Sat | Jan 19, 2019

I want a green card and a work permit

Published:Tuesday | November 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a holder of a United States (US) visitor's visa. How can I obtain a work permit, and what are the procedures? Also, how can I go about getting a green card?

- NL

Dear NL,

A work permit can take many forms, but it requires a petitioner. If you are the beneficiary of an immediate relative immigrant visa petition, e.g., the spouse of a US citizen, the parent of a US citizen, or the under-21-year-old child of a US citizen and you entered the US legally and are being filed for by your US citizen petitioner, you would qualify for a work permit while your petition is pending.

You can also be petitioned specifically for a work visa, e.g., H1B, H2B, and that is tantamount to a work permit that would entitle you to be in the States for the length of the work visa and to work specifically for the employer noted on your visa. An H1B is normally for specialised workers with a certain level of education (minimally a bachelor's degree) and/or certain amount of work experience in the field for which they are being sponsored to work. If granted, the H1B visa is valid for three years and can be renewed for an additional three years. If the employer desires, while the immigrant is working on the H1B visa, they can sponsor the worker for a green card.


An H2B visa is a temporary work visa usually given to seasonal workers, e.g. hospitality workers. A green card, like a work permit, also requires a petitioner - a family member or an employer.

Family members who can currently file are US citizen and green card holder spouses; US citizen parents of children - married and unmarried; green card holder parents of unmarried sons and daughters; and US citizen brothers and sisters. An employer can file for an employee who is considered a skilled worker or who holds an advanced degree.

There are rare instances where a person can self-petition for a green card, e.g., a person who is married to an American citizen who died before filing a petition for a green card, or someone who is the abused spouse or child of an American citizen or green card holder.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal, and personal-injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator, and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida, and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice.