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H-1B Visa Is Just the Beginning, US Green Card Comes at a Cost and a Long Run


The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 1st that the first round of lottery selections for the FY 2025 H-1B work visas has been completed (applicants with master’s degrees or higher are eligible for the second round), and electronic notifications have been sent to the selected applicants.


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Applicants can now log in to the immigration agency’s online system to check their results. If it shows “Selected,” congratulations! You’ve been chosen as one of the fortunate recipients of the H-1B visa! Many international students and their parents might assume that being selected in the H-1B lottery secures their status in the United States. However, being selected for the H-1B visa does not guarantee permanent residency in the United States. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, and obtaining a green card involves overcoming several significant hurdles. The entire process can take ten years or more.


H-1B Sponsorship ≠ Green Card Sponsorship

Taking Goldman Sachs & Co. as an example, over the past three fiscal years, Goldman Sachs has submitted a total of 5,525 H-1B visa applications, but only 450 green card applications, accounting for approximately 8% of the total. This indicates that it is challenging for international students to transition from an H-1B visa to a green card. Moreover, this data only reflects the number of sponsorship applications submitted by Goldman Sachs and does not imply that the sponsored individuals actually obtained the visa or green card.

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Remain in Employment

Securing an H-1B visa provides you with up to 6 years of work authorization. If terminated during this period, they have 60 days to find a new employer for visa renewal; otherwise, the H-1B visa becomes invalid, requiring departure from the country.

Recent reports show frequent layoffs at major American companies, making it crucial for H-1B visa holders to be proactive in securing their employment.


Long Waiting Period

According to the April visa bulletin released by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), both EB-2 and EB-3 categories are facing wait times of nearly 4 years or more. When you submit your green card application in a few years, predicting the waiting period will be even more challenging. Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that remaining employed is essential during the green card waiting process.


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The identity dilemma persists for international students aspiring to remain in the United States long-term. The H-1B visa serves as a transition, requiring subsequent filings of Employment-Based Immigration petitions to attain permanent residency status. Conventional routes like EB-2 or EB-3 may entail extensive waits of 8-10 years or more, posing challenges in terms of stability and certainty.


Employment-based Categories

There are several employment-based categories for green card acquisition:

1. Challenging: National Interest Waiver (NIW)

   – Targets professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.

   – Recent international graduates may find it difficult to meet the eligibility criteria.

2. Even More Challenging: EB-1A

   – Aims to attract outstanding talents in various fields.

   – Recent international graduates may struggle to meet the stringent requirements.

3. Very Limited Group: EB-4

   – Limited to religious workers, making it unrealistic for many applicants.

4. Simple and Fast: EB-5

   – No language, educational, or entrepreneurial prerequisites.

   – Requires a US$800,000 investment, refundable after 2-7 years, making it cost-effective.

   – Reserved visas for rural and high-unemployment projects.

   – Allows legal residence and work autonomy within 90 days without employer dependence.


The new EB-5 program offers expedited processing, facilitating green card acquisition in just 2-3 years. Applicants in the U.S. can concurrently file, obtaining a combo card within 90 days for early access to green card benefits. With over 3,000 families already in the application process, the waiting period is minimal.


Globevisa strongly recommends families with U.S. identity aspirations to promptly initiate the process to leverage these policy adjustments.




References:

https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/notice-of-fy-2025-h-1b-cap-initial-registration-selection-process-completion-and-cap-season

https://www.myvisajobs.com/Visa-Sponsor/Goldman-Sachs/209527.htm

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2024/visa-bulletin-for-april-2024.html

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