Many international students come down to the USA to get the benefit of the innovative and modern education system. They look forward to working in the United States so that they enhance their career and living opportunities. Too many people, the transition from OPT to green card is a wait that they are ready to bear. Trust us, the wait itself can break you if you don’t know the timeline and the processes involved. This article is all about understanding how can you apply for a green card while being in F-1 Visa status. This is all about how you can transit from OPT to green card without H1B.
With OPT provision in F-1 Visa, many students have taken up working in the USA for the experience. With a hope to stay here longer, they look forward to getting a work visa so that they can work longer and possibly become a permanent resident in the USA.
What is an F-1 visa?
The F-1 visa is a sort of non-immigrant visa that permits students from anywhere in the world. People who are qualified to head out to the US to seek after degree programs at universities or colleges. These universities must have been affirmed to take part in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program or SEVP. International students who have been offered admission to a SEVP-affirmed school might be conceded F-1 visas. To get an F-1 visa, international students should exhibit their plan to get back to their nation of origin after they complete their tenure of study in the US. This implies that getting an F-1 visa won’t permit you to stay in the country for ever. On the off chance that F-1 visa candidates can’t demonstrate to the visa officers that they plan to get back to their home nation, their visa applications will be denied.
An F-1 visa isn’t a road to straightforwardly move to the US. Numerous F-1 visa holders experience changes in their lives while they are studying that make them need to become legal inhabitants. In light of the idea of F-1 visas, turning into a legal status holder i.e. permanent residency in US will expect concerned individuals to change their situations with an alternate sort of visa. When an individual is on OPT program, they have a couple of ways that they could possibly tie down a change of status to an alternate visa status that will permit them to stay longer and maybe permanent.
What is OPT?
OPT is a work status, which helps students to work for employers providing OPT employment. This can be paid or unpaid. This can be a job, internship, or part-time work. The main point to keep in mind about OPT is it can only be used to work and gain experience in the area of study that the individual is concerned with.
There are two types of OPT on the basis of whether you take up the job before or after your graduation.
1. Pre-completion OPT
The OPT work that is taken up during the graduation period is called Pre-completion OPT. You can either take up a part-time OPT job to surf through the semester or take a full-time job during the semester breaks or holidays. If you are working full time, then the time available for post-completion OPT will be after deducting the time period of full-time Pre-completion OPT from 12 months.
2. Post-completion OPT
The OPT work that is taken up after the graduation period is called Post-completion OPT. For students from a background of subjects that are a part of STEM subjects, individuals get an extra 24-month extension beyond the 12 month period.
What is a Green Card?
A green card is a document provided by the federal government of the USA, to allow foreign nationals to be permanent residents of the States. Hence, it is also called Permanent Resident Card. With this card in hand, an individual is provided with the status to live and work, alongside maintaining the duties of a person enjoying the rights almost similar to a US citizen.
How to Initiate the Transfer from OPT to Green Card?
For you to file a request for a green card, especially when you are on F-1 visa status, you must put in fast action and apply as early as possible. The wait can be long as some countries like India and China has more GC applicants than there are spots allotted. So there is a long backlog of applicants looking toward EB visa.
Even though the US legislature has moved the house to pass Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act back in July 2019, Senate never took action for it to be brought into execution. Had it been passed, the limit would be removed that has been imposed on countries that have backlogs. This would have caused a spike in the number of people receiving green cards. But as of date, the law has not yet been signed and brought to life. If your home country is a country that has a cap, it might mean that you will face a long wait. This might mean that the process could take much longer than your OPT status might last.
The key factor is your employer acts so that you can obtain your PR status before your OPT expires. So you need to have a good professional and skilled background and employer support.
Steps to Apply for an Employment-Based Green Card
For EB Green card, most of the filings and petitioning are filed on your behalf by your employer. Let us look into the steps for filing the EB green card.
- Your employer files for your PERM certification. This is done to prove that the employer is not giving away jobs from US citizens to foreign nationals.
- After PERM certification, comes the filing of I-140(Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). This is basically to see whether you as a green card applicant meets the job requirement. It is also for the employers to prove that they can pay you the wages corresponding to the job position.
- Finally, you are to file for Form I-485(Adjustment of Status). This form is used to adjust an applicant’s status. This allows a transition from F-1 OPT status. After submission the applicant receives a visa number and a priority date. As long as this priority date is within the OPT period then the applicant can wait for the process in the hopes of getting a GC. And can transition legally from OPT to green card status.
To transit from OPT to Green Card is not easy. This is truer in case your native country is mentioned to have backlogs. If your end goal is to maintain a GC status in the USA, then you must start working on it. In addition to maintaining your visa status and application, you must engage with work experiences and build your resume. Maintaining a good work experience, clean status, and having an employer who is interested in hiring you permanently. This will help and motivate your employer to retain you in the long term and help you go a good way in acquiring a green card.
Getting an employer who is ready to file a green card would be the most suitable way to apply. Other options are marrying a US citizen, getting asylum, or through a direct family member in the USA, etc. You can find all the options to apply for GC here.