Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Here’s another edition from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to rise above the limits and pursue their dreams,” said Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

BestFitnessBands+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription with 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I am a software engineer currently on an H-1B. My employer sponsored me for an EB-2 green card and my application has been approved, but I am still waiting for a decision on my application to enroll in permanent residence.

I want to leave my employer and do something completely different. Can I transfer my green card to another employer in a different field and position, or do I have to keep it in my current position until I receive my green card?

If I have to stick with it, how long should I stay with my current employer after I get my green card?

— Desire for change

Dear desire,

As my father (also an immigration attorney) would always say, here’s one of those classic attorneys’ answers: “It depends.”

It’s so exciting when a company wants to sponsor you for a green card, but things can change quickly, especially in the Valley. The past two years have been a time of self-reflection and reappraisal. Thank you for getting in touch. Here’s an overview of some of the common options.

Can I transfer my green card?

A composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a BestFitnessBands logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) makes it possible for some professionals to transfer their work-sponsored green card process from one original employer to another without giving up their “place in line.”

It has several conditions such as:

  • The I-485 (application to register permanent status or adjust status), the last step after submitting the I-140 green card application, must have been pending with the U.S. citizenship for at least 180 days since filing. – and immigration services (USCIS);
  • The new job is in the “same or similar” field as the job for which the original green card application was submitted (this requires a complex legal analysis based on several factors).

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