Let’s say you’re already working and living legally in the U.S., and just waiting for a decision on your green card or adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. But you’re also wondering if you could switch employers. Technically, yes. But once you’ve filed for a green card, you could potentially jeopardize your pending application if you fail to follow certain rules before switching employers.
A green card based on employment in the U.S. is essentially based on the concept that you’ve been offered a job in the U.S. as a foreign worker. Your employer is offering you a “permanent working” position that would start once the USCIS has granted you a green card. Similarly, you agree to accept the working position when you get your green card. This means that you’re expected to work for your employer/green card sponsor for a reasonable amount of time following the approval of your green card.
If you fail to hold up your end of the deal, you could run into problems later on, especially if you try to naturalize to United States citizenship from a work visa in Utah County, for instance. The key issue here is that if the USCIS learns that you no longer work for your employer/green card sponsor, it would conclude that you’re working in the U.S. without proper authorization, meaning that you’ll be deemed an illegal worker. Informing the USCIS of your plans of switching employers won’t help you bypass this essential eligibility rule.
Unless you could be exempted, meaning that you fit an exception under the AC21 or American Competitiveness of the Twenty First Century Act portability rules, the USCIS might deny you a green card. If the USCIS doesn’t approve your green card because you’re not eligible for the portability rules or you changed jobs without the necessary authorization, you might also be denied the opportunity to apply for any nonimmigrant or immigrant visas in the future. To that end, get expert advice from an immigration lawyer if you’re thinking of changing employers to determine the ideal recourse for your specific case.