Studying in the United States can also be a pathway to permanent residency, although the process can be complex and challenging. (See helpful links at the bottom of the page.)
Here are some key points to consider:
1. Student Visa: International students typically require an F-1 or M-1 visa to study in the United States. This allows them to pursue academic or vocational programs respectively. Students must maintain their visa status by fulfilling the requirements of their program and abiding by the regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2. Optional Practical Training (OPT): After completing their program, students with an F-1 visa may be eligible for a period of work authorization known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows them to work in their field of study for up to 12 months. Students in STEM fields may be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT extension.
3. H-1B Visa: The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialized occupations. Some graduates may be able to secure an H-1B visa if they find a job with a sponsoring employer. However, there are limitations on the number of H-1B visas available each year, and it can be a competitive process.
4. Employment-Based Green Card: International students can also explore employment-based green cards (permanent residency) as a pathway to stay in the U.S. permanently. This process requires sponsorship from a U.S. employer who can demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the position. There are different categories under which individuals can apply, such as the EB-1 for individuals with extraordinary abilities or outstanding researchers, or the EB-2 for those with advanced degrees or exceptional ability.
5. Diversity Lottery: Each year, the U.S. government holds a Diversity Visa Lottery program that randomly selects individuals from countries with low immigration rates to provide them an opportunity to apply for an immigrant visa (green card). This is a rare opportunity and is subject to eligibility criteria and strict annual limits.
It’s important to note that the immigration laws and policies in the United States can be complex and subject to change. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or a certified immigration consultant to fully understand the options and requirements specific to your situation.
The United States can be costly (especially the New York and California areas). Why not explore some of the smaller cities/lower population states and do a cost comparison utilizing tuition and accommodation.