Most international students leave their home country to study and pursue their dreams in a foreign country. However, it is very difficult to attain legal status in a foreign country to work and access the many privileges that citizens have.
A lot of people have tried but failed to gain legal status in foreign countries leaving them in the difficult position of being illegal immigrants. This is a terrible situation that leaves you unable to work and at the risk of being arrested and deported at all times.
Holding a Green card in the US is a great thing. You get all the rights and privileges of citizens except voting or running for public office. With a Green card, you can work at any place, get college financial aid, scholarships and can live in the country indefinitely as long as you are a law abiding person. Committing some felony crimes can get you deported even if you have a Green card.
As an International Student however, you have one very big advantage in that you came into the country legally and hence are able to adjust your status to Green card holder through a number of ways. Currently, people who enter the US illegally are ineligible to get a Green card by any means.
Below are some ways an International Student can get a green card in the U.S.
If you are lucky to finish college, you may get a job and your company may sponsor you for a Green card. This is difficult especially if there are economic difficulties in the country and citizens are also looking for jobs. However, it's not impossible. The company has to fill in immigration forms explaining why they want to hire a foreigner and show that they cannot find an equally qualified American citizen to fill that job. If there are many Americans qualified and willing to do that job, you will not get the visa. However, if you have specialized skills in high demand areas, and there are not many Americans with that kind of specialization, you have a big chance of getting approved for Green card. The skills in demand vary from time to time but if you are specialized in certain Scientific and Engineering & Health disciplines, there is a high likelihood of getting a Green card through job Sponsorship.
It may be easier for your company to sponsor you if they apply for the "National Interest Waiver". This is where they demonstrate that your employment will contribute to the National interest of the United States. Such cases are considered on an individual basis but past successful candidates have demonstrated that their admission will improve the US economy, improve wages and working conditions for US workers, improve education, housing, health or national security.
If you are in the US as an international Student and there is civil war or political upheavals in your home country that would risk your life to return, you may be eligible for political asylum. There are different laws governing asylum seekers and many criteria that one has to meet. Before applying for asylum, you must consult an immigration lawyer to advise if you are eligible.
Many people have applied and found themselves ineligible for asylum and later have difficulties getting Green card. This is because the immigration department now knows your intent to become an immigrant. Always remember that you came here as a Student with the understanding that you will return to your home country after college.
Another word of caution about immigration lawyers, please spend some money and hire a reputable lawyer who will not mess up your case.
The easiest way to get a green card is to marry a US citizen. Your spouse will then sponsor you for Green card as a family member. While this is an easy method if done right, it carries a lot of dangers.
The rule of thumb is to ensure you have a real marriage. Get married for love with the intention to stay together as a family and not just for green card. While filing your Green card papers, you'll be required to show that you have a real marriage.
Some things you may be asked to prove are: if you live together, how you met, if you know intimate details about each other, if you have children, if the US citizen's family knows about the foreign spouse and many other things to prove that you are married for real. While many American parents are wary of their children marrying foreigners because of the Green card issue, if you show them that you really love their son or daughter, most parents are very cooperative.
If your application is successful, you will get a Two year temporary green card. After two years, you will then get a permanent Green Card if you are still married. This two year period is to ensure that your marriage was real. If your marriage fails before the two year period, you have to show that you were truly married but things just did not work out, otherwise you may not get your permanent Green Card. In all cases while dealing with immigration issues, consult a reputable lawyer.The same thing applies if you marry a green card holder. However, if the Green card holder got his or her green card through marriage, they cannot sponsor you until they become citizens.
If your American spouse is abusive and threatens to divorce you and have you deported, you can still get your greencard if you can prove they abused you. Again, consult your lawyer first.
The Electronic Diversity Visa lottery is another way one can get a Green card to the US. The lottery is held every year and application period is between October to November.
As the name suggests, this is a lottery and there is no guarantee to win. But it's still worth the try. There are some minimum requirements though. One has to have finished high school. Some countries with a lot of immigrants into the US are not eligible.
Enrolling to serve in the US Military, whether Army, Air force, Navy, Marines or National Guard is another way to get a Green card for an International Student. There is however a catch 22 rule that states that you cannot join the Military if you don't already have a green card or work authorization. I will show you some ways around this rule.
There are some career fields in high demand by the military, like nurses, doctors, psychologists e.t.c. and an international student who has been in the US for about two years may be eligible to join even if they don't have a green card.
If you have finished college and got your Optional Practical Training (OPT) work permit, this gives you the right to work for anyone in the US for one year, which theoretically means you can also work for the Military. The best way to find out is to speak with a military recruiter about these eligibility criteria. Military recruiters can be found in every college in the US. They are always looking for recruits and will be very happy to help you out. If one recruiter gives you discouraging news, talk to another recruiter from another Military branch. He or she may have different ideas.
Even if you get into the Military, you must hire a lawyer to pursue your green card application because it will not happen automatically.
Another unlikely way to get a green card as an international student is to be sponsored by a US citizen parent or child. This is rare because most likely, your parents and/or children live in your home country. The sponsor has to be at least 18 years of age. Most international students are young and are not likely to have adult children, hence making this method even more unlikely.
However in the rare case that an international student has a US citizen parent or child, they can sponsor you for green card.
If your relative owns a substantial business in the US, they may be able to sponsor you to work for them. There are however many rules governing this kind of sponsorship and it is advisable to speak to a immigration lawyer.
When trying to get a Green card, it is always advisable to consult a reputable immigration lawyer to guide you through the complicated process. Lawyers cost a lot of money but considering the cost of failure, they are worth every dime they charge.
Another thing to note is to never commit a crime while in the US. While there are situations where people provoke you, it is advisable to be the better person and let things go. Don't do anything stupid that will get you in police records because if you commit a felony, you will be disqualified from getting a green card.