Are there any visas or green cards that I can get on my own? •


Here’s another edition from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to push beyond limits and chase their dreams,” says Sophie Acorn, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. “Whether you’re in people management, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.” members get access to weekly ‘Dear Sophie’ sections; use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription at 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I am so worried and stressed about all the layoffs! I’m safe for now, but it has made me realize that I need to take control of my own destiny. Are there visas or green cards that I can apply for myself without depending on my employer?

– Silicon stressed

Dear Stressed,

I applaud you for taking the first step towards determining your own immigration destination – and gaining peace of mind.

Let me answer your green card question first, as recent developments affect the timing for the two green cards that individuals can apply for on their own: the EB-1A extraordinary ability green card and the EB-2 NAV (National Interest Waiver). Individuals can apply for the EB-1A or the EB-2 NAV without an employer sponsor or even a job offer.

Last week, the US State Department Visa bulletin for December 2022which shows which green card applications can move forward based on the number of available green cards in each category and the number available to individuals born in certain countries with high rates of immigration to the US, such as India and China.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) releases a monthly report that clarifies whether it will accept amendments to status applications — the final step in the green card process, along with an interview — based on State Department final action dates or filing dates . The USCIS December reportreleased last week, states that USCIS will accept I-485 modification of status requests based on filing dates.

A composite image of immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Bunjak / Sophie Acorn (Opens in a new window)

Submit NOW for EB-1!

If you are eligible to apply for an EB-1A green card, you should apply as soon as possible — and submit your I-140 green card application and your I-485 adjustment of status at the same time. The reason for the urgency is that while the EB-1 green card category will remain valid in December for all individuals regardless of where they were born, this is expected to change for individuals born in India or China.

Due to the high demand for EB-1 green cards and the decrease in the number of available green card numbers this fiscal year compared to the previous year, the State Department expects to impose cut-off dates for individuals born in India and China. If that applies to you, speak to your immigration attorney now to move forward quickly.

There are 140,000 employment-based green cards available each fiscal year, plus any unused family category green cards from the previous fiscal year. This fiscal year (FY 2023), USCIS estimates there will be 197,000 green cards available compared to last fiscal year (FY 2022), when there were 281,507 green cards. I have long advocated increasing the limit on the number of employment-based green cards available each year and eliminating the per-country limit on employment-based green cards, both of which require Congressional action.