This blog post answers two frequently asked questions about the following:
- Renewing Your Green Card Set To Expire When Taking The Next Step To Naturalize; and
- How To Juggle A Pending H-1B Work Visa When Your Work Authorization Through OPT Is Expiring And You Need To Keep Working.
QUESTION 1: My U.S. Immigration Green Card is about to expire and I would like to apply for Naturalization. Is it ok to skip the Green card renewal process and just apply for Naturalization to save time and money?
It's important to note that although unconditional U.S. Permanent resident status requires a card renewal every 10 years, the U.S. Permanent resident's status does not expire. Regardless, an N-400 application to naturalize is often rejected when the Permanent Resident Card is expired.
Therefore, we recommend to all our clients that 90 days before expiration of their U.S. Permanent Resident status an application to renew their Green Card is promptly filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The N-400 may also be filed concurrently if necessary, but your immigration legal counsel should review your case before filing both together.
QUESTION 2: I am currently waiting for my H-1B visa to be processed by USCIS, and current premium processing is not available; May I continue work for my U.S. employer while my visa is pending?
An F-1 student working in Optical Training Status ("OPT") needs to be very careful. If an F-1 student's visa has been selected for a visa number and is pending, a U.S. Federal Regulation called the 'cap gap' may permit the student to continue working on an expired OPT employment authorization card. However, the I-20 should be marked by the school's Designated Student Office ("DSO) as "recommended for Cap Gap" and the employee and U.S. employer must maintain the expired OPT card on file as proof of legal work status.
The student-employee should consult with U.S. Immigration counsel to ensure cap gap eligibility before remaining in the United States and working on a pending H-1B visa application.
Our firm handles Optical Practical Training, OPT, Work authorization, Motions to Reopen, Motions to Reconsider, Appeals, Student visa, F-1, Complications with Designated Student Officer, I-20 H-1B, O, L-1A and E visas, Consular Processing, Deferred Inspections, Work visas, EB-1, EB-2, and Eb-3 employment based work visas. Adjustment of Status, I-140, I-485 and I-539 Change of Status and Extension of status.
Our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association ("AILA"), and have 20 years of experience in U.S. Immigration matters. We are standing by to answer questions. We serve clients through the United States and abroad.