How To Go From F-1 Visa Or OPT To Work Visa Or Green Card

How To Go From F-1 Visa Or OPT To Work Visa Or Green Card

Let’s say you’re on an F-1 visa. You’re an international student, and you’re getting ready to start your OPT. Or perhaps you’re already on OPT, or your OPT may be about to end.

Now you’re wondering what’s next in your immigration journey. How do you transition from F-1 or OPT to a work visa or a green card, i.e., something more permanent? What should be your next step in your immigration journey?

I’m Josh Goldstein, an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, and I help people across the country and around the world get work visas, green cards, and citizenship. And today, I’m going to answer your questions about this.

People want to know what their options are after an F-1 visa, and it’s really pretty simple. Here are the things that you should keep in mind if you’re on an F-1 visa and you’re wondering what’s next.

Employer Sponsorship

First of all, the traditional way for an international student to get a work visa is through employer sponsorship. In other words, you start on an F-1 and then you get OPT status. And by way of OPT, you have a job, which comes with an employer.

If the employer likes you, they may be willing to sponsor your work visa, probably an H-1B visa. Those are for jobs that are specialty occupations. Specifically, they are jobs that can’t possibly be performed without at least a college degree. And the employer is willing to sponsor your H-1B visa, so you can get a work visa in the United States.

And from there, you could possibly move on to an employment-based green card. So, one path for an F-1 student who’s headed towards OPT is through employer sponsorship.

Extraordinary Abilities Visa

There are other work visa options as well. For example, if you have extraordinary abilities, then you could also pursue a work visa called an O-1 visa.

A Green Card Through Marriage

Yet another possibility is family-based immigration, and most of the time, that means a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

Now, I’m not trying to give you personal advice. I’m not telling you to run out there and get married. I’m just observing that a lot of people who are international students end up in relationships, and some of those relationships turn into a marriage, which means you may be headed towards a marriage green card. So, the second possibility that you might consider is a green card through a family relationship, or through marriage.

Other Green Card Options

If you don’t qualify for any of the above, the opportunities become a little more scant. One option might be to pursue a green card through diversity visa lottery selection.

You could also consider applying for asylum if you’re afraid to return to your home country because of fear of persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion.

There are green cards and work visas you can get through investment. They include the E-1, the E-2 or the EB-5 visa, reserved for the investor-based path.

Those are the main ways for people to move from being an international student on an F-1 to someone on an OPT, and then to a work visa or a green card.

What You Should Do

If you’re interested in exploring the specifics of these options, if you have questions, or if there’s anything at all that I can do to help you, just reach out to me and let me know. I would be happy to help you.