I have a friend who wishes to immigrate to the US in the future. However, they do not currently meet any eligibility requirements for a green card nor do they have a sponsor for a non-immigrant visa at this time. They will be coming to visit the US soon, under the Visa Waiver Program.

While they are mainly coming for tourism and social purposes, my friend also hopes that the visit can be used to find proper sponsorship for a green card or work visa. However, I understand that the VWP does not allow for dual-intent like a work visa generally does. This raises some questions.

  1. If employment is found prior to their currently-planned trip, is it possible to change/cancel the VWP permit to have a green card or work visa granted for the trip instead?
  2. While in the US under the VWP, may they apply for US-based jobs and attend interviews (under the condition that work does not begin while still under the VWP)?
  3. If employment is found while on this trip, will they need to return to their home country before a green card or work visa can be granted? If so, for how long?

1 Answer 1

  1. There's nothing to change or cancel. If the person becomes eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant work visa, he can simply apply.

  2. Yes.

  3. Yes. There's no work-sponsored immigrant visa as far as I'm aware, so it will be a nonimmigrant visa application. The waiting time depends on the circumstances and the visa type, but it would most likely be in the neighborhood of several months to a couple of years.

Questions about the practical aspects of immigration are better suited to Expatriates.

  • Thanks for the pointer to Expatriates. I didn't know we had that. Regarding "There's no work-sponsored immigrant visa as far as I'm aware" - what about an EB-2 or EB-3?
    – Iszi
    Sep 19, 2017 at 17:20
  • Also, for your answer to part 3: Is that return trip only logistically required due to processing times of the application? Or is it legally required before the application can be initiated?
    – Iszi
    Sep 19, 2017 at 18:14
  • 1
    @Iszi you're right, the EB visas are immigrant visas. The backlog seems to be in the 2-to-12 year range, depending on nationality and qualifications. I suppose that's why we don't much hear about them. The return trip is required because those who've entered the US in VWP status are not allowed to change or adjust status. In theory, they may be able to apply at a US consulate in a country other than the country of residence, but in practice such an application is less likely to succeed.
    – phoog
    Sep 19, 2017 at 23:06

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