For an F-1 holder who wishes to obtain an immigrant status in the U.S., there are a few opportunities to do so, which are detailed below:
Family Based Immigration
One of the routes to become a U.S. Permanent Resident is through family-based immigration. Family-based immigration allows the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to immigrate to the United States without being subject to wait times or numerical restrictions. Immediate relatives are considered to be a U.S. citizen’s parents, unmarried minor children, and spouses. If the alien student has a close relative who is a U.S. citizen, the relative may file an immigration petition for the alien student as the beneficiary and the student may apply for an adjustment of status. For more information about family-based immigration, please click here.
Employment Based Immigration
Often, an alien student in F-1 status can also attain immigrant status on the basis of his prospective work through the following ways:
1. Labor Certification:
An F-1 holder may attain immigrant status through employment-based immigration. Generally, he/she may find an employer who is willing to file a Labor Certification Application for him/her with the Department of Labor. However, in filing the Labor Certification Application, the F-1 holder expresses his immigrant intent. This may pose a problem for the F-1 holder to extend his stay in the United States in F-1 status or to get a new F-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad. After the labor certification is approved by the DOL, the sponsoring employer may apply for an immigration petition. After the immigrant visa number becomes available, the beneficiary may apply for an adjustment of status. For more information on obtaining a Labor Certificate, please click here
An F-1 holder may also file an immigration petition based on the classification of "Alien of Extraordinary Ability" (EB-1 (A)) or "Outstanding Professor/Researcher" (EB-1(B)). EB-1(a) is for aliens who have established themselves as possessing extraordinary abilities, outstanding accomplishments, or recognition in their respective field in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Of course, it may be difficult for a student to establish such facts. Anyone who qualifies for one of these categories need not seek a Labor Certification approval. Furthermore, under the EB-1(A) category, no job offer is required, and the alien may petition for his own permanent residency without the necessity of an employer sponsor. For an EB-1(b), it requires a permanent job offer of research or teaching and a sponsorship from an employer. Moreover, the alien needs to show that he / she is “outstanding”. An alien student may apply for an adjustment of status concurrently with an EB-1 application or after the EB-1 approval. For more information about EB-1, please click here.
3. National Interest Waiver (NIW):
In addition, an F-1 holder can file an immigration petition through a "National Interest Waiver". National interest waivers (NIW) are available to aliens who are seeking work in a profession and who have an advanced degree (or equivalent experience) or can prove themselves as "aliens of exceptional ability". Persons in this category ordinarily are required to obtain a Labor Certification and have a permanent job offer, but these requirements can be waived "in the national interest." An F-1 holder, without a sponsoring employer, may file an NIW on behalf of himself; or a U.S. employer may file an NIW for the F-1 holder's benefit. An F-1 student may apply for an adjustment of status after the immigrant visa number becomes available to him or her. For more information about NIW, please click here.
Other Means for obtaining Immigration Status
In addition to the family-based and employment-based petitions there are also other means of obtaining immigrant status, such as through Asylum or the Visa Lottery. For more general information about obtaining Immigrant Status/Permanent Residency, please click here.
(Updated 10/12/2012 by AD)
For more information about F-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: