Greenlight your future: A student’s guide to permanent residency in the US

United States of America permanent resident (green card) Photo credit: GettyImages

For all international students studying in the United States on an F1 visa, who wish to live and work in the country after graduation, obtaining a green card may be the next step.

A green card, also known as a permanent resident card, allows non-U.S. citizens to live and work permanently in the United States.

Employment-based green card

One of the most common ways for F1 visa holders to obtain a green card is through employment. For international students who have a job offer from a U.S. employer, your employer may sponsor them for an employment-based green card.

There are several categories of employment-based green cards, and each category has its own set of requirements. Those interested can either apply for an employment-based green card while they are in the U.S. on an F1 visa, or students can return to their home country and apply from there.

Family-based green card

The most common way to obtain a green card is through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. A spouse, parent or child who is a citizen or permanent resident, may be able to sponsor someone for a family-based green card. The process can take longer than an employment-based green card, but it can be a viable option for some F1 visa holders.

Diversity visa lottery

The diversity visa lottery is a program that allows individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. to apply for a green card. Those that are from an eligible country and meet the program’s requirements, can enter the lottery and, if selected, receive a green card. The lottery is held annually, and the application period usually opens in October and closes in November.

Asylum or refugee status

Those who are facing persecution in their home country may be able to apply for asylum or refugee status in the U.S. Asylum and refugee status are granted to individuals who fear persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. They will be granted asylum or refugee status, they can apply for a green card after one year.

Investment-based green card

Those who have a significant amount of money to invest in a U.S. business may be eligible for an investment-based green card. The EB-5 visa program requires a minimum investment of $1.8 million, or $900,000 if the investment is made in a targeted employment area. Those who invest the required amount and meet the program’s other requirements may be able to obtain a green card through this program.

Obtaining a green card as an F1 visa international student requires a lot of planning, research and patience. However, with the right information and support, it is possible to navigate the U.S. immigration system and achieve your goal of living and working in the country permanently.

Consider speaking with the local immigration attorney located at 18 E. Main St. Rexburg, ID 83440. Alternatively, visit the BYU-Idaho International Service on campus to learn more about the options available to you.

For additional resources, check the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.