Sure, the U.S. Green Card gets you on the road to U.S. citizenship, but the Green Card isn’t a highly coveted document just because it gets you on your way to naturalization: As a permanent resident, you already enjoy official inclusion into American society. Since you have chosen to make the U.S. your permanent residence, you are protected under U.S. laws and have most legal rights of citizens. You can live, work, and buy property in the U.S. with hardly any restrictions.
Not everyone can get a U.S. Green Card. Current immigration law is set up to benefit immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The other common method of obtaining a Green Card is through employment, but those Green Cards are not as readily available as Green Cards for immediate family members.
If you are interested in working in the U.S. but are not eligible for an employment green card and cannot become a permanent worker, you could work as a temporary worker. Here are three options:
- The Optional Practical Training (OPT) can be yours if you are on a student visa, F-1, and in a highly-skilled field. The OPT allows you to work for 12 months gaining practical training either before or after the completion of your studies.
- The H-1B Visa can be yours if you are in a specialty occupation, are in Department of Defense cooperative research, or are a fashion model. As an H-1B visa holder, you are eligible to stay in the U.S. for a period of up to three years.
- The TN NAFTA Professional classification can be yours if you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico, your profession qualifies under specific regulations and the position you will have in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional.
Dual Intent allows you to apply for a Green Card while on a temporary status. Out of the three above, the H-1B visa is the only one that allows for Dual Intent. A family-based Green Card petition, Form I-130, would cause a conflict with OPT or TN, but not with the H-1B.