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Applying for Green Card while on H4

Published Feb 23,2012 By GCforPhD


First let me appreciate your efforts through your website. They were really helpful information. I am interested in filing GC in NIW category. I appreciate if you could help me resolve the following specific questions I have,

Q1: I have a PhD in Physics from an US university. I was a postdoc and with H1B until March 2011 and then had to quit my job and move  to a different state. To keep my legal status I had to change to H4. So now I am on H4. If I file for GC now in the NIW category, will this affect me if I wish to renew my H4 visa abroad?


Self-petition GC application process has two parts I-140 and I-485. If you apply for I-485, you are also eligible to apply for an EAD and advanced parole. Your H4 status or renewal is not affected unless you or a derivative applicant (spouse) starts to use either an EAD or advanced parole. If EAD or AP derived from I-485 application are used then your status is “pending adjustment of status”. In this status, you can work using EAD and travel abroad using AP and do not need a H4.

Q2: I have seen a similar situation for F1 visa but don’t know if I should be concerned in the case of H4.


Renewing F1 when I-485 is pending is not advisable since F1 applicant has non-immigrating intent while I-485 shows intent to immigrate. With H1 or H4 a problem similar to F1 does not arise.

Q3: Does applying for GC in NIW make an automatic restriction to have a job only in academic or research during its processing time?


No. In general USCIS expects that you work in an area mentioned in your work plan  that is attached with i-140 petition. If the work plan can be written in very general terms, mentioning your intended area of work, without restricting it to a very narrow field then you have flexibility in changing jobs.

Q4: Do all the recommendation letters have to be hard letters? Or an email would be sufficient?


It is desirable to have hard letters. If you are hard pressed for time you can get pdf copies emailed to you and use them instead. Some applicants have done this without a problem. However, original signed copies are always better.

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12 years ago


I have a phd in biochemistry from india and currently I am on h4 visa with no job. My husband work for software firm. Am I eligible to apply for GC in NIW category? Plz let me know.
Thanks in advance.

11 years ago
Reply to  Deepika


Most Phds have significant work that can be used as evidence towards either EB1A or NIW self-petitions. If you would like to file for EB2-NIW, you would need to satisfy the requirements mentioned the this uscis website. You would also need to show that your work is in the national interest. Please see the uscis criteria for the two categories and also some example petitions.

Best of luck
GC for Phd team

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