The international student’s path to employment-based U.S. citizenship

For many young people around the world, the U.S. is a competitive and desirable location to complete higher education, such as college and graduate programs. But what happens beyond graduation? Here, we outline a few ways that foreign national students on international student visas can navigate the U.S. immigration system to remain legal residents, and eventually citizens, of the United States. 


Sponsorship by Employer 

Ideally, after completing your education program, a company in your niche industry will hire you. Many companies have work sponsorship options for foreign nationals, while some companies don’t sponsor work visas for their employees. Learning a company’s stance on this issue prior to applying or interviewing is a smart move. Thankfully, we have seen more companies appeal to the international employee as a way to increase diversity and other DEI goals. However, it’s best to be sure as this is variable from company to company.


Self-petition based on talent

If you want to stay in the U.S. without your status linked to a contingent job offer, an EB-1 visa might be the right path for you. If you are skillful in the fields of science, art, business, or have another area of extraordinary expertise, along with managerial expertise in your area of study, you might qualify. It’s best to review your unique case and eligibility with an immigration attorney. 


Express dual intent

These specific and temporary work visas are tied to an end goal, which is permanent legal residency in the United States. The difference with this versus other options, is that a typical temporary visa is not meant to be a pathway to permanent residency. Temporary work visas signify that a foreign national will keep their native nationality and residency and return to their native country once a visa term length is completed. Dual intent has an up front understanding that the applicant would like to remain in the U.S.


Invest in the U.S.

Monetary investments into the United States economy allow you to receive a special type of green card visa. However, this route of receiving a green card could be helpful only if you are wealthy and can afford it. Investments in any US enterprise which could raise employment for more than 10 permanent jobs and which ranges from more than $500k helps with EB-5 visa. While this is a straightforward path, the monetary requirements deem many interested foreign nationals as ineligible.