If you are a foreign-born athlete or entertainer and are seeking to become a permanent United States resident, you may likely be seeking the most efficient way to obtain Green Card status. Exactly how you attain this status depends partly on your situation, what your occupation is, and how long you plan to live in the United States. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), nearly 577,000 individuals were granted permanent residence in 2019. Additionally, the number of Green Card applications decreased by 14%. Let’s examine the process of changing one’s status from P-1 Visa to Green Card.
What Are P-1 Visas For?
P-1 Visas are designated for those arriving in the U.S. to compete at an athletic event. These people include:
- An individual athlete at an international competition;
- A member of a team at an international event;
- A professional athlete; or
- The coach of a team located in the U.S. and a member of a foreign association or league.
Amateur athletes who come to the U.S. to compete in a performance-style event, such as a theatrical ice-skating tour, are also classified under P-1 Visa status, whether they arrive as individuals or as a member of a team.
Difficulty of the Transition from P-1 Visa to Green Card
It can often be extremely difficult to transition from any type of Visa (including P-1) to a Green Card, partly because of the large amount of documentation included in the process. Since some of these documents are complex and contain advanced terminology, you may consider enlisting the help of a reputable attorney.
Who is Eligible to Apply for H-1B Visa
This type of visa denotes that the holder has a highly desirable occupation and that he/she has completed a certain level of education and training to obtain a particular work opportunity. H-1B visas are granted for up to six years. After six years, the visa holder must return to his/her native country; however, there is a grace period of 10 days after this visa expires for foreign workers to plan their return.
Generally, a bachelor’s degree or higher is required to be considered someone holding a “specialty occupation” that would denote eligibility for an H-1B Visa.
Find Employment to Sponsor
Every employer who wishes to sponsor a foreign employee to receive a Green Card from an H-1B visa status must register with the Department of Labor. Once an employer has filled out the online form, they will be given a user ID, password, and PIN number. The DOL will also order the employer to pay the prevailing wage (i.e. the full wage established by the state) to foreign workers. State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) and State Employment Services (SESAs) can assist employers with the process of obtaining prevailing wage certification.
Fill Out Form I-485
This constitutes the final stage of transitioning from H-1B to Green Card status. Form I-485 is designed for anyone who wishes to apply to register for permanent residence or adjust their status. This form is sent to USCIS and, pending approval, can permit an employee to work and reside permanently and legally in the U.S. If you are in the U.S., after filing form I-485, this should be the final step; however if you are in another country you will need to have your status adjusted at the local U.S. Embassy (consular processing).
USCIS notes that if you are a legal permanent resident age 18 or older, you must have a valid Green Card with you at all times. There are many benefits to having a Green Card, including reduced university tuition fees.
Should you eventually decide to become a U.S. citizen, you can apply for citizenship after living in America for five years.
Reach Out to the Immigration Law Experts
Speak to the immigration law professionals at Johnson & Masumi to learn more about the process of transitioning from a P-1 visa to Green Card status. For more than 30 years, we have served clients throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., among other locations.
Our team will guide you through every step of the process of securing a Green Card and explain to you what precautions you should take given your residence and employment status. We also have experience handling processes associated with other types of employment visas, including EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visas.