August 4, 2008: AC-21 Change of Employer, Similar Occupation Issue

AC-21 Change of Employer, Similar Occupation Issue

I am currently in the “Adjustment of Status” phase of the Green Card process and would like to know if I can switch jobs at this time and maintain my status on the Green Card process. I am getting sponsored by my employer. I believe that I can switch to “similar occupations” but I would like to make a career switch. Is this possible? How tight are the “similar occupations” parameters? My priority date is of early 2007, and my I-140 has been filed and approved already.
— Anonymous

The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (“AC-21”), passed in October, 2000, permits persons who are EB-1, EB-2 or EB-3 beneficiaries to change employers if the adjustment of status application has been pending more than 180 days, and if the new job is in the “same or similar occupational classification as the job for which the petition was filed”. The parameters for determining “similar occupations” have not been generously construed by USCIS.

I would suggest that you look up the job for which the petition was filed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, or similar Department of Labor resource guide, and compare that job’s “classification” to the new job. If they are not in the same classification, the case will likely be denied. The best information I can provide you is to stay as close to the same job title and job duties as was on the petition originally filed. I urge you to consult with competent legal counsel before trying to “port” under AC-21, since it can be very tricky to do. This is not the time to make a career change!

Good luck.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Lawyers