Question: As a foreign student, what is my path to become a permanent resident?
Answer: When you graduate from University here, you are entitled to obtain optional practical training in order to gain experience for one year. If your degree is in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM STUDENTS), you may apply for more than one year and up to 29 months. To qualify, the employer has to adhere to the E verify employment program.
Question: Suppose my employer wants me to work for a period longer than one year or even in the Sciences for more than 29 months?
Answer: An employer may apply for you as a highly skilled employee (H-1). Since you have or will have a college degree when you graduate, you would be eligible. This process would need to be started on April 1st of 2013 since the quota for H-1 is not now available. If the application is filed on April 1st of next year, you may then be approved to start on October 1st, 2013. This work authorization may be granted for an initial approval for 3 years and thereafter renewed for another three years.
Question: How can I get permanent residence?
Answer: If your employer is satisfied with your work performance, ask him/her to apply for your permanent residence. Explain to the employer that then you could then be part of the company’s permanent staff. Of course, once you’re a permanent resident, you would be a free agent: you can stay with the employer or change your employer or even start your own business. To qualify for permanent residence, your employer would have to apply for a Labor Certification to prove that the work you are required to perform and for which you’re qualified for is not available among U.S. workers who are qualified and available.
The work generally offered must be of a character that the job’s required skill can only be filled by a person with a university degree. If you are married and have minor children from abroad, these benefits would also be conferred on your spouse and children.
If the employer is not yet ready to apply for permanent residence when you ask for this help, still if the employer finally decides that he/she would like to help you later, he/she may do so before the end of the 5th year of employment. Since the Labor Certification process could take more than a year to complete, if the Labor Certification process has been commenced before the end of the 5th year, you can be granted extensions of the H-1 status until you receive your permanent residence.
If you need help or advise, call us at 212-944-9420.