Green cards are a valuable document for those looking to live and work in the United States. The process of obtaining a green card can be long and complicated, leading many to wonder if it is possible for them to be working in the US while waiting for their green card application to be approved. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of visa an immigrant has and the type of work they seek.
The options for working while waiting for a green card vary significantly for those already in the US. For example, an immigrant with a valid work permit, such as an H1-B or L-1 visa, may be eligible to work, while those with a student visa may have more limited options. On the other hand, a fiancé(e)s or a tourist with a tourist visa may face even stricter restrictions when working in the US.
This blog will discuss the various scenarios in detail, providing a comprehensive overview of what is possible for immigrants seeking to work in the US while waiting for their green cards. It will cover the eligibility requirements and legal restrictions for each scenario and provide tips for navigating the process and maximizing the chances of success. Whether you are already working in the US or planning to come in the future, this blog will provide the information you need to make informed decisions about working in the US while waiting for your green card.
Immigrants With Valid Work Permits
Immigrants with a valid work permit, such as an H1-B or L-1 visa, may be eligible to be working in the US while waiting for their green card. However, several factors must be considered, including the terms and conditions of the work permit and the restrictions imposed by immigration laws.
Overview Of Work Permits
Work permits, also known as nonimmigrant visas, allow foreign workers to come to the US for a limited period to work in specific industries or for particular employers. There are several types of work visas, including the H1-B and L-1 visas.
The H1-B visa is designed for foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. To be eligible for an H1-B visa, an immigrant must have a job offer from a US employer, and the employer must be willing to sponsor their visa. The H1-B visa is a temporary visa typically valid for three years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional three years.
The L-1 visa, on the other hand, is for intracompany transferees who have been working for a foreign company for at least one year. The L-1 visa allows these employees to come to be working in the US for a subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company. Like the H1-B visa, the L-1 visa requires sponsorship from the employer and is typically valid for three years, with the possibility of renewal.
Both work visas are designed to allow foreign nationals to come to the US for a limited period to work in specific industries or for particular employers. However, it is crucial to understand the eligibility requirements and legal restrictions that apply to these visas to make informed decisions about working in the US while waiting for a green card.
Legal Restrictions On Work With A Valid Work Permit
While holding a valid work permit, such as an H1-B or L-1 visa, allows an immigrant to work in the US, it is essential to understand that several legal restrictions apply.
For the H1-B and L-1 visas, an immigrant can only work for the sponsoring employer and in the specific job for which the visa was approved. If an immigrant wants to change jobs or work for a different employer, they must obtain a new visa or apply for an adjustment status to another visa category.
Additionally, both the H1-B and L-1 visas have annual quotas and processing times, so it is essential to plan and apply well before the desired start date. The H1-B visa also requires an application fee, and the L-1 visa requires a fraud prevention and detection fee.
Finally, it is essential to understand that work visas, such as H1-B and L-1 visas, are temporary and do not lead to permanent residency or citizenship. To remain in the US permanently, an immigrant must apply for an adjustment status to a different visa category or apply for a green card.
Immigrants with work visas are not the only individuals that have restrictions on working within the United States. Immigrants that are in the U.S. with student visas must also be careful about engaging in unauthorized employment. The next section will discuss the work restrictions of immigrants with student visas.
Immigrants With Student Visas
For immigrants already in the US with a student visa, whether they can work while waiting for a green card depends on their student visa and the specific circumstances.
Overview Of Student Visas
Student visas, such as the F-1 and M-1 visas, allow international students to study in the US for a limited period. In addition to attending classes and completing coursework, many student visas enable certain types of on-campus and off-campus employment. However, the eligibility for work and the restrictions that apply can vary depending on the student visa type and the student’s specific circumstances.
Eligibility To Work With A Student Visa
For F-1 visa holders, on-campus employment is typically allowed and does not require additional authorization. This can include working in the school’s library, cafeteria, or a research project. Off-campus jobs, such as internships or co-op, may also be allowed under certain circumstances with prior authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
M-1 visa holders, on the other hand, are generally not eligible for employment in the US.
It is important to note that the eligibility for work and the restrictions that apply can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the student and the type of student visa they hold. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or the USCIS for more information on the eligibility for work with a student visa.
Legal Restrictions On Work For A Student Visa
Several legal restrictions apply for students authorized to work with their student visas. For example, on-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during vacations. Additionally, off-campus employment must be related to the student’s field of study and cannot displace a US worker.
It is essential to understand these restrictions to make informed decisions about working in the US while waiting for a green card. Additionally, it is crucial to understand that work authorization with a student visa is temporary and does not lead to permanent residency or citizenship. To remain in the US permanently, an immigrant must apply for an adjustment status to a different visa category or apply for a green card.
Immigrants With Tourist Visas
For individuals already in the US with a tourist visa, whether they can work while waiting for a green card is complex and requires a careful examination of the specific circumstances.
Tourist visas, such as the B-2 visa, allow foreign visitors to come to the US for a limited period for tourism or medical treatment. While these visas allow visitors to engage in activities such as visiting family and friends, attending cultural events, or receiving medical treatment, they do not qualify for employment.
Legal Restrictions On Work With A Tourist Visa
The legal restrictions on work with a tourist visa are clear and strict. Engaging in unauthorized work while in the US on a tourist visa is illegal and can have severe consequences. Additionally, working in the US while on a tourist visa can negatively impact an immigrant’s ability to obtain a different type of visa or green card.
It is essential to understand the legal restrictions on working with a tourist visa to make informed decisions about working in the US while waiting for a green card. In general, tourists with a B-2 visa should avoid engaging in any employment and instead focus on their primary purposes for being in the US, such as tourism or medical treatment.
If an immigrant needs to work in the US, it is advisable to apply for a different type of visa that allows for employment, such as an H-1B or L-1 visa, or to adjust their status to another visa category or apply for a green card. Consulting with an immigration attorney or the USCIS is recommended for more information on the eligibility for work with a tourist visa and the legal restrictions that apply.
Navigating the complex immigration system in the US can be challenging, especially when it comes to applying for a work permit while waiting for your green card. Numerous rules, regulations, and requirements must be met, and a single mistake can have serious consequences. This is why it’s crucial to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help you avoid common pitfalls.
An immigration attorney will be able to review your situation and advise you on the best course of action, including which type of visa to apply for, how to complete the application process, and how to respond to any requests for additional information from the USCIS. A Lincoln-Goldfinch Law immigration attorney will have the expertise and knowledge to help you understand the complex immigration laws and regulations in the US and provide you with the legal representation you need to achieve your goals.
Whether you are an immigrant with a valid work permit, a student visa, a tourist visa, or another type of visa, a Lincoln-Goldfinch Law immigration attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals.