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EB2 and EB3


PERM Labor Cert. Application


EB5: Investors











F1: Student Visa

The F1 Legal Requirements

F1 is for students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, elementary schools, other academic institutions, and in language training programs.

The student shall have documentary evidence of financial support in the amount indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20 (or the Form I-20A-B/I-20ID);

An F-1 student is expected to safekeep the initial I-20 ID bearing the admission number and any subsequent copies which have been issued to him or her.

The spouse and minor children accompanying an F-1 student are eligible for admission in F-2 status if the student is admitted in F-1 status. The spouse and minor children following-to-join an F-1 student are eligible for admission to the United States in F-2 status if they are able to demonstrate that the F-1 student has been admitted and is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study, or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies.
Extension of duration of status.

F1 Employment: On-campus employment

On-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship is deemed to be part of the academic program of a student otherwise taking a full course of study.

On-campus employment. On-campus employment must either be performed on the school's premises, (including on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria), or at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school.
Employment authorized under this paragraph must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session.

Off-campus work authorization:

An F-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus on a part-time. Part-time off-campus employment authorized under this section is limited to no more than twenty hours a week when school is in session. A student who is granted off-campus employment authorization may work full-time during holidays or school vacation. The employment authorization is automatically terminated whenever the student fails to maintain status.

F1 OPT Practical training.

Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year.

A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study.

There are two types of practical training available

Curricular practical training. An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum.

Optional practical training:

A student may apply to the Service for authorization for temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student's major area of study. The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document,

A student may be granted authorization to engage in temporary employment for optional practical training:

During the student's annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled, and is eligible for registration and intends to register for the next term or session;

While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session; or

After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent). Continued enrollment, for the school's administrative purposes, after all requirements for the degree have been met does not preclude eligibility for optional practical training. However, optional practical training must be requested prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study.

Termination of practical training. Authorization to engage in optional practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.

Temporary absence from the United States of F-1 student granted employment authorization.

A student returning from a temporary trip abroad with an unexpired off-campus employment authorization on his or her I-20 ID may resume employment only if the student is readmitted to attend the same school which granted the employment authorization.

An F-1 student who has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion practical training and who is otherwise admissible may return to the United States to resume employment after a period of temporary absence. The EAD must be used in combination with an I-20 ID endorsed for reentry by the DSO within the last six months.

Effect of Periods of Unemployment on F-1 Status

During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization. Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the entire 29-month OPT period. See below for more information about the additional 17 months of OPT.

Change of Employer After Post-Completion OPT Has Been Authorized

You may change employers after you have begun authorized employment provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone having your level of education. See below for your and your employer’s responsibilities for reporting changes to OISS.

Eligibility and Application Information for Additional 17 Months of OPT (STEM)

To be eligible to apply for the 17-month extension under USCIS regulations announced in April 2008, a student must be currently employed under OPT in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study; Have successfully completed a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree in a field on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program list ( from a SEVIS-certified college or university; Have a job or a job offer from an employer that is registered with the E-Verify employment verification system. For more information on E-Verify, visit

Have NOT previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree;

And the employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the student to OISS or through "any other means or process identified by DHS."

F1 Students’ Opportunity to Apply for U.S. Permanent Residency

F1 students may apply for U.S. Permanent Resident by filing self-petitioned immigrant visa application, including EB1A: Alien of Extraordinary Ability, and EB2 National Interest Waiver.

Advantages of Getting U.S. Permanent Residency Before Working for U.S. Employers:

Substantially increase your employment opportunities in the United States

Many U.S. high-tech companies and important government research agencies ONLY hire new employees who are U.S. Permanent Residents.

Substantially increase your opportunities to receive research funding and become a Principal Investigator

If you want to find an academic position, it is extremely important for you to apply for your green card before you graduate from your Ph.D program because many research funding organizations such as DARPA, DOD, NOR, ARO, even NSF and some NIH projects require U.S. Permanent Resident status to apply their research funding.

Substantially decrease the risk of losing your green card application because of the changing job market

The traditional way of relying upon your U.S. employer to apply your green card has caused some difficulties in the current labor market. The following are two examples to explain what will happen if you wait for finding a permanent job position and ask your employer to apply your green card.

Examples: The Impact of Employer’s Downsizing on Your Green Card Application:

A Ph.D. student found a job in a major pharmaceutical company. We suggested that he file his EB2NIW when he was still at a university BEFORE he went to the new job position. His green card was approved shortly after he started the new job. Only 8 months after he worked with the company, the company downsized many employees, including him. If he did not file EB2NIW, he would have lost his lawful status in the United States and his green card application would have been terminated if he waited his employer to file it on his behalf.

In addition, the United States Department of Labor prohibits U.S. companies that lay off employees with similar positions in the last 6 months to file green card applications through labor certification application for their employees.

Examples: The Impact of Hightech Employer’s Closing, Merger and Acquisition on Your Green Card Application

A Ph.D. degree research engineer waited her employer to file green card on her behalf in 1998. Before it was approved, her employer's company was closed down. She changed to another employer and refile her green card application. The second employer was acquired and merged with another company. Her application was delayed again due to the merger and acquisition. After 8 years, her green card application is still pending.

Substantially decrease the length of your waiting time for green card

If you apply green card application at school, you can start the process immediately if you are qualified.

By contrast, the average waiting period for a U.S. company to file a green card application for a new employee is between 1-2 years. Some companies require 3 years working time with the company to initiate a green card application.




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