Updated: Feb 5, 2022
Legal immigration should be straightforward for students or postdocs in 2022.
Here are 6 ways to become a permanent resident (PR) in the United States to enhance your concentration on scholarly work.
Some of them are self-sponsored: that is, no employer or marriage is needed.
The most-common path to PR in the United States. It is straightforward.
A citizen sponsors you- as a spouse, or as their child, or sibling.
A lawful permanent resident (aka green card holder) can sponsor you as a spouse.
2. Employment-based immigration
Find an employer to sponsor your PR. Typically, you'd have to begin work with an H-1b work visa or O-1 visa with the employer before transitioning to PR status.
For this to happen, employers must prove that no US worker is available to fill the position.
This lengthy and costly process is called PERM labor certification. Certain big companies do not mind sponsoring H1bs, but H1b applications substantially exceed the maximum number that the government allows per year. Hence, it is administered in a lottery system (except for academia). So you may find a willing employer and still end up missing out in the lottery.
Here is a site that tracks the biggest H-1b employers in the United States. You may search your favorite company and see if they sponsor H-1bs and the approved numbers for each company per year.
3. File PR under the EB-1 category.
Technically, this is still under the employer-based path to PR with a little distinction. The EB-1 is reserved for persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, (EB-1A), or outstanding professors and researchers (EB-1B)
EB-1A (aka Einstein's visa) is self-sponsored; no employer or job offer is needed.
EB-1B needs a job offer or an employer to sponsor you.
Qualification under both categories gives you and your family access to green cards straight away!
As a Non-STEM student in the U.S, our Partner- Dr. Muzata, self-sponsored herself for PR under the EB-1A category and got it before her Ph.D. graduation.
She developed a comprehensive resource that teaches us HOW TO BUILD EVIDENCE for self-sponsored green cards (EB1A or NIW) as a non-STEM student/Postdoc, with all document prep.
You can check it out here: https://bit.ly/3F1AVwh
4. File for PR under the EB-2 category
This is reserved for persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, and business, and/or professionals with an advanced degree.
Typically, a job offer and the PERM labor certification are required like #2 above, however, you can request a waiver of this process through the National Interest Waiver (NIW) application.
Hence, permanent residency through the EB2-NIW is self-sponsored- no job offer or employer sponsorship is needed (just like the EB-1A category above).
But you've got to PLAN for it! It is tough to qualify if you haven't done all you need to do for this PR path as a student.
Our Partner, Dr. Ojo got the EB2-NIW as an F-1 student.
He developed a comprehensive resource to teach how to strategize for this PR path as a STEM student/Postdoc, with all the docs/templates needed.
To get a head start, begin here: https://bit.ly/3F798KR
5. Become a Refugee or an Asylee
A refugee is granted refugee status while still outside the United States; an asylum seeker is granted asylee status after entering the country or while seeking admission at a port of entry.
PR status after 1 year. Good luck with the evidence needed.🙄
6. The Diversity Visa Lottery
With only 50,000 visas available and an average of 15 million applicants each year, the chance of winning this lottery is well below 1%.
These are some of the realistic ways of becoming a permanent resident as a student to continue your development peacefully in the United States.
Check out our website here for all resources on grad school and building evidence for the self-sponsored green cards in the USA. Everyone who uses our resources qualifies for discounted NIW representation from our partner firms. Find more details here. We are also on all social media platforms, follow Bestman Academy on all platforms.
Feel free to DYOR and consult your attorney if you already have one.