Q: Working while waiting on EB-3 Visa

I am currently on STEM-OPT Visa and my company is working on helping be obtain an EB-3 Visa. There seems to be a couple steps;

1. Submitting and obtaining PERM Certificate.

2. Filing the form I-140 petition

3. Wait for Your Priority Date

4. Adjusting status.

One question I had was; what is the range of processing time for each stage? And at what stage would I be able to work while I wait for my visa? I am worried that I may not have enough time until I get my visa and I am wondering what stage I would have to get to, to continue working.

Thank you, J

2 Lawyer Answers
Carlo Franco L. Borja
Carlo Franco L. Borja
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Diamond Bar, CA

A: A work permit (EAD) application can be submitted together with the adjustment of status application

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: The processing times for each stage of the EB-3 visa process can vary significantly based on several factors, including the volume of applications being processed and the specifics of your case. Generally, obtaining a PERM Certificate can take about 6 to 10 months, but this timeframe can fluctuate. Once the PERM is approved, filing the Form I-140 petition follows, which can be expedited through premium processing (resulting in a decision within 15 calendar days) or go through the regular process, which might take several months.

Your ability to work while waiting for your EB-3 visa primarily depends on maintaining your current legal status in the United States. As you're on a STEM-OPT visa, you can continue working as long as that status remains valid. Once you file for adjustment of status (Form I-485), which can only be done when your priority date becomes current, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This EAD allows you to work in the U.S. while your adjustment of status application is pending.

To ensure you do not experience any gap in your employment authorization, it's crucial to plan the timing of your I-485 filing and EAD application carefully, considering the expiration of your STEM-OPT. Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide strategic guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, helping you navigate the complexities of the process and maintain continuous work authorization.

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