Green Card Options for Students through Employment and Family Petitions

As a student, you can become eligible for a Green Card and permanent residency in the U.S. through your employment by having your employer sponsor you for an EB-2 or EB-3 visa, or by having a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder family member (Spouse, Parent, Child) file a family petition for you. 

Green Card through Employment

You must have a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s degree to qualify for the EB-3 Visa or a Master’s Degree or higher education to qualify for an EB-2 Visa. Generally, the route to a Green Card is having an Employer first hire you under an H-1B visa. If the company determines they would like to employ you long-term, they will then sponsor you for a EB-2 or EB-3 visa. An EB-2 or EB-3 visa requires substantial employer involvement, to go through a lengthy recruitment and advertising process called PERM, for the employer to cover a significant part of the costs, provide substantial documents, and the employer must have the ability to pay you the wage the department of labor determines to be the appropriate wage for the position. Therefore, this is a visa that not too many companies are willing to sponsor an F-1 student for right away, unless the F-1 student is very qualified. However, this does not mean that this is not an option. 

Green Card Through Family

If you marry a U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder, they can petition for you to get a Green Card through either consular processing or adjustment of status. Additionally, if your parents become U.S. Citizens, they can petition for you either as a child under 21 years of age, an unmarried child, or married child. Depending on the category you fall into under a parent petition, there are different processing times. If your child is also an U.S. Citizen, they can petition for you if they are 21 years old or older. 

Green Card Through Both Options at the Same Time

There is the unique situation where you may be eligible for a Green Card through either employment or family petition. In such a case, you must learn about the costs and benefits of each option before making an informed decision to pursue one path. Alternatively, you can pursue a Green Card through both options if you have the means and depending on when you start each process, as you can have more than one type of petition pending at the same time. 

PLAN: – what do i need to do

  • Research the requirements of each employment visa and family visa, including the fees, and type of evidence you will need to submit. You can review them on the USCIS website.
  • Employment Visa:
    • Obtain the Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree needed for the position.
    • Become highly qualified and acquire senior level experience or unique qualifications before approaching an employer to sponsor you for a Green Card visa.
    • Start looking for an employer to sponsor you at least years before you need the visa to avoid delays and hiccups.
    • Ask for and start gathering employer letter of recommendations and proof of past employment experience.
  • Family Visa
    • See if your parents or children meet the requirements to sponsor you.
    • You must be married before your spouse can petition for you. 
    • Start saving documents that prove your relationship.
  • Save money in advance to cover any visa related fees.

STRATEGIZE – what decisions do i need to make

  • Employment Visa:
    • If you cannot find an employer willing to sponsor you right away for a Green Card visa, find one that will sponsor you for a temporary work visa. How does this help you? A temporary work visa such as a H1-B, O Visa, or L Visa, requires less commitment and investment from the Employer. It allows the Employer to see how you work, contribute to their company, and make a more informed decision about whether they would like to keep you on. This increases your chances for obtaining Green Card sponsorship from the same employer or another employer due to the experience you will gain while on the temporary work visa.
  • Spouse Petition v. Employment Visa
    • A spouse petition is more straightforward and has a higher chance of getting approved than a Green Card employment visa. You can do it yourself with our services. However, a Green Card employment visa will require the assistance of an attorney, and while the company may pay part of the legal fees, you will have to still pay substantial legal fees. 
  • Time Frames
    • Access how long it will take to get employer sponsorship, the processing times of the visa, and plan for at least 1 to 2 years of a waiting period on a decision on the visa.

BUILD  – putting it together

  • Employment Visa
    • Gather all your education diplomas, certificates, and licenses, and have them evaluated for degree and experience equivalency.
    • Translate any foreign documents, and make sure translations are accurate and certified or notarized.
  • Family Visas
    • Make sure to have your birth certificate and the unabridged one if your country has two different forms of birth certificates.
    • Obtain all divorce certificates and have your marriage certificate.
    • Obtain 2-3 affidavits from family and friends to prove the relationship and make sure they are all notarized.
    • Translate all foreign documents, and make sure translations are accurate and certified or notarized.

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