and Advanced Parole.
Typically, how long does it take for the GC to be approved even if I-140 and I-485 are submitted together? It looks like it can take years.
Depending on the country and category it can be anywhere from 6 months to several years. You can find current processing times on USCIS website.
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