Indian F1 student’s Path to US green card is 200+ years. Rebirth Required!

Path from F1 to US green card for an Indian is 2-200+ years. US immigration runs on country of birth restrictions. Make plans to avoid surprises later.

Written by AM22Tech Team
  AM22Tech Team    Updated 30 Aug, 23

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A new year and a new season for universities to attract international students in the US.

The US embassy also helps arrange counseling sessions for aspiring students in India on a large scale. They have even started setting up video discussions with YouTube influencers to help create a rosy picture.

This is what everyone knows but we will cover the other and ugly side of US F1 visa to green card specifically for Indian students.

It’s not an easy path.

#1 Leave US after F1 Study Completion

First and foremost, the F1 visa does not allow immigration intent; meaning that you cannot plan to stay in the US once your studies are complete.

As per law, your intentions should be to study and leave.

The contradiction is that US immigration law does allow you to apply for a work visa like H1B once you have completed your studies.

Most people do it but you can’t plan for it at the time of F1 application.

Even if you wish for it in your dreams to get a job (via work visa) in the US after your studies, do not share this dream with the visa officer.

If the visa officer can gauge your plan to work and stay back in America, they will deny your F1 citing your intentions. This is called 214b denial.

If you made it to the US, congratulations. Now, is the time to think of the next step i.e. how to pay back the education loan.

Of course, you will need to get a decent job based on your talent and skills.

But, wait, skills and education are secondary. The first step is to find an employer and then pray for good luck in the H1B lottery.

#2 Getting H1B work permit

H1B work visa is one of the limited options to work in the US in the skilled category.

It is the subject of political debate in every presidential election as one side claims that H1B workers are low-skilled and take away American jobs.

That’s why they have only 85k H1B visas for a full year. Since that’s the only realistic way of getting a job in the USA, it is oversubscribed every year by over 400%.

To select the winners, they run a random lottery to select applications. Note, that no interview, education, or skills are counted while running this lottery.

Your chances of getting selected are purely random and if you are that one lucky Indian, the race to the next step will start.

The H1B work permit is temporary and is only for a maximum term of 6 years.

If you want to stay in the US beyond 6 years, you should get a green card (permanent residence).

Made it to this point? Good. Now starts the real professional World Cup cricket match.

#3 Join Green Card for Indian – 200-year wait

Yes, you read it right. Not 10, 100; 200 years is the estimate today.

You can get an estimate for yourself by entering a tentative date that you expect to start your green card process as the priority date in this app. It will give you an estimated date of when you can expect your green card.

The fact is that as an Indian, you will never get a US green card in this lifetime if you join the employment-based green card queue today.

Don’t just believe my words, follow the research papers published by CATO Institute. They estimate that 95% of Indians will die before they get to see their green card.

There are of course exceptions and different paths to a USA green card and I am sharing them here for the sake of balancing the argument.

Exceptions for an Indian to get a Green Card

  • Marry a US citizen (1-2 year wait)
    • Leave your girlfriend in India. Don’t make any promises to get married!
    • Make a US citizen friend if you plan to get married. That’s the easiest path.
  • Marry a Non-Indian, Non-Chinese, Non-Philipines (2-5 year wait)
    • Marry someone from a country whose Green card queue is not backlogged and you will be counted in that queue.
  • US citizen kid (21+ year wait)
    • Have a kid in the US so that they can sponsor your GC when they turn 21.
    • Yes, they can sponsor you (as a parent of a US citizen) in the family category.
  • EB1 queue (2-10+ year wait, slowing and will keep slowing every passing day)
    • This is normally called the Einstein queue but with the exception of EB1C.
    • EB1C is for international managers who are considered equivalent to Olympic players or Einstein.
    • To get into this queue, which is a little faster than other queues (EB2 and EB3), you should work outside the USA (like India) as an executive manager for at least 1 year.
    • This queue is also filling faster and wait times are increasing every year just because every other queue is extremely backlogged.
  • EB5 Investment queue (2-7+ year wait, slowing and will keep slowing every passing day)
    • This queue is backlogged by 6 years for Indians.
    • The funds for EB5 investment should be legally earned.
    • It’s growing too and many are demotivated to invest 800k and then wait for 5 years to see the green card.

Do you know of more exceptions? Do share them in the comments and we will add them here.

We are making an effort to inform Indian students of their future. No one in India tells them the real story.

Until universities and businesses get affected, they won’t lobby for changing the law and Indians will keep suffering.


Will US Immigration Law Change or Hearts Will Melt?

Nobody knows when the law will be updated to cater to 21st-century needs.

It hasn’t been changed meaningfully in the last 37 years.
No politician’s heart has melted in the last 15 years.

Multiple H1B primary spouses have died waiting for 10+ years, been in the news, TV everywhere but nothing changed.

H4 spouses cannot work until a stage where the i140 is approved.

Even when an H4 spouse can work using a work permit called EAD, renewals are a pain.

Least preference is given to H1B and H4 while making rules or changes to the law as it is a sensitive issue in politics. You will feel it at every step once you are there.

Why is Indian EB2 and EB3 So Backlogged?

Most people file green cards in EB2 (Master’s degree) or EB3 (Bachelor or lower degree).

Indians are no different but they don’t have green cards because the US only allows 7% of total green cards to be given to any one country. Other nationals get it within 1 year!!

There have been protests and several efforts have been made in the past 15 years to remove this country of birth restrictions but none has yielded any result.

Everything else is backlogged to such an extent that realistically there is no path from F1 to a Green card for an Indian who does not fall in the exceptions mentioned above.

Most Indians are half attorneys themselves. We suggest to start learning US immigration law right from the day your F1 visa is approved.

Have questions and doubts about how to plan a US green card through an F1 visa?

Ask in the comments and we will answer to the best of our knowledge.


Written by AM22Tech Team
  AM22Tech Team