The H-2B visa is a nonimmigrant classification, which means it does not offer a direct path to a green card. However, H-2B visa holders can find alternative ways to attain lawful permanent residence in the United States.
In this article, you will discover how an H-2B visa holder can get a US green card.
Can H-2B Lead to Green Card? – The Verdict
While the H-2B visa offers no direct path to lawful permanent residence in the United States, temporary nonagricultural workers may use alternative strategies to get a green card.
If an H-2B temporary worker finds a US employer willing to sponsor him or her, it is possible to apply for an employment-based visa (green card). The process is quite complex, as the H-2B is not a “dual intent” visa.
In most cases, only H-2B workers who are highly skilled have the chance to qualify for an employment-based green card. Additionally, the US sponsor must handle the application process that requires the “PERM” labor certification.
The permanent labor certification (PERM) is an immigration process required for employers who want to hire foreign nationals as permanent US residents.
Issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL), the PERM certification protects the US labor market by ensuring foreign workers are not displacing equally qualified domestic workers. During the process, the DOL must certify that no qualified US applicants were able, willing, or available for the petitioner’s job offer.
A US employer must sponsor foreign applicants to obtain an employment-based visa. The only exception is the National Interest Wavier (NIW) visa, which permits eligible foreign nationals to self-petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Another alternative to applying for a US green card is through a family-based petition. The best approach is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for an individual assessment.
Is it Possible to Maintain H-2B Status While Waiting for a US Green Card?
The transition from H-2B nonimmigrant status to lawful permanent residence (green card) with an employment-based or a family-based visa is a complex process. Prospective green cardholders need to plan carefully to maintain their temporary status while the green card application is processed.
If an H-2B worker is the beneficiary of a PERM application approved by US DOL, this foreign worker is not allowed to extend his or her temporary status. Once the PERM application is approved, it is not possible to extend a nonimmigrant classification.
When a US employer files a PERM application on a worker’s behalf, US immigration officers know that there is an immigrant intent, and the worker does intend to leave the country.
Leaving the United States under such conditions may expose applicants to uncertainty, as US immigration may refuse to allow some individuals into the country even if they present a valid H-2B visa.
As it is plain to see, the level of complexity involved in the process requires expert legal guidance. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney to protect your status while waiting for a new US visa.