This article will help you to plan and strategize to maximize your ability to get a Green Card employer sponsorship before you graduate. Your chances of getting the Green Card sponsorship are higher if you begin planning in your first or second year of college. If you only have one to two years until you graduate, then you must be extremely qualified or develop a strategy for getting the Green Card, after getting a temporary work visa such as an H-1B, O Visa, or L Visa.
Green Card through Employment
As an international student, you don’t want to find yourself in the position where it is almost time to graduate and you have not found an employer to file a Green Card Visa petition for you.
An EB-2 or EB-3 visa petition process can take about two years to process, after you have found an employer to agree to petition for you. It 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. The whole point of the EB-2 or EB-2 visa is that the employer is telling the government that they could not find a qualified U.S. employee for a job posting and that is why they want to sponsor you and the government should give you a Green Card. Therefore, this is a visa that not too many companies are willing to sponsor an F-1 student for right away because it involves a lot of costs, time waiting before the visa is approved and the student can start working, and commitment on the employer’s part, unless the F-1 student is very qualified.
Plan and Strategize
- If you are a college student, in either your first or second year:
- research the requirements of each employment visa, including the fees, and type of evidence you will need to submit.
- Research the type of degrees that are most in demand in the U.S. and where there are not many qualified U.S. workers, and pursue that degree, if you are interested in that field.
- Start looking for an employer to sponsor you at least two years before you need the visa so there is enough time to find an employer, start the process, and reduce the amount of time needed to process the visa.
- Take courses in specialized topics to make your qualifications stand out, in addition to all the requirements for your Bachelor’s Degree.
- Remember, the objective is to find an employer to sponsor you for the Green Card by the time you graduate, rather than to already have the visa by the time you graduate.
- It is very rare to already have the visa by the time you graduate so anticipate the waiting period after you graduate and plan to extend your visa, or understand you will have to temporarily return to your home country while you wait for the Green Card visa application to be processed.
- Make sure you do not violate the terms of your F-1 visa by working without authorization because that may jeopardize your eligibility for the EB-1 or EB-2 Visa.
If you are a college student in your third or fourth year, or on a Master’s Degree program, it will be more difficult to find an employer to sponsor you directly, without first sponsoring you for a temporary work visa. This does not mean it is impossible, but you will have to be highly qualified.