How To Get PR In USA After Study
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Dr Mohammad Shafiq

How To Get PR In USA After Study? 2024

How To Get PR In USA After Study? 2024

Getting a permanent residency is a goal most international students aspire to after completing their higher studies in the USA. Why not? A PR allows one to live and work in the United States indefinitely, the right to travel freely in other countries, and a gateway to US citizenship in five years. International students have several pathways to PR after study, including family-based, employment-based, and DV Lottery visas. In this guide, we will explore how to get PR in the USA after study.

Understanding The Options For PR After Study

You might wonder how to get a green card in USA for students. There are several options and pathways. Let’s explore them.

Employment-Based Immigration

The United States has several employment-based visa categories that allow international students to live and work indefinitely. You will need specific skills, education, and a valid job offer from a US employer to get an employment-based visa.

The eligibility criteria for different employment-based visas are as follows:

  • Required level of education and experience.
  • Job offer from a US employer.
  • A good command of English.
  • Passing medical examination.

You will need a valid passport with a visa, academic transcripts, work experience evidence, English proficiency proof, and a medical examination report to apply for this visa. An employment-based PR application is a complex process. Your US employer must apply to the USCIS on your behalf. Once you get an employment-based visa, you can eventually apply for a green card.

Family-Based Immigration                                                                     

Family-based immigration is another way an international student can obtain PR after completing higher study in the US. This option is only available to students with an immediate family member who is a US citizen or PR holder.

Requirements for this type of visa depend on visa categories. However, here are some USA green card requirements:

  • Having a US citizen or permanent resident family member.
  • Fulfilling age and other requirements
  • Passing a medical examination

To apply for a family-based visa in the US, you will need a valid passport with a visa, your birth and marriage certificate, proof of your relationship with the US citizen or PR, and a medical examination report. Your family member will have to file a petition with the USCIS on your behalf to obtain a family-based visa.

Diversity Visa Lottery Program

The Diversity Visa Lottery is a random visa selection process that allows people to get Permanent Residency from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. Under this policy, only a limited number of visas are available yearly.

Here are the eligibility criteria for the DV Lottery program:

  • Belong to a country that is eligible for the DV lottery.
  • Ability to read, write, and speak basic English.
  • High school diploma or equivalent.

Applying for a DV lottery is a simple process. You have to apply for it online or by mail. Once selected in the DV lottery, you will be invited to apply for green card.

Employment-Based PR Options

Employment-Based PR Options

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT or Optional Practical Training is a visa program that allows international students from a US university to work in the United States for up to 12 months after graduation.

After the OPT period, they will have several options for working and staying in the US, such as working with an H-1B visa, taking up a job, or starting a business and applying for PR.

H-1B Visa

It’s a temporary work visa for highly skilled immigrants to work in the United States. International students can apply for this visa after completing their higher studies in the US. Here are the green card requirements post-study work visa in USA:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a US university or equivalent in a specialty occupation.
  • A valid job offer from a US employer willing to sponsor your visa.
  • Pass a medical examination.

To sponsor this visa, the US employer must file a labor certificate on behalf of the international student with the US Department of Labor. The DOL will review the application and see whether any US worker is there to fill the position. If not, the employer can file an H-1B visa petition with the USCIS for the international student.

After getting an H-1B visa, the international student can live and work in the US. If the US employer is willing to sponsor a green card, the visa holder can apply for a PR in the US through the employment-based visa categories.

Also Read:

Employer Sponsorship (EB) Categories

The employment sponsorship visa categories are divided into 5 preference categories:

  • EB-1: This visa category applies to individuals with extraordinary abilities, such as professors, researchers, managers, or executives of multinational companies, entrepreneurs, or athletes.
  • EB-2: This visa category applies to individuals with advanced degrees or professionals with exceptional ability in specialized fields.
  • EB-3: This visa category applies to skilled professionals, workers, and other types of workers who do not belong to the above groups.
  • EB-4: This visa category applies to special immigrants, such as religious workers, journalists, medical professionals, etc.
  • EB-5: This visa category comes under the Immigrant Investor Program. It applies to individuals who invest a certain amount of money in a US business.

Family-Based PR Options

Family-Based PR Options

Immediate Relatives of US Citizens

Immediate relatives of US citizens do not have to wait in line for a green card. They can apply for permanent residency as soon as their petition is approved. It’s the easiest way to get PR in USA.

  • Spouses: spouses of US citizens will be eligible for permanent residency with a few residency requirements. You must provide the marriage documentation and pass a medical examination.  
  • Children: To be eligible for permanent residency as a child of a US citizen, you must be below 21 years of age and unmarried. You must pass a medical test and provide documentation of your relationship.
  • Parents: You will be eligible for a permanent resident if you are a biological or adoptive parent of a US citizen. You need to be 21 years of age or older.

Family Preference Categories

Family preference categories apply to relatives of US citizens and permanent residents who are not immediate relatives. US immigration policy has four family preference categories:

  • F1: Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens: Must be unmarried, below 21, and pass a medical examination.
  • F2: Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents: must be under 21, unmarried, and pass a medical examination.
  • F3: Married sons and daughters of US citizens: must be married, at least 21 years of age, and pass a medical examination.
  • F4: Brothers and sisters of US citizens: must be at least 21 years of age and pass a medical examination.

Application Process, Waiting Times, and Documentation Required

The application process for a family-based PR varies based on your category. Here are the common steps:

  • You must file a petition with the USCIS through your family member who is a US citizen or permanent resident.
  • Then, if your petition is successful, you will get an immigrant visa.
  • In time, you can apply for a green card.

The waiting period for the application process depends on factors like visa category and your country of origin. Here are the documents you’ll need for the process:

  • Your passport and visa.
  • Birth and marriage certificate.
  • Proof of your relationship with the US citizen.
  • Proof of your family member’s US citizenship.
  • A medical examination report.

Diversity Visa Lottery Program

Diversity Visa Lottery Program

You might want to know how to get a green card in USA without much effort. The answer is DV Lottery. The Diversity Visa lottery is a popular visa program in selected countries with a low US immigration rate. However, you will need to meet a few eligibility criteria, like:

  • A citizen of an eligible country.
  • High school education.
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak Basic English.

To apply for a DV Lottery, all you have to do is apply online or via mail. Generally, the proceedings start in early October and conclude in early November.

The selection process of the DV Lottery is arbitrary. All the applications are entered into a computer system, and the computer randomly selects the winners. If you are selected, you'll get an email or mail. Then you will be invited to apply for a green card.

At this stage, you must create an account on the USCIS website, submit your application, and provide supportive documents. Then you must pass a medical test and finally pay the application fees.

Additional Considerations And Resources

The following resources will help you throughout the process of obtaining a PR in the US:

  • Visa Bulletin and Priority Dates: The US State Department publishes Visa Bulletin every month with a list of priority dates for all types of visas. You can apply for a PR if you have an ongoing priority date.
  • Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing: If you are currently inside the US, you can apply for adjustment of status. But if you are outside the US, you must apply for consular processing.
  • Immigration lawyers and their role in the PR application process: Immigration lawyers will help you throughout the process. They can help you with consultation, document collection, and every other step-by-step process.
  • Government resources and official websites for accurate information: Several government resources and websites will provide accurate information about the PR application process. Make sure to check these websites regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Get PR in USA After Study?

Yes, you can apply for Permanent Residency (PR) in the USA after studying by transitioning from a student visa to a work visa and then applying for a Green Card through employment or other eligibility categories.

What are the common pathways to obtain PR in the USA?

Common pathways include family, employment, and student visas. Employment-based visas, family sponsorship, asylum, the Green Card lottery, and military service are notable options.

Is It Easy to Get PR in USA After Study?

Gaining permanent residency (PR) in the USA after studying can be challenging, involving complex processes like securing a job and navigating visa categories like H-1B, with no direct study-to-PR pathway. Success rates vary by individual circumstances.

What are the five most common ways for an F-1 visa holder to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States?

  1. Self-petition for extraordinary ability.
  2. Employer sponsorship.
  3. Switch to dual-intent visa.
  4. Investment in U.S. business.
  5. Marriage to U.S. citizen/resident.

What is the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program?

OPT allows international students from a US university to work in the United States for up to 12 months post-graduation, with a possible 24-month extension for certain STEM fields. This experience can lead to work visa sponsorship or PR.

How can employment sponsorship lead to PR?

After obtaining a work visa like H-1B, an employer can sponsor the employee for a Green Card under various employment-based visa categories such as EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5.

What is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)?

The EB-2 NIW is for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities, focusing on future positive impacts in the U.S., like job creation or public service.

Are there special considerations for students in high-demand fields?

Yes, fields like IT, engineering, and healthcare often have a high demand for skilled professionals, offering better chances for employment and subsequent PR.

What role does employer sponsorship play in PR?

Employer sponsorship is crucial, as the employer must file applications with relevant authorities and can eventually sponsor the employee's Green Card application.

How important is networking for securing PR?

Networking is vital for finding employment opportunities and securing PR. It involves building professional relationships, attending job fairs, and participating in relevant activities.

What is the significance of university programs for international students?

Universities like UCLA and the University of Texas offer programs that provide career counseling, workshops, and networking events, aiding in securing employment and PR.

What are the requirements for family-based PR options?

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for PR without waiting in line. This is often seen as the easiest way to obtain PR.

How long does the PR application process take?

The processing time for a Green Card application can range from 6 months to 33 months, depending on various factors.

Final Thoughts

PR application in the US is a complex process with many steps, rules, and regulations. Awareness of how to get PR in USA after study bolsters your confidence during the application phase. Permanent residency in the US is a lifetime chance, so do not hesitate to use any available resources. Since it's a long process and can take months, I suggest you start the application process as early as possible.

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