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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 greencard while on OPT

Question:

Hi Team,

I have a question. I think I read a similar question from someone else also. But I had a difference in my degree and certain other things.

I completed my PhD and I am on OPT. I want to know if I can apply for green card while on OPT, or should I go for H1 and then for OPT. Just to let you know my F1 (student visa) already expired. PLs let me know.

Thanks a lot.

Answer:

Just a clarification. OPT is part of F1 status. Your F1 visa stamp may have expired but your F1 status is active since your I-20 would still be current.

Coming back to your main question, you can apply for green card while on F1 but it may not be possible to renew your F1 status (i.e. extend your OPT if needed). This is because F1 is granted on the basis that there is no intent to immigrate. So if you do not need F1/OPT renewal you can choose to apply while on F1.

Hope this answers your question.

Best of luck

Sincerely
Green card for Phd Team
Helping NIW and EB1A applications
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24 Responses to Applying for greencard while on OPT

    • admin says:

      Hi

      We are aware of Phds in mathematics who are successful in obtaining their Green card by self-petitioning. So it is possible. The chances are no different than other fields. Just like others, the applicant needs to show that they satisfy the USCIS criteria for the category they are applying.

      Best of luck
      GC for Phd team

    • admin says:

      Hi

      We are aware of Phds in mathematics who are successful in obtaining their Green card by self-petitioning. So it is possible. The chances are no different than other fields. Just like others, the applicant needs to show that they satisfy the USCIS criteria for the category they are applying.

      Best of luck
      GC for Phd team

  • Alex says:

    Hi GC for Phd team,
    I am now a post-doc on my OPT extension, can I apply EB1a during this time? If EB1a is denied before OPT expires, can I apply H1b to maintain my status?

    • GCforPhD says:

      Hi

      Yes you can apply while on your OPT. But please be aware that you may not be able to extend your OPT during the time EB1a is being processed.

      If your EB1a is denied, you can apply for H1b at any time (even before or after denial).

      Best wishes
      GCforPhD

  • Dino123 says:

    Hi GCforPHD

    I am PhD in Organic Chemistry from US university with three first author publication Impact factor 13, 6.8 , 5.8 two currently under review (one with Nature chemistry IF 23.3) I have total citation of 20 so far. I have two year of postdoc experience in the field of Medicinal Chemistry (1 publication and 1 patent pending from this work) 1 national conference, 2 outstanding poster awards at University symposia. I have started 2nd postdoc in the field medicinal chemistry with strong implication in drug discovery. my OPT extension is ending in Nov 2015. Can I start green card application in EB 1A category? And will it help me to secure my status before my OPT expires? Or should I try in EB 1B category? I will really appreciate what I should to secure my immigration status in US. My current employer (University) is ready to transfer me on J1 after my OPT expires. Is there a way I can work on my GC pitition and avoid J-1 route! I will really appreciate advice on my situation.

    Thank you

    • GCforPhD says:

      Hi

      There is a possibility you can make a a strong case for EB1a. You will not be able to self-petition in EB1B (that is EB1OR), your university will have to do this. If you apply for a EB1A there is a possibility you may be able to get I-140 approved before your OPT expires. Then you can apply for I-485 to get your EAD/advanced parole.

      Also universities can sponsor H1B. This is much safer and easier than the J1 route. If you obtain a J1 before you apply for I-485 then you would need to apply and get a waiver from your home country.

      Best wishes
      GCforPhD

  • Hossein says:

    Hi,

    I just finished my Ph.D. and started working for a company. I am on F1/OPT. I have nine publications in the high impact acceptable journals, around 10 conferences, and 3 patents (the patents are not US patent). My citation is around 10 but it is getting better. I have been invited a few times for giving talks at conferences nationally and internationally. I have received several fellowships and awards since I have been in the US. I am thinking of filing an NIW application, but I am concerned about not being able to extend my OPT due to filing for a green card. I am thinking of asking the company to help me with that but I don’t know what I need to ask them to do for me. I appreciate it you would point me in the right direction.

    Regards,
    Hossein

    • GCforPhD says:

      Hi Hossien

      From your description you should have a good chance in the NIW. Besides satisfying at least 3 statutory USCIS criteria, you would also need to meet the additional NIW requirements (substantial intrinsic merit, national in scope and the significant benefit derived from your participation in the national interest field of endeavor considerably outweighs the inherent national interest in protecting U.S. workers through the labor certification process).

      It is a good idea to see if your company can sponsor you a H1B visa. Most companies do this, since F1/OPT will not last long. Once you have a H1B you would not need to worry about ‘F1 and immigration intent clause’.

      Best wishes
      GCforPhD

  • Birtos says:

    Greetings!
    I’ve completed Master Degree in Nano technology in the US and I’m currently on my OPT/F1. Can I apply for PHD in OPT extention? Can I get an OPT even after the completion of PHD? Because I’ve already got OPT once, will there be a second OPT? What if there is no OPT after PHD?
    Thank you.

  • Hamed says:

    Hi
    I got my master`s degree in US. I am working on (12 months)OPT for a big company, and I will get my OPT extension in coming summer(2018). my question is: if my employer apply for my green card while I am on OPT extension, and for any reason if my green card process will be rejected or take too much time, may I apply for PHD and continue my studies in USA while I`m on OPT extension ?
    Thanks,

    • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

      Hi Hamed,

      Yes, if your application is denied or delayed, you still can continue your studies. Please keep in mind that once you file I-140, you may not be able to obtain F1 extension or apply for J1 because of conflict of intents. So, it makes sense to get all the extensions before filing I-140

  • KunCG says:

    Hi Team,

    I am about to finish my PhD studies and am currently applying to jobs within the US. My OPT application will be approved soon (hopefully). I intend to apply for a green card after my OPT extension about 2 years from now. Is it okay to tell prospective employers that I will not require sponsorship in the future, since I hope to get a green card and not H1B?

    Thanks for your assistance.

    • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

      Hello,

      There is no clear advise one could give you in this situation. Please keep in mind that once you apply for the green card, you may not be able to obtain non-immigrant visas, such as J1, so having an option of obtaining (dual intent) H1B in the future may simplify your life. Also, if you decide to go for EB2-NIW, you may have to wait for the I-140 response for a year or more. If you have some additional details (such as the category of the green card, country of birth an so on), I can give a more concrete answer.

  • KunCG says:

    Hi Tigran,

    Thank you for your prompt reply. The EB2-NIW seems like the best option for me. My country of birth is Nigeria and my PhD is in mechanical engineering. I see your point about the H1B option, but I have noticed that many jobs in my area of expertise prefer not to sponsor work visas, even when it is not explicitly stated in the job requirements.

    • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

      I see. Yes, then it would make sense to apply for EB2-NIW immediately after you graduate and extend the F1, because the NIW takes longer times now. By doing this you have a risk of not being able to obtain J1/F1 in the future, however, if I understand correctly, it’s not an option for you anyway, since you will take the maximum duration of F1-OPT and the extension of your future contract may require H1B or the permanent residency, not J1. Let me know if you have further questions.

  • Sara says:

    As an F1 undergrad in biology. What are the chances of getting a green card with a Dental Assistant license? Also, is it possible to apply for green card while on CPT?

    Thank you,

    • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

      I assume you are asking about the self-petition categories of green cards, since it is the main topic of this forum. It is possible to apply while in CPT, as well as in other circumstances. Please keep in mind that having the license does not make you qualified for the green card. Please familiarize yourself with the requirements for EB1A and EB2-NIW green cards from our website.

  • McMC says:

    Hi. I am from Chile. I am currently a postdoctoral scholar at the US for already one year and I also did my PhD studies here at the US. Actually I am under an F1OPT visa. My first year of OPT ends Sept 19, 2018 and I will renew for 2 more years (from Sept 20, 2018 to Sept 19, 2020). I have 3 questions:
    1) If I want to self-sponsor my GC under the EB1A or EB2 visa status: the recommendation would be to apply after I get the approved extension of my OPT right? Then, I would have two years to complete the process.
    2) Do you think that in 2 years I can get the GC processing done? Is it realistic?
    3) As an F1OPT visa holder, do I need to get a waiver from my home country (Chile) to apply for GC? Or will USCIS contact at all my home country during the GC process under my F1OPT status?

    Thanks and hope you can help me!

    • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

      1) If you apply for the green card before extending F1, you may not be able to extend F1 due to the conflict of intents (immigration vs non-immigration), so it is usually advised to get the F1 extension first.
      2) It is realistic to have GC processing done in this time interval, especially if you opt for the EB1A premium processing (your I-140 petition will be considered within 15 calendar days). The processing time for I-485 is about a year right now. You do not have to have it done before your F1-OPT expires. Once you file I-485 and it is pending, you can stay in the country legally even if F1 expires.
      3) No, you do not need to get a waiver.

      • McMC says:

        Thanks a ton for your answers!
        Regarding question 2; two more questions:
        a) During the period that my I-485 is pending and let’s say I’m still with valid OPT….can I work under the OPT rules (limited only to e-verified institutions) or can I work anywhere (related with my expertise of course), as if I had a green card already?
        b) During the period that my I-485 is pending and let’s say that may OPT expired…. can I work anywhere (related with my expertise of course), as if I had a green card already?

        Thanks again for your help!

        • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

          To answer both of the questions, this depends on whether or not you filed I-765 form, Application for Employment Authorization, together with I-485. If you did, and it got approved, you can work everywhere. If you did not or it is pending, you can still work under terms of the OPT. Normally, I-765 is approved faster than I-485.

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