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Getting Green Card through Employment

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018

If you are an international student who has graduated and wishes to immigrate to the United States through employment, you would have several options.  You may secure an immigrant visa as a Professional (EB-3A) or an Advanced Degree Professional (EB-2A), on the basis of the degree(s) you have earned.  Further, if qualified (though rare for a recent graduate), you may secure an immigrant visa as a person of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A), as an Outstanding Professor or Researcher (EB-1B), as a person of Exceptional Ability (EB-2B), or via National Interest Waiver (EB-2C).

All of these visa categories, in one form or the other, require you to have a prospective employer and a job offer. As shown in the table below, most of these visa categories require the employer to seek labor certification from the United States Department of Labor and file a petition with the USCIS. Some visa categories allow you to petition the USCIS yourself.

Preference Visa Code Description Comments
1st EB-1A People of Extraordinary Ability No Labor Certificate Needed
EB-1B Outstanding Professors & Researchers No Labor Certificate Needed
Employer Must Petition
2nd EB-2A Advanced Degree Professionals Labor Certificate Required
Employer Must Petition
EB-2B People of Exceptional Ability Labor Certificate Required
Employer Must Petition
EB-2C or
National Interest Waiver No Labor Certificate Needed
Self-Petition or
Employer May Petition
3rd EB-3A Professionals Labor Certificate Required
Employer Must Petition

You can also stay in the United States as a nonimmigrant, on temporary work visa for professionals (H-1B), if you are qualified to work in a specialty occupation.  In short, if you have received a degree in the United States, you can potentially stay and work here for up to seven (7) years, i.e., one (1) year of optional practical training plus six (6) years under the H-1B visa.  If you have graduated with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics ( STEM majors) from a SEVP-certified school, you would be able to extend your optional practical training with an additional 24 months, under the STEM OPT Extension.  That will allow you to potentially stay and work in the United States for nine (9) years post-graduation.  Of course, H-1B visas are limited and subject to lottery selection.  However, if you have received a master's or doctoral degree from a U.S. university, you would have a substantially higher chance of obtaining an H-1B visa.  See H-1B Visa Allocation.  During these periods, you may be able to find a permanent position meeting your expectations and to secure an employment-based immigrant visa (green card).

Related Topics:

Marriage-Based Immigration

Work-Based Immigration

Investment-Based Immigration

H-1B Temporary Work Visas


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