I found your website today and have a question. My wife has done her Phd from university of Hyderabard, India and is working on her thesis right now. She is on H4 visa right now. She does nt have her Phd degree yet. My question is, should she have to wait until she get the degree? Or can she apply now?
I would like to emphasize that Phd is not a requirement in the USCIS criteria. So you should not think that having a Phd entities to a GC. Similarly you should not think that not having a Phd does not qualify for EB1A or NIW application. In general Phd’s have an advantage that they have a strong background to satisfy the USCIS requirements in the EB1A or EB2-NIW categories which allows them to self-petition for their green card. This does not require a employer sponsorship.
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.
Best of luck
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