Career Hub - Duke University

  • Undergraduate Students
  • Doctoral Students
  • Master’s Students
  • Engineering Master’s Students
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Parents & Families
  • Asian / Pacific Islander
  • Black/African American
  • First Generation/Low Income
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • International
  • Native American/Indigenous
  • Neurodiverse
  • Student Athletes
  • Students with Disabilities
  • Undocumented
  • What is a Career Community?
  • Business, Finance & Consulting
  • Data, Technology & Engineering
  • Discovery & Exploration
  • Education, Government, Nonprofit & Policy
  • Energy, Environment & Sustainability
  • Entertainment, Media & Arts
  • Healthcare & Biomedical Sciences
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Design
  • Know Yourself
  • Explore Options
  • Focus & Prepare
  • Take Action
  • Evaluate & Refine
  • Featured Opportunities
  • Career Readiness Resources
  • Personalize Your Hub
  • For Employers

Fast Track Your Green Card: How a PhD Accelerates Your Immigration Process

  • Share This: Share Fast Track Your Green Card: How a PhD Accelerates Your Immigration Process on Facebook Share Fast Track Your Green Card: How a PhD Accelerates Your Immigration Process on LinkedIn Share Fast Track Your Green Card: How a PhD Accelerates Your Immigration Process on X

This article was originally published in the New Immigrant Insider by Dr. Aditi Paul.

In 2009, as I prepared to move to the US, my sister gave me a piece of advice that I hated with all my guts.

“Don’t go for MS. Go for PhD”

For someone who wanted to quit education after high school, this was the worst possible news ever. MORE education? No, thank you.

But, in hindsight – it turned out to be the best advice.

Not only did a PhD open doors of opportunity, but it also expedited my immigration journey through EB1-B (a category reserved exclusively for Researchers and Professors), saving me 50+ years of my life.

How exactly does a PhD help you qualify for the EB1 category?

1. a phd helps you identify your field of expertise.

To qualify for EB1-B, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability in your specific field of expertise. The field of expertise is a crucial aspect of the EB1 visa application, as it forms the basis for assessing your achievements , recognition , and impact in that particular field.

One of the core requirements of a PhD is to delve deeply into a particular field, gaining comprehensive knowledge and expertise in a specialized area.

2. A PhD trains you to make original contributions

One of the 6 requirements of EB1-B is for you to provide “Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field.”

The very essence of a PhD lies in producing original perspectives, methodologies, and impactful insights, often showcased in dissertations and publications.

Also, it is not enough for you to produce original knowledge in PhD. You also need to demonstrate the significance of your contribution by effectively communicating the novelty, rigor, results, and potential impact of your research.

3. A PhD helps you gain global recognition

The first sentence of EB1 qualification says that you need to “…..demonstrate you have sustained national or international acclaim..”

PhD puts you on the trajectory to achieve this level of recognition.

As a PhD student, you are typically required to share your original contributions at conferences, in the US and abroad , gaining international recognition and fostering global collaborations.

So, what is the moral of the story?

First, listen to your older siblings – those folks are SMART!

Second, learn how to strategically leverage a PhD to expedite your green card journey, unlocking a wealth of possibilities in the United States, the ultimate land of opportunity.

Read the full article here…

' src=

U.S. flag

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Website

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( A locked padlock ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

  • Create Account

Immigration Paths for Scientific Researchers in the U.S.: Part 1 of 3

by Brian Getson


As an immigration lawyer in the U.S., I travel to the annual meetings of numerous major scientific organizations to give presentations and provide free consultations. I find that most foreign scientists, from PhD students to postdocs who have been in the U.S. for many years, have a poor understanding of their legal situation. If you are going to school or working in the U.S. and you are not a green card holder (“lawful permanent resident”) or U.S. citizen it is extremely important that you understand your own personal path that will lead to a green card. You should have a clear timeline so that you understand your situation and know exactly when it will be necessary for you to take action and move forward at each step of the process.

Start by asking yourself about your plans in the U.S. What is your dream job? Is it a tenure track teaching position or is it in industry? If you are currently a PhD student, do you want to do a postdoc or go straight to industry? Once you have established your short- and long-term goals, you can start to formulate a plan for your own personal immigration timeline.

green card for phd student

F-1 Student Visas and OPT (Work Authorization)

If you complete a PhD in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, it is possible to apply for a green card before you graduate with your PhD, but for a variety of reasons, it is usually not recommended. Depending on your future plans, there may be no benefit to applying early and few people qualify before graduating. In some cases it may make sense to take the risk, but as that is relatively rare, I’m going to skip over this option.

If you are a PhD graduate with an F-1 student visa, your first option after graduation is to obtain work authorization through the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program. Through OPT, you can obtain an EAD or (Employment Authorization Document) if you did your PhD in the U.S. Generally, a U.S. PhD qualifies you for three years of work authorization through the OPT program.

Eventually, at the end of your OPT, you will need a green card or a work visa. A green card gives you a permanent lawful status in the U.S. and a path to citizenship. There are two main paths to get a green card (also known as “lawful permanent resident” status): 1) EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) or NIW (National Interest Waiver) Petitions and 2) the PERM labor certification process.

EB-1A and NIW Green Card Petitions

I will discuss the EB-1A and NIW paths in detail in future articles. The one thing that I want you to remember about them for now is that you can “self-petition” or, in layman’s terms, you can file an application for a green card in these categories without an employer. This, however, requires higher qualifications than the second path, the PERM labor certification, and not everyone will qualify to self-petition.

The PERM Labor Certification

If you can’t win an EB-1A or NIW case, you will probably need an employer to help you get a green card. You will need an employer to help due to something called the “labor certification” requirement. Under U.S. law, in order to get a green card, most workers have to prove that there are no U.S. citizens or green card holders who are qualified for a particular job/position offered by an employer who is willing to file a “labor certification” for you.

Now, many immigrants are currently working in a job where they are the MOST qualified person for the job. If you have been working in a particular lab or for a particular employer, on a certain scientific problem, working on a particular project, that lab or project would obviously suffer if you are forced to leave the U.S. or if you decide to leave because you aren’t able to get a green card. No one else knows your job as well as you do. The lab or company would have to recruit a new employee to replace you, it would delay research projects that you are working on, and, in many cases, important research findings may never be made.

However, U.S. law doesn’t take these contributions into account. The law is designed to PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS. I disagree with the premise that the law actually protects American workers, and I think people like you who are driving scientific research in this country make Americans in general, and specifically, Americans who are involved in research, much better off. Many economists will agree with me on this point, but the economics of this issue aren’t relevant to the decisions that you and your potential employers will be forced to make.

The law says that a company/employer who is willing to file a labor certification for an immigrant worker to help the worker get a green card has to prove that there is “no minimally qualified American worker” for the job.

It isn’t enough to prove that you are the “best applicant”. Rather, you and your employer have to disqualify all other applicants (who are U.S. citizens or green card holders) for the position being offered to you. Also, the “minimum qualifications” for the position are often limited by guidelines from the Department of Labor and these guidelines often set very low qualifications. If a job requires a particular degree and two years of work experience in the field, then any U.S. citizen or green card holder with the right degree and two years of work experience in the field can kill your PERM case simply by submitting a resume to the employer. If your PERM case fails, then you will not have a path to a green card through your employer, although they can try again in the future and retest the labor market.

I think that this system is unfair, and that’s why the EB-1A and NIW categories are so important.

Why Avoid the PERM Labor Certification?

In addition to the possibility that it will be denied, there is another important reason why you may want to avoid the PERM process. If an employer filed a PERM case for you, you may be forced to work for that employer for years before you get your green card. If you decide to change jobs during the process, you abandon the PERM case because it belongs to your employer, not to you. The only exception to this is rare as you can change jobs and still receive your green card after the PERM case is approved and after you file a green card application that has been pending more than 180 days.

In my next blog post, I will talk about the two most important work visas, H-1B and J-1 visas, and how they will impact your path to a green card.

About the Author:

Recommended articles.

No related posts.

Image of chandelier light


Stay up-to-date on the latest immigration law news, with the Cohen & Tucker team's insights behind the headlines

The STEM PHD Green Card Explained

Why are green card rules special for stem ph.d. holders.

green card for phd student

The United States creates immigration opportunities for people who can help to make the United States leaders in innovation. The United States always needs people with special skills, high-ranking professionals, and people with advanced degrees to help fortify the country’s strengths. If you have a STEM Ph.D., you may be able to contribute to the spirit of U.S. innovation. 

What Is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The term “STEM” is used to refer to jobs, professionals, and research in any of the four fields the acronym describes. These fields are somewhat complicated to get into. 

STEM fields require higher education and unique expertise. Most high-level STEM careers require applicants to have a Master’s degree or Doctorate degree (Ph.D.). People who have achieved higher education in these fields have worked hard to prove themselves capable of taking on some of the most difficult and important jobs in society.

STEM professionals are necessary for innovation. Without professionals in these fields, society would stagnate. Industries couldn’t grow, there would be no advances in modern medicine, and we would lack infrastructure for our ever-growing, constantly changing world.

People qualified to work in STEM fields are in high demand. Many students in the United States elect to pursue careers that require a four-year Bachelor’s degree or less. There are plenty of career opportunities in the United States for people who elect to participate in training programs, apprenticeships, internships, or two-year certifications. These are the most common career paths that U.S. citizens choose.

The United States often does not have a sufficient number of citizens working in STEM fields, which is why immigration policies for qualified STEM professionals tend to be more lenient than work-related green cards and visas for people who work in other fields. 

What Is the Keep STEM Talent Act of 2023?

A bipartisan bill introduced in 2023 acknowledges the invaluable contributions of foreign-born STEM professionals in the United States. About two-thirds of STEM students with the most desirable majors living in the United States were born outside of the country. 

The United States wants to prioritize research into artificial intelligence and semiconductors, two rapidly advancing areas of technology. Since the majority of individuals majoring in these fields are immigrants or are currently living outside of the United States, the bill declares that the best option is to retain these foreign-born students and to make it easier for people with similar educational credentials to relocate to the United States.

The Keep Stem Talent Act aims to incentivize STEM students currently attending university in the United States to stay once they’ve graduated. It would allow students with job offers upon graduation to remain in the United States, seamlessly transitioning from student status to employment status via an exemption to employment-based green card limits. This exemption would extend to their immediate family members.

People in the United States on student visas are currently only allowed within the United States for a singular nonimmigrant purpose. Students in the United States can have difficulty applying for green cards with employer sponsorship while on a student visa. A new provision would allow for “dual intent,” which allows students to have both immigrant and nonimmigrant intent, which ultimately makes it easier to be sponsored for a green card by an employer in a STEM field.

The passage of this bill would allow for streamlined STEM career opportunities within the United States for students who opt to attend U.S. educational institutions. It would further simplify the process for STEM graduates who would like to contribute to scientific and technological advancement in the United States.

How Many Employment-Based Green Cards Does the United States Offer Per Year?

The United States makes approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards available per fiscal year. The fiscal year ends on September 30th and begins on October 1st each year. Out of the 140,000 total available green cards, a specific number of those green cards are reserved for people with advanced degrees. This would include STEM Ph.D. holders.

Which Kind of Green Card Should STEM Ph.D. Holders Apply For?

Most STEM Ph.D. holders prefer to apply for the EB-1A visa. The EB-1A visa is specifically reserved for high-level professionals of extraordinary ability. Competition for EB-1A visas is significantly less because the majority of people applying for an employment-based visa or green card wouldn’t meet the qualifications to apply for EB-1A. Hopeful immigrants who do not meet the criteria for EB-1A may have more success with EB-2.

The EB-1 Visa

The EB-1A visa is reserved specifically for individuals with extraordinary ability in their fields. STEM fields are considered highly important for immigration purposes. Unlike other types of employment-related visas, immigrants are able to fully self-petition for the EB-1A visa. EB-1A petitioners do not need to have an active job offer in the United States, and they don’t require employer sponsorship.

Because EB-1A recipients have so much freedom, they also have a lot to prove. The EB-1A green card is commonly obtained by people who have received major accolades or awards for their professional work and published noteworthy professionals regarded as leaders in their field.

The EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 visa is technically one step down from the EB-1 visa. EB-2 visas are also for professionals with either advanced degrees or exceptional ability, but the criteria are slightly different. EB-2 applicants under the advanced degree category must have a degree higher than a Bachelor’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree with at least five years of relevant, progressive experience in their field. 

EB-2 applicants under the exceptional ability category must establish they have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. 

You must at least 3 of the following criteria to show exceptional ability:

  • Official academic records showing you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning related to your area of exceptional ability.
  • Letters from current or former employers showing at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation.
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession.
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary that demonstrates your exceptional ability.
  • Membership in a professional association(s).
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, or professional or business organizations.
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

EB-2 applicants are also required to have a pending job offer in the United States before applying. Employer sponsorship is required.

The EB-2 Visa With National Interest Waiver

The EB-2 Visa with National Interest Waiver allows for an exception to the job offer requirement for the EB-2 Visa. If the work you do as a STEM professional would be considered of great benefit to the United States workforce, you may not need a current job offer to obtain an EB-2 visa. Your immigration would be considered furtherance of the national interest of the United States as a whole. 

It can be very difficult to obtain an EB-2 visa with a National Interest Waiver . Obtaining a National Interest Waiver is a separate process that runs concurrent to obtaining the visa. National Interest Waivers are typically reserved for people who only narrowly fall short of the criteria for an EB-1A visa but can also be issued in emergency cases where someone’s expertise is needed for a matter of urgent importance.

Do You Have To Obtain Your Doctorate Degree in the United States?

You don’t need to obtain your doctorate degree (or equivalent) in the United States in order to be considered for a STEM-related immigrant visa. Proposed bills would incentivize people who come to the United States on a student visa to complete their education, but they are not exclusively considered to receive STEM Ph.D. green cards.

What If You’re From a Country That Doesn’t Have Doctorate Degrees?

The United States accepts Ph.D. equivalent degrees from other countries. You do not need to graduate from a United States educational institution to qualify as a STEM Ph.D. recipient. 

The United States will also accept degrees like the following degrees from abroad:

  • DSc (Doctor of Science) as issued in Japan, Egypt, and South Korea.
  • Dr. rer. Nat. (Doctor rerum naturalium / Doctor of the things of nature) as issued in Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic.
  • Dr. Ing. (Doctorate of Engineering) as issued in Germany.
  • Dr. phil. Nat as issued in Switzerland.
  • Doctorate by Dissertation as issued in Japan.
  • Doctor Nauk (Doctor of Science), as issued in Russia and Poland.

Many of these degrees aren’t exclusively awarded to people in STEM fields. Your receipt of this equivalent degree must be in a STEM-related field. Doctor rerum naturalium degrees can be awarded for biology, chemistry, pharmacy, and other life sciences. This means that Dr. rer. Nat. recipients in these fields are scientists and therefore have a STEM doctorate.

Do Honorary Doctorates Count?

Honorary doctorate degrees do not count as STEM Ph.D. degrees for the purpose of immigration. You must formally graduate and be awarded an official STEM Ph.D. to be considered a STEM professional. 

Do You Need To Have a STEM Ph.D.?

Having a STEM Ph.D. increases the chances that you’ll be able to obtain an immigrant visa to the United States, but all doctorate degrees are valid for the EB-1 and EB-2 visa programs. These categories aren’t reserved specifically for people with certain types of doctorate degrees.

Some doctorate degrees are less suited to the demands of the American workforce, like doctorate degrees in areas like philosophy or English literature. You’re less likely to find job offers related to your doctorate degree that would be suited to an immigrant. You’re also less likely to qualify for a National Interest Waiver because the United States has an adequate amount of plenty of other doctorate holders. It’s STEM Ph.D. holders who are in short supply.

What If Your STEM Ph.D. Green Card Petition Is Denied?

If your STEM Ph.D. immigrant visa petition is denied, that means that USCIS has reviewed your petition and determined that you don’t qualify to receive an immigrant visa. 

If you feel USCIS rejected your petition in error, you can work with an immigration lawyer to appeal the decision . Note that appeals are only valid if it can be proven that USCIS made an error. If the decision they made complies with immigration law or policy, the decision cannot be successfully appealed. For example: if your background check yielded unfavorable results that caused USCIS to find you inadmissible, an appeal won’t change your situation. 

Denied applicants are able to apply again, but they’ll have to start the process from scratch. You can’t amend or modify a petition after it’s been filed. You need to file a whole new petition and resubmit your evidence. You’ll also be pushed to the back of the line, which means you’ll need to endure the waiting process from the beginning. 

It’s very important to work with an experienced immigration attorney when filing for an immigrant visa. An experienced attorney will have a thorough understanding of the evidence USCIS is looking for. They’ll also be able to spot errors in your petition that may lead to a denial. A second set of experienced eyes can save you a lot of time by reducing the chances that your petition will be denied.

Getting Legal Assistance With the STEM Ph.D. Green Card Process

Immigrant visas are hard to come by. The criteria for an EB-1A visa can be hard to meet, and the competition for the EB-2 visa can be high. It helps to begin the process with the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer to maximize your chances of successfully obtaining your visa. The legal team at Cohen, Tucker + Ades may be able to help. Contact us for a consultation regarding your STEM Ph.D. green card case.

USCIS Clarifies Guidance for EB-1 Eligibility Criteria | USCIS

Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2 | USCIS

Employment-Based Immigrant Visas | US Department of State | Bureau of Consular Affairs

The expansion of doctoral education and the changing nature and purpose of the doctorate | Higher Education

Not sure which option is right for you? Request a confidential consultation today.

Open Campus

Open Campus

Covering colleges for communities

Green-card exemptions for Ph.D. graduates in science and math

green card for phd student

Legislation fast-tracked in the U.S. House would exempt STEM Ph.D. graduates from green-card caps. It would also toughen international research disclosures, expand foreign-language study, and establish a U.S. alternative to Confucius Institutes. 

What’s in the America COMPETES Act

A U.S. House bill aimed at boosting American competitiveness would exempt STEM Ph.D. graduates from numerical limits on immigrant visas — and require them to pay a supplemental fee to fund scholarships for low-income American students in science and engineering.

The measure would effectively staple a green card to the doctoral diploma of qualifiying international students in STEM, a long-held priority of college groups. The green-card exemption would also extend to immigrants who earn STEM Ph.D.s from foreign universities, if they are equivalent.

The America COMPETES Act is the House counterpart to Senate legislation passed last year aimed at countering Chinese competitiveness. Like the Senate measure, the bill, which could be taken up as soon as this week, contains a number of new reporting requirements for colleges and researchers engaged in international collaborations. It also provides millions in new federal R&D spending, much of which could go to universities.

But the legislation also has some surprising new provisions — for one, it would set up a U.S. government program for the study of Chinese language to replace Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes.

Buried in the 2,912- page bill are a number of provisions that are important to international education. Let’s run through them:

The bill would prohibit federal-grant recipients from participating in “malign” foreign talent recruitment programs, including those sponsored by the governments of China, Iran, and Russia. Researchers and colleges would have to certify that no members of their research team are participants in the programs, which seek to gain expertise by offering foreign researchers stipends and appointments.

Colleges would be required to disclose any foreign grants or contracts of $100,000 or more in one year or $250,000 over three years to the U.S. Department of Education. While the House bill lowers the threshold for annual reporting from the amount in current law, $250,000, the Senate measure went further, mandating disclosure of $50,000 or more from an overseas source.

  • Individual faculty and staff members would be required to report contracts or gifts from foreign entities of $50,000 or more — a new requirement. The bill also spells out processes for both colleges and the Education Department to follow.

The measure would put in place new transparency requirements for Confucius Institutes, the Chinese language and cultural centers. The Education Department, in consultation with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, would review all Confucius Institute agreements to ensure that they protect academic freedom and give full managerial and curricular control to the American partner. Colleges that fail to comply could lose access to federal higher-education funding.

  • This language doesn’t go as far as the Senate bill, which would have barred Education and National Science Foundation funding to colleges that host Confucius Institutes.
  • Nonetheless, the bill’s authors make clear they would like to see alternatives to the centers. The legislation would set up the Liu Xiaobo Fund for the Study of Chinese Language within the U.S. Department of State, named for the Chinese human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner, to fund study of Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese as well as Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, and 24 other contemporary spoken languages of China.
  • It also establishes a new United States-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Foundation to send high school and college students to Taiwan to study Chinese language, culture, and politics. Taiwan has been trying to position itself as an option for Chinese study .

International education programs under Title VI of the Higher Education Act would be reauthorized to increase and expand foreign-language and area studies at American universities. The bill specifically seeks to grow international-education capacity at minority-serving institutions.

Finally, the bill would exempt STEM Ph.D.s (and their spouses and children) from the green-card cap, provided they are planning to work in the United States in a related field.

  • It also would charge them a supplemental fee of $1,000 to go to scholarships to help low-income U.S. students study STEM.

Caveats, caveats. This legislative proposal is just a starting point. It could face opposition, and individual provisions will almost certainly change. More than 500 amendments have been submitted to the House Rules Committee, among them proposals to lower the threshold for universities to report foreign funds, bar colleges with Confucius Institutes from receiving any federal money, and include international graduates in health-related disciplines in the STEM exemption.

A fast track? House leaders have said the bill is a priority, and heading off the economic and innovation threat posed by China is one of the few issues that receives bipartisan agreement these days. Although there are differences between the bills, “the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate will see this thing across the goal line,” Sen. Todd C. Young, the legislation’s top Republican sponsor in the Senate, said last week.

What did I miss? Shoot me an email and let me know if there are provisions I skipped or details I didn’t catch. And please use that address to share any story ideas, feedback, or tips.

China Initiative Round-Up

The FBI’s top expert on research security with China said the agency will shift its strategy on the China Initative, moving away from a prosecutorial approach.

Patrick Shiflett, FBI supervisory intelligence analyst, told a meeting of the American Physical Society that the agency would put more emphasis on using regulations to deal with issues of research security and transparency, rather than going to court.

“We realized our strategy needs to adjust” after listening to feedback from the higher-ed and research communities, he said.

Officials had been signaling in off-the-record comments that the Biden administration would move away from the more-aggressive probe of economic and academic espionage with China, especially after several dismissals and court defeats. But Shiflett spoke in a public forum about the new direction.

However, the FBI expert made clear in his remarks that the FBI continues to have concerns about China’s “abuse of access to the U.S. academic community” to build up its own technological know-how, some of which could benefit the Chinese military.

In other news, a federal judge dealt a blow to the federal government’s case against a University of Kansas professor accused of concealing his ties to China. Judge Julie A. Robinson excluded the testimony of a key government expert saying it could “ color the trial with national-security overtones .” Franklin Tao, she noted, is not charged with espionage or theft of trade secrets, and testimony about broader Chinese government policy raised the “danger of unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, and misleading the jury.”

Robinson wrote that the testimony “also poses a significant risk of stoking Sinophobia, especially given that Defendant, who is Chinese, faces trial amid increasing reports of anti-Asian discrimination and violence since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic — and evoking exactly the kind of negative emotional response that might ‘lure the [jury] into declaring guilt on a ground different from proof specific to the offense charged.’”

And a MIT researcher cleared of China Initiative charges called on faculty and university leaders to “ stand up and speak out ” against the investigations. The probe is “damaging” for research and science, Gang Chen said. “This chilling effect will really hurt everybody.” But Chen says he doesn’t know if he’ll ever feel safe applying for U.S. government research funds again.

Settlement in Fake University Case

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released the details of a proposed legal settlement related to a fake university it set up as part of a student-visa sting operation.

The department is settling a class-action lawsuit brought by former students of the University of Northern New Jersey without admitting wrongdoing. (A judge must still approve the settlement.)

Federal agents set up UNNJ a decade ago as they combatted an outbreak of sham universities that attempted to use the student-visa system as a way to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. Masquerading as representatives of the for-profit institution, agents set up a website — with a Latin motto and campus mascot — and maintained an extensive social-media presence .

It’s not the only such sting — authorities ran a similar phony institution, the University of Farmington .

Officials said they hoped to target brokers and recruiters involved in such “pay to stay” schemes. In 2016, they pulled the plug on UNNJ, arresting 21 people. They also terminated the visas of students at UNNJ for being “fraudulently enrolled.” A group of the students sued, saying Homeland Security didn’t give them the opportunity to appeal their termination.

In the settlement notice , the department denied all allegations of wrongdoing but said it was settling to “avoid the expense and inconvenience of continuing to litigate the case.”

Under the settlement, the government would, among other actions:

  • Not use UNNJ enrollment as a criteria to find people inadmissable to the U.S. or deportable;
  • Not deny future immigration benefits based on UNNJ enrollment;
  • Move to dismiss removal proceedings; and
  • Permit UNNJ students to apply for reinstatement to student status if they are admitted to a new college and meet other requirements.

Share this newsletter with colleagues and friends interested in international ed, and encourage them to subscribe .

Around the Globe

The College Board will roll out the new digital SAT first at international testing sites.

The State Department plans to hire dozens of foreign service officers to help deal with a visa processing backlog . 

One student was killed and three others were wounded when a fellow student opened fire in a lecture hall at a German university.

Brazil, Ghana, and Turkey are among the “next frontiers” for international-student recruitment, according to a report from Studyportals and Unibuddy.

The UK met its foreign-enrollment targets a decade ahead of schedule.

British universities could be hit with 10 days of walkouts next month over pay and pensions. 

Female students in Morocco have flooded social media with stories about professors pressuring them for sexual favors in exchange for good grades after a high-profile conviction.

An Australian premier reversed course and allowed international students left in limbo to return to classes after quarantining.

A Dutch university said it would return funds it had received from a Chinese law center that had denied Chinese government human-rights violations against ethnic minorities.

China has advanced on a pair of global rankings while fewer U.S. universities make the cut, according to a new analysis from Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

The job market for new college graduates in China is getting tougher.

About a quarter of respondents in the latest Diversity Abroad survey of international-education professionals identified as a member of a historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group. 

Six CUNY professors are suing their local union after it passed a resolution supporting the Palestinian people.

New podcast alert! Global Scholar Stories is from the Journal of International Students . 

Want more global news? Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn .

And finally…

Here’s a fun international-ed-related question:

If you could snap and learn a world language, which one would it be? I’d probably pick Japanese or French. — Mohamed Abdel-Kader (@MAKtweeter) January 24, 2022

My tongue-in-cheeck answer would be to learn German — with a name like Karin Fischer, I always disappoint German-speakers with my lack of linguistic ability. My honest-to-god answer would to be truly proficient in Chinese. Alas…

What about you? If the foreign-languages fairy could give you sudden fluency, what language would you pick?

’Til next week —Karin

Karin Fischer

A freelance journalist and expert on global issues in higher ed, Karin has been writing for more than a decade about the changing relationship between American colleges and the world. More by Karin Fischer

Herman Legal Group Logo

H-1B for PhD Holders and Students

The H-1B is one of the most popular employment-based visas among future workers pursuing higher education, but due to its high demand, it can be challenging for foreign students to get it. So, if you like many other foreign students and foreign workers have at least bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, you might be asking whether it is easier to get an H-1B for PhD holders and students.

To answer some of your questions, we’ll go over the H-1B process and emphasize the areas where having a PhD may give you the competitive edge you need to work in the U.S.

H-1B For International Students and PhD holders

If you are a PhD holder or student considering getting an H-1B visa, here is a basic overview of the application process.

The H-1B visa is designed for international students and workers with specialty occupations. To be considered eligible, a foreign national must have a job offer from a U.S. employer for a specialty position and at least a bachelor’s degree and a higher degree in a related field.

What you need to know is that foreign nationals cannot self-petition for an H-1B visa for PhD holders. Instead, the US employer needs to offer you a job and file the H-1B petition on your behalf, and get a Labor Condition Application .

Labor Condition Application LCA

The latter form for LCA is filed with the Department of Labor and ensures that your employer will pay at least the prevailing wage. Also, the employer attests to the Department of Labor that hiring you will not adversely affect other employees that currently work for the sponsoring company.

H-1B Lottery

The sponsoring employer cannot file I-129 form until April 1st of the year that the foreign national intends to work. Upon correctly filing the petition, it will be entered into a pool from which 85,000 will be randomly chosen in the H-1B visa lottery.

The 85,000 is the annual H-1B limit per fiscal year where the 65,000 is for the regular cap and the 20,000 is subject to cap-exempt petitions (for H-1B visa holders holding a master’s degree or higher from a US university).

There has been many controversials about the H-1B process. While Trump administration intended to end the H-1B lottery, but was forced to change its policies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security DOL announced an interim final rule (IFR) that strengthens the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program in order to protect U.S. workers and citizens.

H-1B Processing

If the filed H-1B petition is selected, it will go on to processing. The processing may take up to six or seven months, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS offers an optional service called premium processing .

If you choose the premium processing, USCIS will process your application within 15 days. Once your petition is approved, you will be able to start working as an H-1B nonimmigrant on October 1st of that current year.

H-1B Rules for PhD Holders

The H-1B visa process for PhD holders is not always different from the process for other international students and international workers.

Still, you will see that you have an advantage in the lottery as a PhD holder. As we mentioned previously, your petition will be cap-exempt.

The reason is that the H-1B lottery is divided into two stages:

  • The advanced degree cap
  • The regular cap.

The USCIS will select 20,000 petitions for petitioners that obtained advanced degrees. H-1b petitions for advanced degrees that USICS hasn’t selected in the first phase will be re-entered into the regular cap. This way, you will have a second chance at being selected.

There have been various proposed rule changes and legislation affecting H-1B visas. But for our topic, the most important is Congress’s consideration to exempt foreign-born PhD degree holders from the annual quota.

For this purpose, the Stopping Trained in America PhDs from Leaving the Economy (STAPLE) Act is designed.

Stopping Trained in America PhDs from Leaving the Economy or the Staple act makes significant steps in retaining foreign workers who earned their PhD degrees in the US universities and now seek jobs in the U.S..

A bill seeks exemption for foreign-born professionals with a PhD in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics, from an institution that qualifies as a United States institution of higher education, from the cap limit on the number of employment-based green cards and H-1-B visas annually.

Trained in America PhDs from Leaving the Economy (STAPLE) Act will have the highest benefit for Indian students, which constitute the most significant number of students doing PhD and pursuing STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in the U.S.

Thousands of high-skilled jobs are going unfilled in the U.S., and the STAPLE Act would ensure American companies hire the most talented foreign nationals on H-1B visas. By stapling a green card or visa to the PhD diplomas, foreign professionals can remain in the U.S. working for the U.S. employers, invent and inovate new discoveries while contributing to the U.S. economy growth.

Employment-Based Green Cards

If you consider getting the H-1B visa, you may find it is not as easy to obtain your employment-based green card as you thought it would be as a PhD student. As for all other petitioners, there is a lot of paperwork to go through, many rules to follow, and many categorizing to do.

If you don’t know precisely what you are supposed to do to get your PhD green card, here is the short overview.

Can An International student Get Green Card After PhD?

The short answer is YES- a PhD student may apply for a green card!

But, to obtain a green card with your advanced degree, you will have to prove that there is a good reason to be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Here is a short guide on how a student may apply for a green card.

The EB-1 green card is at the top of preferences and one of the most popular options for obtaining permanent residence as a PhD student or holder.

If you are eligible for the EB-1, you will no longer need your sponsoring employer to undergo the PERM process. The EB-1 is divided into three categories:

  • EB-1C, which

EB-1A and EB-1B are for students and PhD holders, while EB-1C is intended for higher roles in multinational companies such as executives and managers.

This option is intended for those who show extraordinary talent and achievements in various areas (arts, science, business, athletics, etc.).

This one is designed for professors and outstanding researchers. Compared to the previous one, the EB-1A, this one tackles a much narrower group, but, the requirements that petitioners have to meet are not as high.


To prove your eligibility, you should provide the required documentation demonstrating that you are useful in the related field and have the awards necessary to do so.

Don’t get confused– you do not necessarily need the actual PhD. You only have to prove that your work is influential and useful in your field .

Required Documents

To apply for a PhD green card, you must submit specific documentation, depending on the type of green card you want to apply for.

If you chose the EB-1A:

  • An award showing that you got national or international recognition.
  • Scholarly articles published in a trade or professional journal.
  • Evidence of significant contribution in regards to your practice.
  • Material written by others detailing your abilities.
  • Playing a crucial role in a recognized organization.
  • Evidence that you are a member of an association/organization that requires the member to have extraordinary abilities.
  • Having experience as a judge of the work provided by other people working in a related field.
  • Having a fairly large salary indicating your competence in the field.

Do PhD Holders Have Other Options?

You may assume that the H-1B might seem like the ideal visa for PhD holders, except for the relatively small chance of being selected in the random selection process. This, surely, can be an obstacle forcing you to think about other solutions.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that you can consider.

The J-1 is program-based, meaning that your sponsor can be an educational or research entity that is especially useful for PhD students. But, this visa has the home residency requirement meaning that after your stay in the U.S., you must return to your home country and spend a minimum of two years there. Upon expiration of this period, you may re-enter for another visa or lawful permanent residence. Although, some petitioners can get a J-1 visa waiver.

O-1 is a dual intent visa reserved for foreign nationals with extraordinary achievements in specific fields provided on a USCIS list of evidence that can demonstrate your achievement.

The main benefit of this visa is that it can be renewed indefinitely.

F-1 is a student visa usually used by international students who want to pursue PhD at U.S. universities. Once obtained, the visa is valid for a certain time after your graduation, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees holders may stay longer.

How An Attorney Providing Immigration Services Can Help You?

U.S. immigration law provides a lot of opportunities for foreigners, but it is complex and the smallest mistake could cost you losing your opportunity to get the desired visa.

Although an attorney cannot guarantee success in the way you may think, it is highly important to hire an experienced immigration attorney who will handle your case, and give you the best legal advice according to your personal situation.

Seek out counsel from the Herman Legal Group , a law firm with over 25 years of experience in representing individuals, families, and companies in all aspects of immigration law, in all 50 states and around the world.

Schedule a personal consultation with Attorney Richard Herman by calling 1-216-696-6170 , or by booking online .  Consultations can be conducted by zoom, skype, whatsapp, facetime, or in-office.

At Herman Legal Group, Your Future Matters Most Call now to request a consultation

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Related posts.

H1B for Consultant: Requirements, Data, Processing

H1B for Consultant: Requirements, Data, Processing

Project Manager H1B Visa Approval, Requirements, Processing

Project Manager H1B Visa Approval, Requirements, Processing

Unlocking the Secrets of the H1B for Developers

Unlocking the Secrets of the H1B for Developers

Sample K-1 Declaration: Letter of Intent to Marry Within 90 Days

Sample K-1 Declaration: Letter of Intent to Marry Within 90 Days

Perm Denial Without Audit: Reasons For Denial

Perm Denial Without Audit: Reasons For Denial

Skype Consultation (10 minutes)

[contact-form-7 id=”23665″ title=”Skype Consultation”]

Apply for Spanish-Speaking Paralegal

[contact-form-7 id=”38233″ title=”Apply Spanish-Speaking Paralegal”]

Document Review Skype Consultation (One Hour)

[contact-form-7 id=”23670″ title=”Document Review Skype Consultation”]

Strategy Skype Consultation (One Hour)

[contact-form-7 id=”23668″ title=”Strategy Skype Consultation”]


  1. Path To A Green Card For PhD Students In The United States

    green card for phd student

  2. How To Get A Green Card After Completing Your PhD

    green card for phd student

  3. Guide to PhD Green Card Via EB-1

    green card for phd student

  4. Green cards for STEM PhDs?

    green card for phd student

  5. How To Get A Green Card After Completing Your PhD

    green card for phd student

  6. Can a PhD student apply for green card?

    green card for phd student


  1. How to get a Green Card through the least expensive option after Graduation

  2. Get A Free Virtual Credit Card With These 2 Apps!

  3. ANBERNIC RG351MP RG350M Retro Game Console PS1 RK3326 Player Aluminum Alloy Shell

  4. আমেরিকায় কিভাবে গ্রীনকার্ড পাওয়া যায়। Green Card for Bangladeshi International Student in USA

  5. Duolingo English Test Format 2023

  6. The Binding of Isaac


  1. Guide to PhD Green Card Via EB-1 | VisaNation

    The EB-1 green card process for a Ph.D. visa USA is almost identical to other employment-based green cards. The significant difference is that you don’t need to undergo the PERM Labor Certification Process. And if you qualify for the EB-1A, you will also have the luxury of filing your petition yourself.

  2. How to Get a Green Card While Studying for a PhD - Stilt

    At a Glance: PhD students can apply for a green card by meeting certain requirements. The EB-1 category is popular for PhD holders, with options like EB-1A for extraordinary talent and achievements, and EB-1B for professors and outstanding researchers. Eligibility is based on proving significant contributions and useful work in the field.

  3. Fast Track Your Green Card: How a PhD Accelerates Your ...

    Not only did a PhD open doors of opportunity, but it also expedited my immigration journey through EB1-B (a category reserved exclusively for Researchers and Professors), saving me 50+ years of my life. How exactly does a PhD help you qualify for the EB1 category? 1. A PhD helps you identify your field of expertise

  4. Immigrant Pathways for STEM Employment in the United States

    中文. 한국어. Immigrant pathways offer opportunities to work in the United States for a range of reasons on a more permanent basis. They provide lawful permanent residence (Green Card), which can eventually lead to U.S. citizenship. The lawful permanent resident process involves two or three steps, depending on the employment-based ...

  5. How International PhDs Get Green Cards - 5 Q's Answererd

    When filing separately, you’re looking at the 5-9 month window for the I140 and after that, you have to file the I45 and it could be anywhere from another 7-10 months to get the green card. So you’re going to save time if you file them together, but sometimes you have to be risk-free and file them separately. 5.

  6. Immigration Paths for Scientific Researchers in the U.S ...

    A green card gives you a permanent lawful status in the U.S. and a path to citizenship. There are two main paths to get a green card (also known as “lawful permanent resident” status): 1) EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) or NIW (National Interest Waiver) Petitions and 2) the PERM labor certification process. EB-1A and NIW Green Card Petitions.

  7. The STEM PHD Green Card Explained - Cohen, Tucker & Ades P.C.

    Students in the United States can have difficulty applying for green cards with employer sponsorship while on a student visa. A new provision would allow for “dual intent,” which allows students to have both immigrant and nonimmigrant intent, which ultimately makes it easier to be sponsored for a green card by an employer in a STEM field.

  8. Green-card exemptions for Ph.D. graduates in science and math

    The bill specifically seeks to grow international-education capacity at minority-serving institutions. Finally, the bill would exempt STEM Ph.D.s (and their spouses and children) from the green-card cap, provided they are planning to work in the United States in a related field. It also would charge them a supplemental fee of $1,000 to go to ...

  9. H-1B for PhD Holders and Students - Herman Legal Group

    The EB-1 green card is at the top of preferences and one of the most popular options for obtaining permanent residence as a PhD student or holder. If you are eligible for the EB-1, you will no longer need your sponsoring employer to undergo the PERM process. The EB-1 is divided into three categories: EB-1A. EB-1B.

  10. New research argues for need to streamline green card process ...

    International students who earn Ph.Ds. in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields from American research universities often take an “inefficient pathway” to permanent residency in the United States, two researchers argue in a new article published in Science that bolsters President Biden’s case for making it easier for STEM Ph.D.s to get green cards granting them ...