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How to Get a US Green Card if You Have a Temporary Work Visa

It is beneficial to pursue a nonimmigrant work visa before applying for permanent residency. Immigration paths (like family or employment-based green cards) are often considered to be the best ways to get a green card. Permanent residency through either of these paths may come with the cost of a significant wait time. In some instances, these wait times are as short as a year. In others, the wait time could be decades. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of getting a temporary work visa before applying for permanent residency. This information is helpful in your transition from a work visa to a green card.

Below are the nonimmigrant work visas that are most common and relevant to your work. Click the respective links to learn more about them:

  • O-1: this work visa is for those with extraordinary ability, such as professionals at the top of their field, in arts, sciences or business.
  • H-1B: this work visa is for foreign workers who are sponsored by companies to work in specialty positions.
  • L-1: this work visa enables U.S. based employers to transfer managerial or executive level employees from an affiliated foreign office to a U.S. office.
  • TN: this work visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the U.S., in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers.

Moving from a temporary work visa to a green card comes with unique advantages and disadvantages.

Obtaining a temporary work visa gives you the opportunity and flexibility to live in the U.S. before making major commitments. Some work visas even grant you the flexibility of being able to adjust your immigration status in the future, if your long-term plans change. 

It’s important to know exactly what the steps are to get a green card if you already have a work visa. If you pursue permanent residency through your existing employer, then your ability to get a green card in the U.S. will be based on your employer’s willingness to petition on your behalf. The process for petition is straightforward. You can learn more about the steps, here.

Immigration is complex. You don’t have to do it alone. At Legalpad, we have helped hundreds of startup founders accomplish their immigration goals. Our attorneys map out your case plan based on your goals and eligibility. If you’re ready to get started: reach out.

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