In March 2015, I received my US R-1 Visa, which allowed me to accept a job offer in the Philippines. If you’re not familiar, R-1 is the visa granted for religious workers to work legally in the USA. Although I am not a pastor, I moved to the USA to take on a job with a religious organization, which is tre church I belong to–The United Methodist Church.
Based on conversations with our organization’s lawyer, and based on my reading of the requirements, I need to wait until I have completed two (2) years of service with my current organization before I could apply for a Green Card.
My official first day of work was May 1, 2015. That meant that the earliest time I could apply for a Green Card is May 1, 2017.
Just to make sure that I would not be a out-of-status in the US, my employer applied for an extension of my R-1 visa. The initial R-1 visa is good for two and a half years, renewable for another 2.5 years for a total of 5 years.
We got the extension but I didn’t apply right away. I got occupied by my responsibilities at work, which is why it took me another year to apply.
Here’s our Green Card timeline
1st Step: I-360 Application
Religious Workers fall under the Special Immigrant category, which is under the EB-4 classification of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). As such, we need to file USCIS Form I-360.
Unlike other employment preferences, we cannot apply for the petition and adjustment of status at the same time.
The first step is to apply for the form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- May 12, 2018: We submitted USCIS Form I-360
- May 18, 2018: Application Received by the USCIS
- October 23, 2018: USCIS approved I-360
The first step of the process (form I-360) took a little over 5 months!
2nd Step: I-485 Adjustment of Status (AOS) Application
After the approval of Form I-360, we can apply for the Adjustment of Status (AOS).
- November 10, 2018: Submitted USCIS Forms I-485, I-131, and I-765.
- Nov 19, 2018: Application Received by the USCIS.
- January 15, 2019: Biometrics Appointment Notice Received.
- Jan 31, 2019: Biometrics Taken at the Nashville USCIS Application Support Center.
- March 20, 2019: USCIS approved of my wife’s I-765 (Employment Authorization Document).
- March 26, 2019: We received my wife’s Social Security Number and work permit card.
- April 20, 2019: I received my Travel Authorization/Advance Parole Document (USCIS Form I-131).
- August 28, 2019: We received our Green Cards in the mail!
All in all, the Adjustment of Status process took just under 10 months!
The whole Green Card Petition and Adjustment of Status process took 15 months!
If you want to read more articles on our Green Card application, please go to the following links:
- How to apply for a US Green Card without a Lawyer: 7 Tips
- Don’t submit documents unless the USCIS asked for it
- So we applied for a Green Card
- How much does it cost to apply for a Green Card in the USA