Phd and green card application timing
So to answer your question, you can apply before obtaining a Phd. We know of petitions filed by students on F1. So there is no hard and fast rule as to when you can apply. The best time is whenever you think that you have a strong proof to support an EB1A or EB2-NIW case. USCIS has a set of criteria for permanent residency petition in each of these employment based application categories. You can find these criteria else where on the website. The example petitions in the self-help packets are designed to walk you through the process of building a strong case.
I hope this is helpful.
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