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

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PhD graduate on OPT status


My name is Atul. I have recently graduated with PhD in civil engineering and on OPT status working as research assistant. My employer said he would file NIW green card in some time. 

I have 3 publications and hoping to finish 1 soon. I worked with my professor to win a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in wind energy.  My work is related to renewable energy (wind energy), and I will work on the project is funded my National Science Foundation. 

My aim is to get green card and I think NIW suits me more as of now.  My doubts are 

1) Is the transition from F1 to NIW possible without any risk? If NIW is denied in its initial stage does it affect my OPT extension status?

2) Academic H1B occurs very fast. So if I go that route is it possible to get NIW with academic H1B?

3) I just raed that J1 to NIW is risky also the F1 to NIW is risky and one should go only if sure. I did not get this.

4) Does I-140 approval in NIW is the indication of green card approval and could one leave the US for some work related travel?




One Response to PhD graduate on OPT status

  • GCforPhD says:

    Dear Atul

    Since you have 3 publications and 8 citations, you would need other strong evidence to support you NIW case, which may possible depending on your other credentials. Please see the NIW page and example petitions.

    Your questions are answered below.

    1) It depends on the situation. If you apply for a GC while on OPT it implies that you have expressed intent to immigrate which is in conflict with F1 visa requirements. This may preclude you from obtaining a F1 renewal if needed. So if you do not anticipate you need for an extension then you are ok. Also if you were born in India or in china there is a long wait time for NIW. So you would not get a GC for quiet sometime. And during this time you may not be able to renew F1.

    2) Applying while on a H1b is generally better compared to applying on an F1. In either cases (OPT or H1B) you would still need to satisfy USCIS criteria. If the criteria is not met then the application can be risky.

    3) NO. I-140 approval is the first stage. After this you would need to apply for I-485, which has a long wait times for Indian and Chinese born applicants. Please see our free ebook (use the ebook link at the top of the page) for more details.

    4) NO. I-140 is not country specific. However number of approvals for I-485 is. Please see the ebook.

    5) Yes. Generally you can leave and come back if you have a valid visa. If you have also applied for a I-485 then it is better to leave with an advanced parole (AP) document. More details in the ebook.

    Best wishes

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