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I am an American citizen. My girlfriend lives in Canada. I have been going over possibilities of trying to get her a green card legally, and one possibility has me a bit stuck.

A Canadian citizen may come over to the US for up to 6 months. During this time, if they apply for a Green Card, could the process be completed and the individual be granted a Green Card in those 6 months, or would that simply not be enough time?

The other question/option is for her to get an employment-based Green card. Would that be a much more viable option as opposed to coming over here staying and attempting to get one while over here?

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I am assuming you will marry her and petition her to immigrate as a spouse. The process to get a green card in the US is Adjustment of Status. It is not a problem that Adjustment of Status isn't completed within their period of stay, because once someone has Adjustment of Status (I-485) is filed, they can stay in the US for as long as it is pending regardless of whether they have status or not (and in fact cannot leave the US without Advance Parole, or they will abandon their Adjustment of Status).

(In fact, in her category, she doesn't even need to be in status at the time of applying for Adjustment of Status; she could have overstayed for years and still be eligible for Adjustment of Status. In some other categories, she might need to be in status at the time of applying for Adjustment of Status, but it is true in all categories that she doesn't need to maintain status while Adjustment of Status is pending, and going out of status while Adjustment of Status is pending won't affect the Adjustment of Status.)

Employment-based immigration requires being petitioned by a US company that will employ her after she immigrates. This usually requires the company to go through a complicated process, and companies generally don't go through the effort to petition people unless they are already working for the company in the US. Unless she has such an employer, employment-based immigration is not a viable option.

  • If she's in the US and stays 6 months, within the 6 months can she apply for a Green card? Is that form an I-140 form? – Kyukiou Jun 3 '18 at 20:09
  • @Kyukiou: I-140 is the employment-based petition. A family-based petition would be I-130. The petition is not the same as applying for a green card. To get a green card, one must either do Adjustment of Status (I-485) inside the US, or Consular Processing abroad to get an immigrant visa. One cannot do Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing until a visa number is available for the category and priority date. – user102008 Jun 3 '18 at 20:56
  • @Kyukiou: For the Immediate Relative category (spouse, parent, or unmarried under-21 child of a US citizen), visa numbers are always available, so I-130 can be filed with I-485. For other family-based categories, visa numbers are not immediately available currently. For employment-based categories, visa numbers are currently immediately available for EB1, EB2, and EB3 as long as she wasn't born in Mainland China, India, or the Philippines. – user102008 Jun 3 '18 at 20:57
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    Do you realize that adjustment of status for her would be >$1000? – mkennedy Jun 3 '18 at 22:15
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    @Kyukiou "is there something else I am overlooking?": She cannot apply for adjustment of status without a petition. If you do not marry her, you cannot petition for her. Assuming she has no family in the US who can petition for her, she would need to find an employer willing to petition for her, which is far easier said than done. What kinds of jobs is she qualified for? – phoog Jun 4 '18 at 0:21

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