Steps and process for adjusting a F-1 visa to an EB-3 Green Card

While it can be exciting to come study at university in the United States, many students end up wondering if there are any pathways available to stay in the USA after graduation.

The EB-3 unskilled visa is a great option for students looking to adjust status and become a permanent resident in the USA. But how does one go about this process? At first glance, the process can seem overwhelming, leaving one to ask where to even start? If you have found yourself asking this question, speaking to a representative at BDV Solutions is a great place to start!  The immigration experts at BDV have helped thousands of F-1 students begin their journey towards permanent residency. The process of transitioning from an F-1 to EB-3 Unskilled involves six stages:

  1. Secure a Qualifying Job: The first step is finding a job offer from a U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor your green card. You can choose from any of our qualified Sponsors listed on our website.

  2. File and Receive Approval for Labor Certification (PERM): Your employer must then go through the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process to ensure that hiring you will not negatively impact U.S. workers. Labor Certification (LC), ETA-9089, and PERM mean all the same thing. BDV uses the term LC, but this same form can be referred to as either the ETA-9089 or PERM. The LC is the first step in the EB-3 green card process. This form is filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) to show that the employer completed the necessary recruitment steps and that there were not enough willing and qualified U.S. workers for the role, which is why the employer is looking to sponsor foreign workers.

  3. File an I-140 Petition: Once the LC is approved, the attorney assigned to your case will file the I-140 petition on your behalf, which is sponsored by your employer. Your employer owns the I-140 petition. The I-140 will generally be filed with premium processing. Premium processing allows you to receive a decision within 15 days of filing, unless USCIS issues a Request for Evidence. The premium processing fee is generally included in your contract with BDV, please refer to your contract for details.

  4. Apply for Adjustment of Status:  Adjustment of status is available to individuals who are already present in the United States under a nonimmigrant visa status or other qualifying circumstances. Being an F-1 visa holder will mean that you are present in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant status. To apply for adjustment of status, applicants file various forms, including the I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and I-131 (Application for Travel Document). These forms are filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Adjustment of status allows applicants to remain in the US while their green card application is being processed.

    BDV works with a team of highly qualified immigration attorneys who will draft and file these applications on your behalf. The attorney’s fees are covered in your contract with BDV.
  5. Interview: The last step in the EB-3 Unskilled visa process is the visa interview. As Adjustment of Status, the interview will be scheduled through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and may require you to attend an interview at a USCIS office. The interview is typically conducted by an immigration officer who reviews the applicant's I-485 application and supporting documents. The purpose of the interview is to verify the accuracy of the information provided, assess the applicant's eligibility for adjustment of status, and address any additional questions or concerns. The immigration officer will decide on the application following the interview.

    The visa interview is a crucial step in the process as it allows immigration authorities to thoroughly evaluate the applicant's qualifications, intentions, and eligibility for the EB-3 Unskilled visa. It is important for applicants to be well-prepared, provide accurate and honest information, and present all requested documents to increase the chances of a successful outcome.

  6. Receive Your Green Card: Once your I-485 is approved, you will receive your EB3 green card, granting you permanent residence in the U.S.
    Being a BDV Solutions client means that we will be there to guide and advocate for your green card case through the entire process, including finding a Employer eager to sponsor your green card.  

    Another benefit to being a BDV client is that we also assist our clients prepare for their Interview. BDV has partnered with Argo, a company that employs former Consular Officers with the United States Department of State in embassies and consulates around the world. These officers prepare you by reviewing your case and walking you through mock interviews. Using Argo, BDV clients can schedule a 30 minute or 1-hour video conference with a former Consular Officer that best fits their case based on language, country, and schedule. By being a client of BDV Solutions, you qualify for a discounted price for the mock interview.
    Throughout this process, it is imperative to maintain a legal status in the U.S. This can be achieved by extending your F-1 visa, renewing your OPT or transitioning to another non-immigrant status while your EB-3 application is pending.

How does this process compare to other common routes like OPT & H-1B?

Because OPT is a part of the F-1 program, the journey is not very different. The notable difference is that being on OPT may allow you to work while waiting for your EB-3 EAD, so long as the work is within the parameters of your OPT program.

It is also possible to adjust status from an H1-B visa. H1-B is a “dual intent” category, which allows a person to maintain non-immigrant status, even if they have immigrant intent. This means that a person could maintain their H1-B status while applying to adjust status simultaneously.  

Importance of Maintaining Status:

It is absolutely critical that you maintain status while going through the EB-3 process. If a person is out of status for 180 days, even unknowingly, they may be banned from entering the US for three years. A person who is adjusting status needs to maintain a valid status until their I-485 has been filed. Once the I-485 has been filed, they may let their underlying status expire.  

Can you be overqualified for this process if you have a U.S. degree?

You cannot be overqualified for the EB-3 unskilled visa. “Unskilled” only refers to the job being performed, not the person performing the job. As long as you are willing and able to perform the job on a full-time basis, you can qualify for the EB-3 unskilled category.

Are there any disqualifications?

Yes, there are disqualifications. Here are the most common causes disqualifying an applicant:

  • Commission of a serious crime (a crime of “moral turpitude”);
  • Associations with dangerous political or terrorist groups;
  • If the applicant has ever lied to obtain an immigration benefit;  
  • Being out of status (Remaining in the US for 180 days while out of status triggers a 3 year ban on admission to the US. Remaining in the US for 1 year while out of status, triggers a 10-year ban on admission to the US.);
  • Worked 180 days in the US without work authorization; and
  • Entering the US illegally.

Check outour Frequently Asked
Questions and clear your doubts

  • What is your pricing? Do you have payment plans?
  • Can I apply from outside the United States?
  • How long does the EB-3 Unskilled Visa Process take?
  • Can I include my family in this process?
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