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 studying


I am a 4th year PhD student in Computer Science at a top-ranked university. I was wondering whether I should apply for a Green Card while I am still a student. I have several concerns:

1) If my GC application gets rejected, will that cause problems later on for H1B applications? If it wont affect later H1B applications, do you think I should just take a chance since it doesnt cost a lot for self-petition?

Generally the out come of i-140 decision does not affect H1B negatively.
We suggest applicants to study their background, uscis criteria for the category they are interested in and also look at some example petitions before they decide to apply. For the 140 application, you have to spend a few hundred dollars and your effort in preparation.


2) I have 6+ publications in internationally significant conferences, and I am a reviewer on several important conferences in the field. I do not have any awards yet, nor can I get more than 3-4 references. Will that make my case, or should I try to wait till I have enough collaborators to get the references from?

see answer to 3

3) I have worked in the past on DARPA and NSF projects of national signficance, will that make a stronger case?

Publications, reviewership, work on projects of national significance count towards satisfying uscis criteria. But it is hard to judge based on this information alone. What you really present to the examiner is “a story” that encompasses various criteria and how they are all tied together to the national interest (NIW) or extraordinary ability (EB1A). If all of these are linked and well presented, they can make a very strong case. We suggest you review some example petitions, uscis criteria and build your case from there.


4) If my I-40 is approved while I am still studying, I could apply for the change of status. While the change of status is being processed, will I no longer be an F1 and will I be entitled to additional sources of income (e.g. from a startup that I am planning?). Or can applications also get rejected at the “Change of status” phase?

We are aware of F1 students apply for change of status before. However, there may be issues here we are not aware of. For example we do not know if you can renew your F1 while your i-140 is still in process. However once you apply for change of status (after 140 is approved and your priority date is current), you are eligible for an advance parole (which allows you to travel out side the country) and an ead (which allows you to work for any employer or on your own and get paid). Change of status applications normally do not get rejected. If they get rejected, that would generally be for violating immigration rules (eg. leaving the country without a proper adjustment of status approval, illegal behaviors, involvement in crimes etc) or not satisfying DOS requirements.

Green card for Phd Team
Helping NIW and EB1A applications
with our DIY packages

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