Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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I’m in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. My employer won’t sponsor me for a green card, so I’m looking to apply for one on my own. My husband and I are both citizens of Germany, but I was born in India. I’ve heard that people born in India face waiting decades for a green card. Is there any way to minimize the wait?
— Dedicated in Daly City
Thanks for your question. It’s great to hear you want to pursue a green card on your own. As always, I recommend that you contact an experienced immigration attorney to help guide you through the green card application and interview process.
I’ll discuss the green card options that don’t require you to have an employer or family sponsor and lay out a few tricks that might support you to minimize your wait time for a green card. For more details on these strategies, listen to my podcast on priority dates.
As you may know, your country of birth — rather than your country of citizenship — is what counts when assessing your eligibility for a green card and how long it will take to get one.
All green card categories — except for those for the spouse, parents and dependent children of U.S. citizens — have a cap on the number that can be issued each year. In addition, these categories have a per-country limit of 7% of the total number available. Because the demand in most green card categories from individuals born in India far exceeds the supply for that country, the wait times are excessively long for individuals who were born there.
For individuals who must wait for a green card, their priority date determines their place in the green card line. If you self-petition for a green card, your priority date is when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your initial green card petition.