If you’re a student studying abroad in the U.S, it’s already been a long process to get where you are. From international student loans and scholarships to adjusting to a new country, the journey is long and frustrating. 

Unfortunately though, if you want to stay in the U.S after graduation, the process is really just beginning. Getting a green card or obtaining U.S citizenship is extremely difficult these days and it’s getting more so every day. 

Still, there are a number of ways to obtain a green card after you graduate, from the annual Diversity Visa lottery to investing in an American company. So have no fear, your time in the states isn’t over until you’ve exhausted all your green card and visa options. 

Diversity Visa Lottery

Getting selected for the Diversity Visa lottery is one of the most unlikely ways to stay in the U.S legally, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the shot. 50,000 people are selected annually for visas through the Diversity Visa lottery.

This is an easy way to get a chance, however slim, at a legal spot in the States. All you need to do is submit a Diversity Visa application using Form DS-260

The lottery for green cards starting in 2021 began on October 2, 2019, and ended on November 5, 2019. So remember, to have your application ready by this fall if you want to be selected for a Visa that begins in 2022. 

Get Sponsored By A Spouse or Relative

Relatives of U.S citizens or green card holders may also be eligible to receive a green card if certain conditions are met. If you are the spouse, unmarried child (under the age of 21), unmarried stepchild (under the age of 21), adopted child (under the age of 18), parent, stepparent, brother, sister, unmarried son or daughter (over the age of 21), or married son or daughter(any age), then you may be eligible for a visa through the U.S program for immigrant families. 

Sometimes navigating the visa process can be confusing, however, especially when it comes to getting a visa through your spouse or relative. If you are having trouble with the process, you might consider contacting an immigration lawyer. Even if you don’t have the funds for a lawyer, I suggest looking at some of the information on their websites.

For example, Visapro.com has a great list of resources for immigrants looking to get their green cards or visas. 

Get Sponsored By Your U.S Based Employer

Getting sponsored by your employer after graduation is without a doubt the easiest way to obtain your green card. 

Getting an employment-based green card or visa can take time, however. The average applicant waits over three months for their case to be reviewed, and after that many are faced with visa audits that can extend the process for months. 

Even worse, many international student college grads struggle to find employment in the states post-graduation, because not every employer is willing to go through the visa process. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t be afraid to reach out to a local staffing agency and express your interest. 

Once you’re hired your employer can also give you more than just a green card. After a number of months employed. The Form I-140 application allows employers to sponsor green card holders for permanent citizenship. 

Invest $1,000,000 In The American Economy 

For students who have some financial backing, there is another option to stay in the U.S legally.

Foreign entrepreneurs who invest at least $1,000,000 in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs are eligible for a visa that will last up to 10 years. 

In the states, it pays to have money. So if you’re looking to stay in the states after graduation and you have the money, why not invest?

Become A Religious Worker

The final way you can get a visa to come to the U.S is by becoming a religious worker. Ministers, priests, nuns, rabbis, ordained deacons and monks authorized by recognized religious organizations to conduct religious activities are able to receive visas to stay in the U.S for a limited time. 

However, these visas are some of the easiest to extend, so if you are a religious worker, take advantage of this offer from the government. 

Getting a green card or visa in the U.S isn’t easy. The reality is the majority of applicants won’t be able to secure a spot. Unfortunately, status and money still play the most important role in whether or not you will be selected for a visa. 

 Still, there are a number of methods that are well worth the shot, no matter your financial status, so don’t give up!