As an undergrad/graduate student, you’ve enjoyed attending college in the United States. You probably love this country so much that you want to stay longer once you’ve finished your studies. Unfortunately, international students are at F1-visa status, meaning they have to return to their home countries after completing school.
Nevertheless, you can become a permanent U.S. resident by applying for a green card. Below are three ways to obtain one.
Join the OPT program
The OPT (Optional Practical Training) program grants international students temporary work in a field associated with their major. If accepted, you can receive up to a year of employment before or after graduation. (STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — majors can receive up to two years of temporary employment.)
Obtain sponsorship through a relative
Do you have a parent or minor child currently living in the U.S.? Provided they have U.S. citizenship, you can gain sponsorship through them.
Get sponsorship via employment
Perhaps you have an uncle, sibling or cousin who owns a business in the same state as your school. They can sponsor you by hiring you as an employee. However, there’s a catch to this arrangement: your relative needs proof that they hired you based on merit, not due to nepotism.
Students who work while attending school are eligible for an EB-2 visa or EB-3 visa. EB-2 visas are for individuals possessing an advanced degree with five or more years of experience in their field. Professional workers with two or more years of work experience can get EB-3 visas. If you fit into either of these categories, you can ask your employer for green card sponsorship as long as they meet specific eligibility guidelines.
Consider getting assistance with the path to permanent residency by seeking experienced legal guidance. There may be more options available than you know.