Here’s another edition on 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 enables people around the world to rise above boundaries and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “I would like to answers to your questions in my next column.
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I am a software engineer currently on H-1B. My employer sponsored me for an EB-2 green card and my application was approved, but I am still waiting for a decision on my application to register for 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 area and position or do I have to keep it in my current position until I get my green card?
If I have to keep it, how long do I have to stay with my current employer after I get my green card?
— Thirst for change
As my dad (also an immigration attorney) would always say, here’s one of those classic lawyer answers: “It depends.”
It’s so exciting when a company is willing to sponsor you for a green card, but things can change quickly, especially in the Valley. The last two years have been a time of self-reflection and re-evaluation. Thanks for getting in touch and here’s an overview of some of the common options.
Can I transfer my green card?
The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) enables some professionals to transfer their employment-sponsored green card process from one original employer to another without giving up their “place in line.”
There are various conditions such as:
- The I-485 (Application for registration of permanent status or adjustment of status), the last step after submitting the I-140 green card application must have been pending at USCIS for at least 180 days from filing;
- The new job is in the “same or similar” field as the job for which the original green card application was filed (this involves a complex legal analysis based on various factors).