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.”
Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.
I’m working in the Bay Area on an H-1B visa and my employer won’t sponsor my green card.
I really want permanent residence, but I never won a Nobel prize; I’m single; and I don’t have a million dollars yet. However, I think I might qualify for an EB-2 NIW green card.
What can you share?
— National in Napa
Wonderful that you’re taking matters into your own hands! This is a complicated process, so the most important advice I can give you is to retain an experienced business immigration attorney to represent you and prepare and file your green card case.
For additional do’s and don’ts in U.S. immigration, please check out the recent podcast that my law firm partner, Anita Koumriqian, and I posted on the commandments of immigration (and especially what to not do when it comes to visas and green cards).
This particular episode focuses on family-based green cards, but these recommendations are timeless and apply to individuals who are self-petitioning for employment-based green cards, such as the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) for exceptional ability and the EB-1A for extraordinary ability. Our top recommendation in that podcast episode is to avoid DIY immigration, so definitely retain legal counsel!
Filing for an EB-2 NIW or any green card requires more than just filling out the appropriate forms. The process needs to be understood, as the law and legal requirements, and the analysis of whether and how you can best qualify is complicated.
With any immigration matter, one needs to have the resources to fully understand the process, the steps for applying, and the timing and deadlines. We want to always make sure that you always maintain legal status (never falling out of status) so that you can remain in the U.S. (and don’t have to leave).