Changing jobs for an immigrant is legally complicated and depends on several factors including when Forms I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) were filed and their processing status. Depending on the circumstances, the immigration laws and rules provide immigrants the ability to change jobs and/or employers without having to start over with a new Form I-140 and/or without jeopardizing the ongoing processing of their Form I-485. This is called "job portability."
Under current rules, a green card applicant can change jobs/employers without having to obtain approval for a new Form I-140 under two conditions:
- Their I-485 petition has been pending for at least 180 days
- The new job is in the same or similar occupational classification as the job on the approved I-140
Note that the counting of days begins on the receipt date when Form I-485 is received by the immigration services. The "receipt date" will be listed on the Notice received from the immigration services.
Job portability has been allowed since the enactment of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act ("AC21") which was passed in 2000. One of the most complicated issues under the AC21 is whether the new job is the "same or similar" to the job on which the I-140 is based. The key for portability is having a similar job "code." For immigration purposes, jobs are classified generally and also given specific codes. The codes are assigned by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. See here. For example, a computer analyst has the code 15-1211 whereas an information security analyst has the code 15-1212. It is best for the new job to have an identical code (all six numbers), and the new job should definitely have the same general classification (the first two numbers in the code). However, it is not required that the job codes be the same as long as they are substantially similar in terms of duties and requirements for the job.
Other than the two above-listed qualifications, there are no other limitations. The new job can have a different salary, can be located in a different part of the United States and an applicant can use their job portability more than once.
What is the process?
The process of portability involves filing Form I-485J which is filed jointly by the applicant and the new employer. Typically, the applicant starts the process and has the new employer complete its portion of Form I-485J. Note that Form I-485J has two uses. The applicant will want to complete the Form for job portability.
What about changing jobs within the same company?
Job portability is available for changing jobs within a company and for changing employers.
What if my I-140 has not been approved yet?
Generally, job portability is not available if the underlying Form I-140 has not been approved yet.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.