Can F-1 visa holders get a Green Card?
Posted on July 20, 2021
The non-immigrant visas, known as temporary visas, are referred to as “non-immigrant intent.” while applying to Green Card, it reveals immigrant intent. But there are some circumstances where such filings are acceptable. It is necessary to know the laws applicable to this.
Different ways to apply Green Card for F 1 holders
There are four different ways through which F-1 visa holders can get Green Card. The F-1 visa holders will have a valid visa until a particular period. After completing the course, the students can no longer stay in the U.S. During the visa process, the students need to prove that they will go back to their motherland after completing their education.
Many students, after completion of their course, tend to go from F-1 to Green Card. While the US will never explicitly forbid F-1 holders to get Green Card, the process is tricky. Let us know the different ways to get Green Card for F-1 visa holders.
- EB-1 Visa
EB – 1 visa (Extraordinary Abilities Green Card) is for students with extraordinary abilities compared to the applicant for a Green Card. Some of the students with F-1 visas who have achieved a lot will be eligible for this EB-1 Visa.
Eligibility for EB-1 Visa
The EB-1 Visa is issued to the people, who are:
- professors or researchers with outstanding performance
- people with extraordinary skills in arts, science, business, athletics, or education
- executive managers who worked for a U.S. company for three years in the foreign branch
- achievements like Oscar, Pulitzer, or an Olympic Medal prize
- received a national or international award for their excellence and achievements
- member of a society or association in their field of expertise
- researchers or professors who have published their papers in the journals or media and recognized in their field
- who is authorized to evaluate other people’s work (either as an individual or in a group, etc. )
Eligibility for international students with F1 visa
International students with F-1 visas have two options:
i) Find a job in their area of expertise
If you wish to find a job, your employer must sponsor you by paying the petition and following the labor and visa rules.
In this process, you have to do the whole process yourself, starting from the application process and the payment. But there is no guarantee that you will receive the EB-1 visa if you apply for Self-petition.
Very few of them can meet the requirements; getting an EB-1 Visa is difficult for every F1 visa holder. The person with EB-1 Visa can work in the U.S. permanently in their field.
- Adjusting the status from F-1 to a Dual Intent Visa
As EB-1 visa is issued only to limited people, the other way is to adjust their status from F-1 to Dual Intent.
What is Dual Intent Visa?
A Dual Intent Visa is similar to a non-immigrant visa (such as an H-1B visa), which permits one to apply for a Green Card. The adjustment from F-1 Visa to Dual Intent visa is possible after the completion of a specific period.
Generally, F-1 students are allowed to work for 12 months in the U.S. while pursuing the course or after completing their education or the course for which they have applied. They are allowed to work through CPT and OPT programs:
i) CPT (Curriculum Practical Training) Program
In this, the F-1 student can find a job in the educational institution they are pursuing. They can opt to complete their training by working as a Teacher, as a Research Assistant to their Professors, etc.
Students can apply to CPT program after the completion of 9 months of their course. The CPT program can continue for 12 months, which would convince the institution to sponsor the student. If the student fulfills the criteria, then they can stay as Associate Professor in the same institution.
ii) OPT (Optional Practical Training) Program
In OPT program, students are allowed to work for 12 months only after getting their degree. During this period, the student can get a job from a U.S. employer in the related field and work for 12 months to gain experience. Later, after completing their work duration, i.e., 12 months, they need to return to their home country.
But if you prove yourself as the best during the OPT program, you can get a chance to change your visa status from F-1 to Dual Intent Visa as the employer will sponsor you to get the H-1B visa. The employer pays the petition for you and gets the approval from the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The student cannot apply for a self-petition visa, and only the employer can sponsor.
After adjusting the status from an F-1 visa to Dual Intent Visa, the student can apply for a Green Card. Dual Intent Visa is an indirect path that takes a long duration, but most students prefer this as it is a bit easier than the EB-1 visa.
- EB-5 Visa
If you are pretty rich, then you have a route to get a Green Card as an investor. In this, you need to invest $500K to $1M in the U.S. economy (i.e., in any U.S. commercial enterprise) and should be able to create more than ten permanent jobs, and then you will get EB-5 Visa.
In one way, the EB-5 visa is a Green Card for wealthy individuals. But you need to fulfill specific criteria to get an EB-5 visa. There are four types of EB-5 Visa:
i) C-5 visa: Investors who create jobs beyond the target areas
ii) T-5 visa: Investors who create jobs in rural or unemployed areas
iii) R-5 visa: Investors who invest in Pilot Program but not in the target area
iv) I-5 visa: Investors who invest in Pilot Program in the targeted area
Comparatively, the EB-1 visa procedure is complex because of its requirements, while coming to the EB-5 visa is the most difficult one, as you need to pay huge sums. If you are wealthy enough, you can apply for it, and it is one of the better ways to get a Green Card for F-1 Visa holders.
- Marrying a U.S. citizen
The final option to get a Green card for F-1 visa holders is marrying a U.S. person. This path will adjust your visa status from F-1 to IR-1. IR-1 is a spouse visa, which is only for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens.
Never give a thought, thinking that this would be an easy way to get a Green Card. Because USCIS follows a stringent background verification process to ensure that the relationship is legitimate and not for getting a Green Card.
To ensure all these, the USCIS issues a conditional status called CR-1 if a foreign person marries a U.S. citizen. The CR-1 visa is valid for two years. If the couple gets divorced within these two years, then the foreign spouse must return to their home country as they lose their CR-1 status.
If the couple stays married for this period, then the visa status changes from conditional to permanent. So, from this permanent one, the foreign spouses can get a Green Card. An international student can follow this path if they have a genuine relationship with the U.S. citizen to get the Green Card.
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