Dear Sophie! How long do I have to stay in my current job after getting a green card?

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Here is another edition “Dear Sophie”, an advice column answering immigration questions about working in tech companies.

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“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that enables people around the world to rise above boundaries and achieve their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you work in HR, are a founder, or are looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I am happy to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase an annual or two-year subscription with a 50% discount.

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Dear Sophie,

I am currently a software engineer working for 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 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 field and position, or should I stick with my current position until I receive my green card?

If I insist on this, how long do I have to stay with my current employer after I get a green card?

– Thirst for change

Dear thirst

As my dad (also an immigration lawyer) always said, here is one of the classic lawyer responses: “It depends.”

It’s great 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 introspection and reassessment. Thank you for your feedback. Here is an overview of some common options.

Can I transfer my green card?

Composite image of immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn with the TechCrunch logo in the background.

Image credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

American competitiveness in the twenty-first century law (AC21) allows some professionals to transfer the job-sponsored green card process from one original employer to another without losing their “place in line”.

It has various conditions such as:

  • I-485 (Application for registration of permanent status or change of status), last step after filing I-140 an application for a green card must be pending with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for at least 180 days from the date of submission;
  • The new job is in the same or similar field as the job for which the original green card application was made (this requires complex legal analysis based on many factors).

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