While most of you who are graduating and settling down into new jobs are thinking about the pathway to citizenship in the US. You are having the correct thoughts. The first step is to become a legal permanent resident or attain the green card.
Employment based green cards come in 3 categories: EB1, 2 and 3. For most countries EB 3 has a huge backlog, meaning the wait period is more than 10 years. For countries like China and India, even EB 2 filing might take around 8 years or more. It is getting worse. There is not much progress from a legislative point because the argument about immigration starts to revolve around illegal immigrants for the most time.
Without a green card, raises, job mobility, plans to buy a home and more are affected. Well, as human beings there is nothing we can do about things that are out of our control. However, if there is anything that is in your control, then you should try to see what you can do about it. This is where EB 1 category comes into play. This is awarded to the most brightest people who have excelled professionally from around the world. Sounds daunting, but it really isn’t.
My recommendation would be for students to get involved in solid research. The option of working on research is present from the undergraduate level through to the highest degree. If you work hard and are able to publish one excellent paper in a premium journal or able to achieve a patent, you should be able to make a case for EB 1. Because that one good paper would be cited by other researchers proving your worth. That one patent would validate the uniqueness of your work. Of course, you can buy kits to learn the rules and file EB 1 yourself or work with an immigration attorney. Students during their study period should keep this in mind and work on their research. Because it really pays. It usually takes about 6 months to less than an year to get a green card via EB 1 category. You make the choice, if this is worth pursuing….:)