People often ask me if they can be sponsored by their employer for their green card. The answer depends. If you’re illegal in the United States, an employer cannot generally sponsor you for a green card because you’re out of status. If you’re in status, on an H1B or on a student visa, then yes, your employer can sponsor you for a green card. Keep in mind that the process for getting a green card, depending on your educational level and your experience level, will vary. The more experience you have and the higher your educational level and depending on the job qualifications or the job requirements, will determine whether or not you can apply for a green card in the United States and will determine how long it will take. In general, if you’re applying for a green card for work and the requirements for the job only require a bachelor’s degree and nothing really more or a few years of experience, you’re going to be in an employment category that’s deemed the third preference, EB-3 we call it. That category, in general, can take as long as two years to become current.

What that means is if you’re currently in status on a student visa or an H1B, you’re going to have to maintain lawful status in order for you to get a green card through employment until your visa becomes current. If for some reason you can’t maintain your status, that school ends a year before, or your H1B ends earlier and you can’t extend it for some reason, then you’re going to have to wait for your green card outside of the United States. In other circumstances, if you are illegally here in the United States or you’re not in status, the only way an employer can sponsor you for a green card is if you had filed something with immigration or the Department of Labor prior to April 30, 2001, and were covered under the law called 245-I. You would have to have had either a family-based petition filed on your behalf that was valid or bona fide or an employment-based petition that was filed on your behalf April 30, 2001, and you would in most cases have to demonstrate that you were physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000. There’s two ways that this can happen for you. Either you’re legal and in status and then yes, your employer can sponsor you as long as you maintain that status, or you’re illegal and filed something before April 30, 2001, that was a bona fide application. Yes, your employer could sponsor you. Again, keep in mind that these applications take a long time, there is a quota, and you might have to wait years before you’re going to be eligible for the green card. If you have questions about being sponsored through employment or about your case, please contact my office and I’d be happy to discuss your situation with you.


Cheryl David is an experienced immigration attorney located in New York City. Click here for a free initial consultation.