Green Card

Immigration Road Map: F1 Visa to H1B to Green Card to US Citizenship

foreign student to American citizenshipSeveral thousand students come to USA every year and a handful of those students go through the long, hard process of getting U.S. Citizenship. International student to U.S. Citizenship can take several years. Sometimes people wait for several years even to get their green card.

Green Card 101 Series

  1. Wait Time to Get Green Card in USA for Eb1, EB2 and EB3
  2. Green Card Steps for  EB2 and EB3 Explained
  3. Green Card Visa Numbers availability for E1, EB2 and EB3
  4. US Green Card Waiting Time Based on Pending Applications
  5. Immigration Path : Steps for an F1 Visa to Become U.S. Citizenship (this)
  6. How EB Green Card Spill Over between EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 and EB5 works

Let’s take a journey to various steps a foreign students have to go through to get American Citizenship. Initial steps involve decision making about studying abroad in the USA.

When I  started my Engineering back in India, it was almost pre-decided that I want to study in USA. But, it was a matter of cost involved and when my parents should arrange for large amount of money for bank statements and visa.

Before Coming to USA

  • Decide to study in USA
  • Take college admission tests ( SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc)
  • Apply to Universities
  • Get Admission (I-20)
  • Attend Visa Interview and get Visa
  • Travel to USA

Student Life in USA

  • Reach University
  • Start attending college/university
  • Search for job, internship, financial aid
  • Graduate with degree
  • Apply for Job
  • Attend Job interview

Corporate World

  • Get a Job
  • Move to a new place
  • Get H1B Visa
  • Get Married
  • The spouse could be in H4
  • Green Card Application
  • Long wait (for India and China)
  • Change Jobs (restart Green Card Process)
  • Get Green Card
  • Wait for about 5 years
  • Apply for U.S. Citizenship
  • Become an U.S. Citizen.

This whole process can take several years.

  • Before USA: 2 years
  • Student Life in USA: 2 to 5 years
  • H1B to Green Card: Long wait (EB2 for India – 10+ years)
  • Green Card to Citizenship: 5 More Years
  • Total: About 20+ years.

Don’t you think 20+ years is a long time?  But, that is the reality for several foreign students who came to USA.

I considered the worst case scenarios for this calculation.

If  the employer files for Green Card in EB2 in the second year of your H1B, then the wait times to get GC will be  less than 10 years.

If you happen to file your green card application in EB3, then you might have to wait for a LONG time. I mean several years (like 20 or may be more). Unless Immigration laws are changed, this green card process is time consuming.

Do you have any questions about the wait times and steps listed above?

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  1. Hello Everyone,

    I am finishing my one year of OPT on April 2017. My employer is ready to file GC without h1b.
    My question is – is it possible to do that? and yes, then what are the conditions.

  2. I have a question on this statement ‘If employer files for Green Card in EB2 in second year of your H1B, then the wait times to get GC will be less than 10 years.’ Lets say if my employer initiated my GC application(Step-1 PERM) before I get my H1B, what would be the wait time ?

    1. Wait time remains the same or goes up. You just get into the line faster. Sonner you get into, better for you.

  3. I need your suggestion regarding the following situation that we are facing.

    “My husband is currently on H1B visa since 3 years in USA and I (Priyanka) am on H4 status since Nov 2014. Recently I got admission for MS in Seattle,WA and I am planning to apply for change of status (COS) from H4 to F1. At the same time my husband is looking for new employer to initiate his green card application process.

    The COS application document provided by my college states that “If your spouse has applied for a change of status to permanent resident, Your application will likely be denied if there is a pending application to change status associated with your spouse.”

    What if I apply for COS first and then in next few days if my husband’s new company applies for H1B transfer (Premium) and then initiates the Green card application process, would there be chances of rejection for any one of us or both of us? Will there be any impacts on getting approvals for respective applications (COS and Green Card)”

  4. I just started working. My company is sponsoring for my work visa. This is only one month with the company. They will do my application for H1b next year. There is a lot of uncertainty about getting work visa because of the lottery system. If i don’t get the work visa; can the company directly apply for my green card with in the few months of my work or do i have to work here for sometime to get eligible for a green card application.

    If they apply i also heard Green card doesn’t help give a status so i have to be on work visa to have a status. This is my question ?

  5. Hi Raghu,

    It’s a great article explaining the dauntus road to become a US citizen. But, I am also eager to know about steps involved in changing citizenship say after working for some years I ought to become Indian citizen again. Are there problems involved in gaining back citizenship in India since India allows for a single citizenship whereas USA allows dual. I hope an article on gaining back Indian citizenship and all problems involved will also help people with a perspective of going back to india. Thanks.

  6. I think it’s the allure of the bright career and economic prospects which motivates people to stay on and obtain their green card against all odds. But the entire process is dotted with phases where you need to fill embassy forms and go through complex interviews. Most importantly, you will need to avoid visa violations such as inviting family members when you are not authorized to, working on a tourist visa, etc.

  7. After hearing lots of answer like Why you want to go USA?, what difference it will make in you ? I just came to some conclusion..

    It is self inflicting burden to study in US , if you wish to study in US its good , but if you wish make real difference this not best way ,you should look for opening a big company from scratch.The reason is in USA you still be guided by your professors in highly structured manner which Indian profs aren’t capable of as of now.I mean even Bangladeshi’s ,Zimbabwe guys do well in USA because US management system is so organised well that it shapes out talent from anybody.If you had stayed here possibly you would have felt much more difficult circumstances like  , handling traffic , dust, rains , managing people , chaos , difficult work culture etc.There more tougher problems in India .The only reason behind studying in USA is craze and nothing else.You are ready to pay 30 lacs for 2 -3 years and that too with rigid schedule .It is adventurous but is pure dilettantish.Conclusion is never complain if things go wrong in USA

    1. Dear Samit,
      it was a very good short article.but was that necessary to comment on any particular nationality like Bangladesh,Zimbabwe and so and so.and i have attended a very decent US school,but i have seen lots of students from the countries you have listed with talents that do not require to be shaped by USA.i appreciate your opinion but i think the example was unnecessary and should be more researched because it might be linked to someone’s own country or people

  8. Hundreds of thousands of students go to the US to pursue masters, as stated nt many get through the whole process with ease in the shortest period .What do those guys can do after their temporary visas get expired .Can they really move to a country say the UK or canada if the employer there is willing to hire him or what can be done if the wait is too long ??

    regards 😀

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