Can I obtain permanent residence with an H1B visa?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. When it comes to work based visas, there are two types – temporary work visas, and permanent work visas. H1B, L1 (L1A and L1B), the two most common types of work based visas, are classified as “temporary work visas,” in other words, holding an H1B or L1 visa does not give you the right to apply for permanent residence.

H1B visa will grant you a maximum of six years to work in the United States. If you previously had any other type of temporary work visa, an L1, for instance, your time on an H1B visa will be reduced by the amount of time that you previously spent in the United States as an L1 visa holder.

Unless you fit into certain narrow categories, there is no hope of extending your H1B visa beyond six years.

If you want to obtain permanent residence in the United States base on employment, you need to look into permanent work visas – EB 1 through 5.

BE WARE OF FALSE PROMISES AND TRAPS. Many employers give foreign workers the promise that they will be able to obtain permanent residence after a certain amount of years on an H1B. This type of promises, however, is often false. While it is true that the U.S. employers could petition a permanent work visa (EB 1 through 5) for a foreign employee that is currently on an H1B visa, they do not have the obligation to do so.

As a matter of fact, most U.S. employers would rather replace H1B employees whose visa is about to expire with newly grads in order to save cost. Among the myriad of excuses, the one most often used is “you do not qualify for a permanent work visa.” In reality, however, an employee with the qualifications to successfully obtain an H1B visa would fit under at least one EB visa category.

If you’re currently seeking an H1B visa, already have an H1B visa, and your intention is to stay in the United States, open an honest dialog with your visa sponsor to find out whether they have any intentions of hiring on a permanent basis and would sponsor a permanent work visa on your behalf.

To find out more about H1B, L1 (L1A and L1B), and EB 1 through 5 visas, contact Kristy Qiu, a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale immigration attorney.