(Paul Choi is an immigration attorney and professor of law located at 16000 Ventura Blvd. Ste 1201, Encino, CA. 91436.  Atty  Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free. Address questions to “mailto:pchoi@pchoilaw.com” pchoi@pchoilaw.com or telephone 818 714-2226.  Atty Choi is pleased to announce that his administrator is Philip Abramowitz who has 30 years of experience in immigration law.)

Question: I am a financial analyst/manager working in the U.S. on an H-1B visa.  My visa is valid until 2013.  My employer is willing to petition me for permanent residence but I heard that the quota is over five years behind. Does this mean that I will have to wait five years to obtain my greencard? My daughter is 18 years old. Will she be able to be included in the greencard if she turns 21 in the meantime? Is there any faster way to obtain my greencard?

Answer:   Your problem is not unique.  The problem that you face is common to everyone who is seeking permanent residence through an employer: the retrogression of the Employment Based Third Preference quota.

The Visa Bulletin for April, 2011 shows that for the Philippines the Third Preference Quota or EB3, reflects a current processing date of July 22, 2005. This means that only persons with a priority date prior to July 22, 2005, can apply for and receive permanent residence.

If you start your application process now through a labor certification, you can expect to wait over five years!   Sure, the quota moves every month, but lately it has advanced very slowly which is not a very good indication of rapid advances in the future.

So how can you make the process faster?  There is one solution that may apply to you and other professionals that is often overlooked: file under a higher and faster quota, called EB2.

Ordinarily, the higher the quota, the faster the processing time.  If you file under the ordinary skilled worker category of EB3, you are lumped into the same category as most everyone else seeking permanent residence through employment: a bookkeeper, computer programmer, nurse, cook, etc.  However, there is a higher and faster quota reserved for advanced degreed professionals who either hold a masters degree or a bachelors degree and at least five years of related experience.  This quota, called EB2 or Second Preference has a limited amount of applicants who can qualify so therefore the waiting time is much shorter. In fact, right now the quota is current and immediately available.

What does that mean for you?  It is possible to go from labor certification to permanent residence in under a year!  You heard that right.  With most labor certifications under the PERM program being adjudicated quickly and applications for adjustment of status being processing very quickly by the USCIS, a total waiting time of under a year is very possible.

I have even seen clients obtain permanent residence in nine months-start to finish.   This is sure a big improvement over the five or six year wait for most EB3 applicants.  If your child is aging out or if your visa will expire soon, this is a great way to gain benefits fast.

How can you qualify? First, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of related experience in your field or a master’s degree and you must have a job offer for a position that normally requires an advanced degree.  There are many instances where an accounting or financial analyst position can require five years of experience in addition to a degree or a bachelors degree.

Other jobs such as professor, market research analyst, management analyst, controller and others can also qualify.  Your employer must be willing to offer you this job and the job requirements must be typical for the position offered.  However, I have seen many accountants and financial managers qualify under EB2 and obtain permanent residence very quickly.

Of course, if you can obtain permanent residence while your daughter is under 21 years of age, she can be included and obtain permanent residence with you.  Certainly, looking into qualifying under EB2 is worthwhile if you are interested in shaving 4 years off your waiting time to immigrate.

(Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration for FREE. Contact him at pchoi @pchoilaw.com or at 818 714-2226.  As always, consultations in office are still FREE)