Everything You Should Know About a PhD Green Card
As a PhD student, it might not be as easy to get your green card as you thought it would be. There is a lot of paperwork to go through, many rules to follow, and a lot of categorizing to do.
Sometimes, all of this can be a little overwhelming – and as a student coming from overseas, you might not know exactly what to do to make your stay permanent and legal. Plus, it is only getting harder to get your hands on a green card under Trump, as the immigration laws have changed.
If you don’t know exactly what you are supposed to do in order to get your PhD green card, this article might prove to be fairly useful for you. Read on to find out the protocol.
Can a PhD Student Apply for a Green Card?
Obviously, a PhD student may apply for a green card – provided they follow a certain set of rules. Obviously, in order for you to receive your green card, you have to prove that there is a reason for you to be allowed to stay in the US. That being said, here is how a student may apply for a green card.
EB-1 Green Card
The EB-1 is likely at the top of preferences when it comes to obtaining your green card as a PhD student or holder – and is also one of the most popular options for employment-based immigration.
If you are eligible for the EB-1 green card, then you will no longer need your employer to go through the PERM process. The paperwork will be fairly simple, as the EB-1 is divided into three different categories: the EB-1A and EB-1B which are for students and PhD holders – and the EB-1C, which is meant for executives and managers of multinational companies.
EB-1A for PhD Green Card
This category is appropriate for those that show extraordinary talent and achievements in various areas, such as arts, science, business, athletics, and many more. Still, you will need to bring proof of your achievement – in most cases being an international award (e.g. a Nobel Prize).
EB-1B for PhD Green Card
The second green card category for PhD holders is the EB-1B category – one which is designed for professors and outstanding researchers. Compared to the EB-1A, this one tackles a much narrower group – but at the same time, the requirements are not as high.
PhD Green Card Eligibility
A person that brings the required documentation should be eligible for a PhD green card. In this case, the person in question will have to prove that they are useful in their field – and that they have the awards necessary to do so. Ideally, you should confirm with your attorney to determine whether you are eligible for a PhD green card or not.
It may be called a PhD green card – but in order to be eligible for this type of residence document, you do not necessarily need the actual PhD. You only have to prove that the work you provide is substantial and that it is actually useful in your field.
PhD Green Card Required Documents
In order to apply for a green card, you will have to submit certain documentation. The number of documents, as well as their nature, will depend on the type of PhD green card that you are going for – whether it is an EB-1A or EB-1B green card.
For the EB-1A, you will need to submit the following documents:
- A small award that has still received national or international recognition.
- A number of scholarly articles that were published in a trade or professional journal.
- Proof of significant contribution in regards to your practice.
- Material that has been written by others in which your abilities are being detailed.
- Proof that you are a member of an association or organization that requires the member to possess extraordinary abilities.
- Playing a crucial role in a recognized organization.
- Having been a judge of the work provided by other people working in your field.
- Having a fairly large salary that is indicative of your competence in the field.
These are only a few examples. According to USCIS, even if you do not fall under these categories, but have other comparable evidence, then you may still be able to submit an application. Ideally, you might want to work with your attorney to ensure that you qualify for such a green card.
On the other hand, in order to apply for an EB-1B PhD green card, you need to bring at least two of the following documents to the table:
- Proof that you have received a distinguished or renowned award or prize for your efforts in your domain.
- Evidence that you have contributed important research of scientific or scholarly nature in your field.
- Proof that you have participated as a judge in regards to the work of your peers
- Books or scholarly articles that appear in distinguished publications from your domain.
- Proof of membership in at least one organization that requests for outstanding entry work.
- Material published by other scholars regarding your work in the field.
Like with the EB-1A, the EB-1B also requires that you work with an attorney. They will know whether you have any comparable evidence that has not been mentioned above or not.
How to Apply for a PhD Green Card
You may apply for a green card during your studies or after you have received your PhD. Typically speaking, this type of green card is applied for when the student enrolls for higher studies – but you can also apply once you have gotten your PhD and want to remain in the US research field.
You apply by sending the required documents (proof of contribution and the I-140 petition form) and fees to USCIS – and then wait for the agents to send you a response. This process might take around 4-12 months – but in most cases, it is done in around 6 months.
You may opt for self-petition – or you may ask your employer to do it on your behalf. Self-petitioning is generally a popular way to obtain a green card, as it does not require sponsorship. It is also a fairly good option for those that do not have many acquaintances in the Uthe S.
How Much Does PhD Green Card Cost?
The USCIS application fee for a PHD green card is $700 – but bear in mind that you might also have to spend quite a lot of money on an attorney as well. The average attorney fee could be around $3,000.
You might want to do some browsing to look for someone that offers attractive rates. You don’t necessarily need an attorney – but they will help you in the process, to ensure that your petition does not get denied.
PhD Green Card Premium Processing
Sometimes, waiting for 6 months might seem like too long to process your I-140 – in which case, you may choose to have premium processing. For an additional fee, this will shorten the time, making you only wait for about 15 calendar days.
Bear in mind that this won’t expedite other processing steps to get a PhD green card – only your I-140 petition.
PhD Green Card Frequently Ask Questions
When it comes to a PhD green card, there are bound to be some questions. Here are some answers that might make your application process much easier.
Is there a direct path to a green card through my PhD?
Sadly, there is currently no direct path to getting a green card through your PhD. Having it will not automatically grant you a green card – no matter if it is EB-1 or any other category. However, it will provide an advantage if you are lacking in some other requirements for the EB-1.
Do I have to have a STEM degree?
A STEM degree can be very useful when it comes to getting a green card – particularly if you are opting for a National Interest Waiver. USCIS, however, will not discriminate based on your field. A person with a doctorate in arts will have the same chances of getting their EB-1 as someone with a doctorate in computer science.
What should I do if my petition is denied?
If your application for the EB-1 has been rejected, then you will need a lawyer more than ever. You can appeal to their decision or go through a legal motion in which you request them to reconsider.
Sometimes, you may have to contemplate applying for a green card based on a lower-preference level. However, in most cases, adding more useful documentation should be enough to change their mind.
The Bottom Line
Getting a PhD green card is certainly not going to be easy – and in most cases, it can be a time-consuming process. Still, with the help of a lawyer and by gathering the right documentation, you should be able to legalize your stay in the US by making use of your PhD or research.