Blog for Postdocs / Phds, National Interest Waiver, Extraordinary Ability

Disclaimer: The contents in this web site are only for your information and are not intended to be legal advice. While many of our applicants successfully obtain their I-140 approvals, the information here should not be considered as a guarantee of your green card application outcome.

Applying for green card while a PhD student


I am a first year PhD student in School of Information, University of Texas at Austin. 
I would like to apply for Green Card on EB2-NIW category. I do not know which category is suitable for me. However I would prefer NIW category. Is it the right time for applying for green card. Please let me know your feedback ASAP by reviewing my resume attached here.

BTW currently I am in F-1 Visa status in USA, so please also let me know if my application get denied, how would this denial affect my F-1 status? Can I continue my PhD in USA after the denial of my application? And what is the usual length to get final notification of my application. 

Besides, I need some questions to be answered before I can proceed. Below are my questions:

1. If my I-140 get denied, will affect my benefit of F-1 visa, like apply for OPT or F-1 visa extension. I mean denial of i-140 will also cause denial/in-eligible for OPT, STEM extension or F-1 extension?  Can I go to my country and re-enter USA on F-1 after i-140 denial? I have heard that many US universities does not apply for OPT if my i-140 get denied, is that correct? 

2. If my i-140 get approved, then can I apply for I-485 immediately while I am in F-1 visa? It is said that I have to be on dual-intent visa (e.g. H1, L1) at first to become eligible for i-485 application. Given that I am in first year PhD student, I will be in F-1 visa for at least 5 years more to get my doctoral degree. So even if my i-140 get approved within six months from now, I cannot apply for i-485 until I am in a dual intent visa which is 5 years at least from now. Can you clarify this issue?

3. I am only at the first year of my PhD, so will it hurt my I-140 petition?
4. I have found in many blogs where lawyers are saying if I get denied on I-140 then according to law I have violated the F-1 status. Because according to F-1 visa regulation, I cannot show intention to settle here at USA, but applying for I-140 petitions means I am showing intention to stay here at USA forever.

5. If my I-140 get denied, can I apply again for I-140 for EB2-NIW or I simply have to go back to my country after my I-20 expiration date?
6. Can apply in parallel for multiple I-140 like one for EB1 another one for EB2-NIW?
7. I have found there is a expedited  processing fees of $1400 for I-140 petition and they provide result within  15 days. Will it hurt the application approval decision? 

8. Can I apply for both I-140 and I-485 in parallel? Is applying in parallel help or expedite the final result? Or I-485 will process after I-140 approval?
9. What are the criteria for getting selected under I-485?
10. Can I apply for EAD and advance parole in parallel with I-485?
11. Does the process of EAD or advance parole get affected by I-485?
12. How many support letters or recommendation letters is needed? Should it have to be independent from someone I do not know personally? Can my PhD supervisor recommend me? Is it necessary that the recommender should be American citizen? 
13. During I-485 I can apply for my spouse? But if I-485 get denied should I have to leave USA immediately? Can I reapply for I-485? 

14. Will it make my I-140 petition stronger if I apply during my third or fourth year of my PhD? 

15. How many number of independent citations and publications are good enough to get approved? 

16. Suppose I file for I-140 and I-485 in parallel, and I-140 get denied then will my I-485 get denied or it will say pending? I mean since I can re-file I-140 again after denial, so what should be status of I-485 in this case?

17. I have analysed my citation counts thoroughly again. Since computer science is vast field and it has many sub-fields and over the last five years I have worked in many different sub-fields and the citation counts break down as below:

Field: Computer Science
Sub-fields ———- Independent Citation Counts
1. Human Computer Interactions – 44
2. peer-to-peer networks – 2
3. Optimization – 1

My current research area (PhD) is Machine Learning and Information Retrieval and my most recent publication in this area get published in April 2016 in WWW 2016 conference.

So my independent recommender will be mostly from the area Human Computer Interaction research area which is not my current research field. So will this situation affect my I-140?

18. I have completed my Master’s in Computer Science and now I am doing PhD in Information Science. Will it reduce my chance of getting approved the I-140? Is information science a substantial intrinsic merit field?

We looked at your CV. With careful preparation, you may be able to do either  EB1a or NIW. In general, EB1A applications are a little harder. We suggest NIW as along as you are clear as to how your work is in the US national interest. 
Regarding the F1 status, it will stay active even if the green card application is denied. However you may find it hard to extend your visa if it is set to expire. As long as you are F1 status is valid for the duration of your PhD you should be able to continue your PhD. As long as your visa is valid, you can travel abroad. If your visa expires, you would not be able to travel abroad. 
1. I – 140 application denial may affect your future F1 extensions and related benefits including visa. We are not sure about that universities position on applying for OPT.
2. You can apply for I 485 even while on an F1 visa. The only problem is once you have applied for I 485, there is a smaller chance of F1 extensions and F1 related visa approvals.
3. If you have the right evidence, it will not hurt your I 140 application.
4. This is correct. I 140 application or I 485 application imply an intent to immigrate. Therefore with these applications their processing, future F1 extensions and approvals become harder.
5. You are correct. You can apply for another I 140 after the first one is denied or you can also apply for multiple I 140s in different categories in parallel.
6. See above
7. this is a very commonly asked question. It won’t hurt your application result as long as the application is detailed and contains all the necessary information required by the USCIS. Generally if they find some information is missing, they will send an RFE, request for evidence.
8. Parallel application of I 140 and 485 is referred to as concurrent filing. Concurrent filing is possible depending on your nationality at the time of birth and and the category. You can see if you are eligible for concurrent filing by looking at the current visa bulletin issued by the department of state. More details about this can be found in our free e-book.
9. I 485 application is straightforward and it involves filling out forms, paying the fees, providing biometric data and immunization records etc. in order to be eligible to apply for I 485, your priority date should be current and your I 140 must be approved. Another approach is to file I 485 concurrently if the priority dates are current.
10. Yes you can
11. Anyone who applies for I 485 can apply for EAD and advanced parole. In most cases these applications are approved without any questions.
12. We generally recommend seven or more. We suggest both independent and collaborators. Your supervisor can provide reference letter. References should be from well-known people in the field, are people using your technology their citizenship is generally not relevant. Please see our blog  and DIY packet for more details. 
13. Yes you can apply for your spouse. I 485 is generally not denied unless there is a strong criminal or illegal situation involved.
14. Whenever you have the right evidence is the best time to apply
15. There is no fixed number. We have seen applicants with very few publications and citations succeed in NIW. It all depends on the particulars of the case and the strength of these publications.
16. Generally I 485 application will be closed after I 140 denial unless there is a second I 140 already pending. Some people apply for I 140 in and IW and the second I 140 in EB1A.
17. this should not affect your application as long as you define what your field of research is. Most people define it in such a way that it is broad enough to include most of your work and narrow enough to claim you to be an expert in the field.
18. Please see 17
we suggest you look at our free e-book which has answers to most commonly asked questions. You can also read questions on our blog and the example petition in our DIY packet.
Best Wishes
Green card for Phd Team
Helping NIW and EB1A applications
with our DIY packages

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