Life as H1B vs Green Card and US Citizen vs India

Life as H1B holder vs. GC or Citizen – USA vs. India

In Return to India by KumarUpdated : 48 Comments

If you are working as a H1B holder in US, you have lot of limitations in terms of your freedom to work or do any business. You do not get many benefits as the Green card holders or US Citizens. It might be frustrating at times to be on H1B. Let me share my very brief thoughts on this.  This article is part of the series: Life in US vs. India, Settle in US or India ?

Life as a H1B holder vs. Green Card or Citizen.

If you are on H1B visa, legally you are supposed to work full time only to the company that sponsors you visa.  You can do stock trading on H1B visa , but it cannot be like a full time job like day trader, you cannot really work in 3 or 4 jobs like some Americans do. On H1B visa, you cannot claim unemployment if you lose your job…for instance, if you get laid-off, you would have to leave the country unless you find another employer to transfer your visa. You cannot apply for federal loans for education.  If you are a Green card holder or Citizen, you can do most of the stuff as I just mentioned.  The reality is, it takes a long time to get Green Card. You can apply for Citizenship after you get GC…it take some more time…some of you may want to work for NASA….to work there you have to be a US Citizen…I am just giving a overview of some of the stuff here.

Lets look at life in India….I do not think we are bound by any visa, you can work wherever you want because you are Indian Citizen…You can work for ISRO, as you are already citizen. You can have a day job and have a business too. You are free to do many things in India…

Decision to Stay in India or Come to US as per life?

The reality is, life on H1B visa can be tricky at times and very frustrating if you do not have job security at your work.  The most frustrating part for most of the H1B visa holders is the wait time for getting Green Card or EAD. It can be few years and you need to have patience….and it is based on how the processing speeds up with USCIS for Green Card. Anyways, the point I am trying to make is, your life changes drastically after you get Green Card, but you need to have patience to get there…Some of you might want to have the freedom to do many things during the first few years of your career and also have control of it…it could be tough if you are on H1B as you cannot do stuff they way you want….sometimes it can be a long time and very frustrating…there is nothing like right or wrong decision here…it is up to you to decide if you are ok to wait and work until you get GC or Citizenship. Honestly, this article is just a very brief overview of life on H1B vs. GC…it is just an aspect to consider if you plan to stay here in US…

What do you think ?  Would you wait that long for Green Card ? Have you been waiting for GC ?


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Comments ( 48 )

  1. tina

    Hello,

    My fiancee is a US citizen and I am an indian citizen. In a few months, our wedding in scheduled in india.
    I would like to know which dependent visa should i apply?
    I see there are various options for applying for i-130 ( from US or outside US ) .
    If i apply away from US – what would be the approximate time for my processing? Would i be allowed to travel if my application is pending?

  2. Rishabh

    Plz help me i have got visa for green card as family visa . I am in 3rd year BBA so can i complete my degree after getting green card or is this illegal ?

  3. Ganesh

    I am a recent B.E Mechanical graduate from India.since I am financially not stable I will be doing MS in India and PhD in USA. How long will it take to get a green card when I do my PhD?

  4. Ghanshyam

    Hi,

    Indian company X issued my H1b visa, I changed My Job to company Y in India, now company Y transffered petitions and send me on H1b to US. I dont like here and want to go back india. Is that possible? if yes how? what to do?

    Please help.

  5. george

    Hello Saurabh,

    Your website is awesome, I used it when i filed my h1b papers 1 year ago, and here I am again with a quick question in regards to Green Card EB3.

    I have 1 year OPT and 1 year H1B with current employer, they want to sponsor for the green card but in order to fulfill the position the employee must have at least 1 year of experience in the field, (my field is pharmaceutical there is only 1 company in my state that does what we do) however based on my research I cant used the experience gained with current employer to fulfill that requirement in the STEM process, but a lawyer told us that if the position is a management position that we could use my experience from current employer, do you think that is true? or he is just trying to get my business, once again my research in this topic told me that can’t use the experience in h1b for green car for the same employer

    thank you!!!

  6. Vicky

    i was on H-1 and got my GC few months back. I need to go to india on short trip , do i need to take care of any formalities (documentation) before leaving and while returning back to US

  7. Rajesh

    Some queries on H1:
    1) Might seem to be a silly question, but are we supposed to carry our passport with stamped H1 all the time when outside home ?
    2) Can we not come back to India for leaves say a month of leave etc when on H1B. Is there any restriction to number of leaves in a year or so for H1B and for GC ?
    3) Can we pursue further education along with job while on H1 in US ?
    4) Usually H1 stamping is valid for how many years ? And after how long can we apply for GC ?
    5) Is it fair to buy property / vehicle while in US on H1B ? Because you might need to sell on short notice ?
    6) Is B1 visa the only visa for allowing our parents to come to US and stay with me, while I’m on H1 ? Do I need permission / help from employer ? and that invitation letter is invitation by me or by employer ?
    7) Do we get any medical benefits / facilities while on H1B ? Considering that medical costs can be high.
    8) While applying for H1B, do we need to declare higher education ? That is if we plan to pursue full time higher education along with job here in India, is it possible because working hours don’t clash usually; will that degree be useful while applying ? Or will that be unnecessary complication of how full time job with work ?

  8. V G Krishna

    Hi. I HV arrived into US on H1b last week and per my job nature I can work remotely. My daughter is studying at Canada and I want to go and stay with her at Canada on a visitor visa for 6 months and return to US on my H1b. During my stay at Canada I will be working remotely for my h1b sponsor company and I will be paid full wages.
    Will this 6 month period of absense in US create any problems while reentering US on H1b status.

  9. nitin

    Hi,

    My employer is filing GC for me(currently i am in h1b visa). Will the GC application be valid in case I switch to other employer? Or do I need to work for the same employer until GC is approved?

  10. RAJ VISHWAKARMA

    HI, I AM A INDIAN CITIZEN AND RECENTLY I MARRIED AN AMERICAN CITIZEN …AND I WILL RECIEVE MY GC SOON …WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR ME IN EDUCATION …LIKE IF I WILL APPLY FOR MS IN US UNIVERSITIES FOR MS IN COMPUTER SCIENCE…CAN I WILL GET SCHOLARSHIP…IF NOT THAN HOW MUCH FEES I HAVE TO PAY FOR MY MS DEGREE AS A GC HOLDER RATHER THAN INDIAN CITIZEN

  11. alison

    Hi..!!

    I have indian passport, I am interested in shifting to USA for peaceful life, I wanted to know can i sell my house in india and buy a home in USA and put it on the rent some portion and make my living? can i apply for residence visa on my self bought home basis?

    1. raj

      If your house if worth million(or half ) dollars, you may apply for eb5 conditional green card by investing in a business.
      If you have computer skills with experience, you can try h1b visa
      If you are exceptionally talented or some phd research fellow you may try eb1 green card.
      If you work in mnc as manager and ur mnc has office in US you may l1 visa
      Last and the best, apply for education. F1 if you have 16 yrs EDU.

      That’s all.

  12. Woori

    Hi Saurabh,
    My husband on H1B, currently he is informed to be laid off after 9 months working. What should he do now? Is it easy to have another employer?

  13. G S Rao

    How is it for people holding L1 VISA? I believe, in comparison to H1B, people holding L1 can get the green card quickly? No labor clearance required and applications can be fast tracked!! Can you share some thoughts on Living in USA on L1 visa?

    Regards,

    GS

  14. Jaecy

    My H1B approved in May, 2012 in the USA and I want to go back to my country and come back to the USA after 1.5 months. Is there any possibility that my H1b visa got denied by US Embassy in my country? Should I go to to interview to the US Embassy in order to come back to the US?

    Thank you for your help.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Jacey,
      Yes there is always a possibility of H-1 visa getting denied during stamping. Make contingency plans in case visa stamping runs into issues.

  15. lajja shah

    I am in a dileama too if I should wait for my GC (a minimum of 3 more yrs)..I’ve been here since 2002. It’s truly frustating and at times I wonder if its worth getting a GC to begin with. Does it really provide benefits? Even if I wait until I get my GC, I will have to come back to the States every yr (if I am not wrong) to continue to keep it active until I can apply for my citizenship.

    I fail to make myself understand the love for a GC or citizenship.

    1. Amit

      My view exactly.. If you want to be in India for good then why wait for GC. In my case, I have been on and off on work trips to USA until finally my company applied for my GC in 2007. Then I made a switch in 2010 and bumped my category with new company and got my GC 2 weeks back. But unless I decide to run my own business, it will not benefit me. Yes, one good thing is no more stamping uncertainty. Finally, I will like to say that more you work here in USA, more difficult it gets to work back in India.

      1. JK

        Amit,

        Can you explain the below statement, how? – Just curious

        “Finally, I will like to say that more you work here in USA, more difficult it gets to work back in India.”

  16. sathish

    Hi,

    I have come to US in H1B for working in a company. Can i do online part time jobs?? is that legal for H1B visa holders?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Sathish,
      You can only do jobs which are covered in your I-129 filing and for the employer who holds the H-1. You cannot do any other jobs.

    2. ankit

      Hi Satish,
      This is ankit from Vadodara, Gujarat, India. I am working in IT company as a programmer analyst. I wanted to come USA for studies but it couldn’t happened due to family circumstances. Now I cant do for study due to so some reason so I am looking for H1B sponsor from USA. I would like to know your profession & your concerns.
      I would be grateful if you can help me out in either or some other ways.

      – Ankit

  17. Rohit

    Hi Saurabh

    I have a couple of questions:

    1.Is it true that once Green card application is filed, one is not allowed to leave the country?

    2.If the applicant has filed for a green-card and then gets married before the petition is approved, what happens to the applicant’s green card status. How does it change for the Spouse? can the spouse apply immediately or has to wait?

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rohit,
      1. While the PERM is under process. They can leave US before or after that process
      2. The dependents are added during I-485 stage. So if the person gets married prior to I-485 filing, then the dependent can be added at the time of I-485. However, if 485 has already been filed before marriage, then I don’t know the way out.

    2. vivek

      If you’re not on an H1, and on a EAD, and marry before getting approved for GC, your spouse will be eligible to “follow to join” benefits. Their GC process will start as soon as you obtain your GC.
      However even after you get your GC, their processing can continue only when you’re current (stops if dates retrogress). Form “I-824” is used for follow to join benefits. You can look up follow to join benefits.

      Also, if you have an approved I-140, you can file for a H1 before your GC is approved. After that, when you become current, you should file I-485 for your dependents asap. Filing has to be before you’re approved. Then they are eligible to come as your dependents, and also eligible to get GC as soon as your petition is approved.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Vicky,
      It will be ok. However, when returning back do carry a recent employment letter from employer stating that your employment is still valid and they would like you to join the firm in US.

      1. vicky

        saurabh,

        thanks for the reply.i will be working in india in same compmay on us payroll..can i do this for 6 months…

        another q is that my wife is on h4 ..can she go and stay in india for 1 year and come back here..will h4 will be valid then?

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Vicky,
          Yes, you can work that way. Do check what the tax implications will be.

          She can do that. She can return on H-4 visa as long as her H-4 visa stamp is valid and unexpired, and you are employed in US on valid 797. If her H-4 visa stamp has expired, then she will have to go for H-4 visa stamping (which requires your valid 797)

          1. vicky

            hi saurabh,

            i need to call my mother-in-law on b1 visa..do i need to send all documents by courier and sign each document bye me?

            i am planning to send:

            employee letter,bank letter,passport copy,visa copy,i797 copy,invitaion letter..

            Am I missing something?

            thanks,
            Vishal

          2. administrator
            Saurabh

            vicky,
            Sending them over email is fine. You don’t need to sign each and every one of them. It would be nice to send the signed invitation letter in mail.

    2. vicky

      Hi Saurabh,

      I am on H1b here in usa and having savings account in india. Can i transfer any ammount of money from usa to my saving account?

      Should i open NRE/NRO account?

      1. administrator
        Saurabh

        Vicky,
        If you want to international transfer to your account, then you can use one of the available services like Money2India, Western Union or wire transfer. If you open a NRE account, then you can do ACH transfer from your US account to NRE account, and then forward it to your home country account.

  18. suraj

    Working on H1 is good for ppl like us who are finally inclined in going to india back……..these days companies are retaining H1B holders by promising their GC processing…well both have its pros and cons……

  19. Narinder

    Hi eveyone,
    I lost my Indian passport last year with F1 visa. I applied for new one and I got new passport as well as I 94 Card too. Could you please help me about the visa stamping? Should I got to Canada or?
    Please Help me I am really worried.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Stamping is required only when you plan to travel outside of US. As long as you are in US, you don’t require the stamping. So if you don’t need to travel until your India visit, then you can get it stamped in India.

  20. Pratik Patel

    Hey saurabh thanks for the info. Can you shed some more light on the matter ?
    Like suppose I’m working for a company after completion of my MS, they will apply for my Green card. What if I want it early ? Is it possible to apply for a GC if I do not have a real employer- Scenario1: I’m working part time at the university itself during my completion of MS. Scenario2: I’m doing Ph.D. Now thats addition of a few more years to MS.! Wont have a outside job I guess. Would be doing research work.
    Is it possible to get a GC in that case ?
    And yeah, how much are the quotas for us Indians ? Do they discriminate ?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      GC is for future employment. So it is not necessary to be employed w/ the employer at the time of filing GC. However, most companies do not file GCs for their employees until completion of at least 1 year of job. So legally, an employer can do that for you; practically it may be quite difficult to do so.

      India, China, Philippines and Mexico are highly oversubscribed countries when it comes to GC filing. GC process has per country limit in different GC categories. Once that limit is reached no more GCs are issued to that country in that category, unless there are still open quota numbers in other countries that have may not be fulfilled in the on-going fiscal year.

  21. administrator
    Saurabh

    It is up to the employer to decide whether to file for a GC or not. Employers can file GC for any person working on H1. There is no quota on how many GCs can be applied, but there is a quota on how many GCs are approved each year in each category for each country.

    1. vivek

      There is quota on how many GCs can be applied also. That’s why not only people who are current according to their priority dates can apply for I-485.
      When you are eligible to apply for I-485, your status changes to pending Adjustment, which means, you can stay in the country until your GC is approved. You can also apply for EAD (work permit with much less restrictions than H1B), and travel document (Advanced Parole), which has much less restrictions than H1B also.

      Some people keep their H1B even when they get their EAD and AP, because when you travel on H1B and reenter US, all your previous violations are cleared. This is very important, because during adjudication of GC, you cannot have status violations of more than 180 days, otherwise your GC will be denied.

  22. sam

    can any one please tell me green card can available to all H1B holder or is there any limit for it. I have not seen anyone H1B holder returned back to India due to not getting of green card after 6 year staying with H1B visa. Please comment on it.

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