According to a study from the Pew Research Center, the United States has more highly-educated immigrants than any other country in the world. In states like California, these immigrants attend universities and have prestigious positions at tech companies in Silicon Valley. Surveys suggest that a majority of the American people want even more highly educated immigrants to come to the country. There are a few pathways these individuals have to get to the U.S.
The H-1B visa program is one of the largest immigration pathways for individuals who have a specialized skill or a college degree. It’s a temporary program for employment and residency that’s given to employers rather than immigrants themselves. There are a lot more applicants for H-1Bs than there are spots available, creating very long waits for immigrants coming from China and India. Those with graduate degrees from U.S. institutions are given priority.
Lawful, permanent residence is available for foreign workers through green cards, though they are not limited in any way to the highly educated. These are granted based on a complex system of categories and quotas. Employment-related green cards account for only about 12 percent of the total while family-sponsored recipients account for about 66 percent. F-1 visas or the Optional Practical Training program might be an easier option for students.
Students and highly-educated workers who want lawful residence in the United States can benefit from the support and guidance of an attorney. Immigration law in the United States can be very complex and difficult, and long wait times and rejections are not uncommon. It’s the responsibility of a lawyer to help their client navigate the system in a way that maximizes their chances of gaining lawful residency whether it’s through a visa, green card, or another program.