If you’re an international student who wants to call the United States home after graduation, there are a couple of ways your career can help you get a green card.
Here’s how the job you choose to pursue or a job offer can lead to a permanent resident card.
Green card through a special job category
You may be able to secure a green card if you work in a very specific job field. But, first a cautionary note: most of these jobs are fairly niche. For example, the broadcaster category is capped at 100 per year.
Also, the green card and visa processes vary in the amount of time they take. You can track your case here if you’ve already applied. Also, the Department of State Visa Bulletin shows the waiting times for obtaining visa through family and employment preference categories. It’s updated monthly and you can find it here.
However, these are the special jobs that could qualify you for a green card. To find out more about the process, follow the link for the job description, which will show you the forms that you need as well as the the supporting evidence you’ll need to gather to apply. Note: The process can differ if you live outside of the United States as you’ll start with a visa before getting a green card.
- Afghan/Iraqi translator: If you’ve served the U.S. government in this capacity, you may qualify for a special immigrant visa.
- Armed forces member: Some individuals who have served, or are serving, in the U.S. Armed Forces might qualify for a green card.
- Broadcaster: Those who are a part of the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors may apply for permanent residence. Broadcasters can include reporters, writers, translators, editors, producers, announcers, news broadcast host, news analysis or other broadcasting jobs.
- International organization employee: If you work for embassies, consulates, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT) or another international organization, you can apply for a green card.
- Iraqi who assisted the U.S. government: The National Defense Authorization Act allows for special immigration status for Iraqi nationals who have been employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq after March 20, 2003 for at least a year. Only 5,000 people a year can qualify for this special immigrant status.
- Afghan who assisted the U.S. government: This allowance for Afghans who were employed by the International Security Assistance Force is allowed through the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009.
- NATO-6 non-immigrant: Certain individuals who entered the United States as civilian NATO employees, along with their unmarried children, are allowed to apply for permanent residency.
- Panama Canal employee: If you’ve worked in the Panama Canal Company, the Canal Zone Government or the United States Government in the Canal Zone, you are eligible to apply for a green card.
- Physician national interest waiver: If you’re a physician, you must agree to work full-time in a clinical practice. For most of these waivers, the required period of service is five years. Another requirement? You must work in primary care, like a pediatrician or family practice doctor, or be a speciality physician. Or, you must serve in a Health Professional Shortage Area, Mental Health Professional Area, a Medically Underserved Area, or a Veterans Affairs facility.
- Religious worker: A congressional amendment allows for a special immigrant status for ministers and others in religious job fields.
Green card through a job offer
You can also apply for a green card based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States. This can oftentimes be a more efficient way to acquire a green card because employers have legal and financial resources to make the process more smooth.
Most employment petitions require a job offer and that the employer petitions for the worker. Here’s more information about the process for obtaining a green card through a job offer, including the application processes which differ depending on whether you’re living in the United States.
If you’re a college student and want to go this route, it’s a great idea to align your major with one of the top jobs that can lead to a green card offer.
In 2016, these were the Top 10 jobs for green cards.
Software developers, applications – average annual salary, $107,861
Computer Systems Analysts – average annual salary, $103,673
Software Developers, systems software – average annual salary, $127,604
Electronics engineers – average annual salary $118,070
Computer and information systems managers – average annual salary $144,949
Computer systems analysts – average annual salary, $81,845
Network and computer systems administrators – average annual salary, $96,384
Accountants and auditors – average annual salary, $83,210
Software developer, applications – average annual salary, $101,205
Mechanical engineers – average annual salary, $91,947