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Students with F-1 visa status have opportunities that can put them on a path to permanent residence

Posted on April 8, 2014
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Q: My brother is here on an F-1 student visa. How can he become a permanent resident?
Cynthia, Queens 
A: Our immigration laws don’t provide a special green card program for students. Still, immigration laws provide F-1 students opportunities that help them on the path to permanent residence. They qualify for one year’s Optional Practical Training employment authorization for every degree they earn. Students with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree in a STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) qualify for an additional 17 months employment.

While working with OPT, students can ask an employer to sponsor them for H-1B temporary professional employment status. H-1B status is available for at least six years, sometimes more. While in H-1B status, the student often gains the necessary experience to qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa.

Q: My U.S. citizen wife petitioned for me and USCIS granted me conditional permanent residence and a two-year green card. That card will expire in July 2013. Now she is filing for divorce. Can I get my permanent card without her help?
Name Withheld, Queens
A: If you have proof that your marriage is bona fide, you can get your permanent card (valid for 10 years and renewable), without your wife’s help. Getting divorced from your wife may help.

You received a two-year conditional permanent resident card because you became a permanent resident within two years of your marriage. You can apply to remove the condition without your wife’s help if 1) you entered the marriage in good faith and the marriage was bona fide or “real” and it was terminated by divorce or annulment, or 2) you are the victim of spousal abuse or your child has suffered abuse from your wife or, 3) that leaving the United States would result in your suffering extreme hardship. You can self-petition to remove the condition also if your spouse has died. The easiest path to the permanent card may be proving that you are divorced and that you entered the marriage in good faith. You may benefit from help from an immigration law expert.

Note that when a conditional permanent resident applies to self-petition to remove the condition based on a good faith marriage, the USCIS will want to see a divorce or annulment decree before approving the petition.
If your divorce becomes final before your two-year card expires, you can file form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence immediately.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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