Lindsay Hill automation, networking, product management

Our Green Card Journey

We are now Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States - aka Green Card Holders. It took a few years to get to this point. Here’s our timeline, why we did it, what it means for us, and what next.

Timeline

I first moved to the US on an L-1B visa. This is an intra-company transfer visa, that let me move to the US to continue working for Brocade.

  • May 2015 - Began work for Brocade, based in New Zealand.
  • Jul 2016 - Received L-1B visa, allowing us to move to US.
  • Aug 2016 - Moved from New Zealand to US.
  • Nov 2016 - Broadcom announces intention to acquire Brocade
  • Nov 2016 - Green Card process initiated - Department of Labour certification filed.
  • Jul 2017 - PERM filed.
  • Oct 2017 - Extreme Network acquired my business unit. I remained employee of Broadcom.
  • Nov 2017 - PERM approved.
  • Jan 2018 - Received permission to transfer L-1 visa to Extreme Networks.
  • Feb 2018 - I-140 and I-485 submitted.
  • Sep 2018 - I-140 approved.
  • Feb 2019 - I-485 interview scheduled.
  • Mar 2019 - I-485 interview held. Lots of questions, confirming details & history, but all straightforward.
  • One week later: cards in hand

Total time for Green Card part of process (DoL certification, PERM, I-485) 2 years, 4 months. We are lucky that we’re from New Zealand. Due to the way the country allocations work, if I was from India this would have taken at least 10 years.

Why did we do it?

There’s two main issues with the L-1 visa I was on. One is that it has a time limit. Ours was due to expire this year. It can be renewed, but only up to five years.

Second, my visa is tied to my employer. I was unable to change jobs, and if I lost my job, I would have to immediately leave the country. If everything is going well, this is OK. But if, say…your company is being acquired, and the new owner wants to sell your division, it gets very stressful. It also means I have no leverage with salary negotation.

What Difference Does it Make?

First thing is that it makes foreign & domestic travel much easier. I can apply for TSA precheck, making airport security like it was 20 years ago. Faster through airports, less hassle. This applies to most US airports.

International arrivals also become much easier for me. L-1 visa holders need to go through the traditional booth + CBP officer process. Green Card holders can go through the Automated Passport Control kiosks, which move faster. Even better, I can apply for Global Entry, for much, much faster processing.

On bad days international arrivals at US airports can take hours, so this makes a big difference. I don’t need to carry my original visa paperwork either, just my green card and passport.

And as above, we no longer have time limits on how long we can stay here, and I have full job portability. I can change jobs, or I can take some time off between jobs.

Where to from here?

We’re planning on staying in the Seattle area for the next few years. Will we live here forever? Probably not, but never say never.

Will I keep working for Extreme Networks? Short term, yes. Medium-term? Who knows? The technology industry changes too much to make fixed plans.

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