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How can highly skilled immigrants lawfully work in Kentucky?

Immigration Services

Many foreign-born people working in Kentucky and across the United States have a college degree. There are four common ways a person from another nation can lawfully reside in the U.S. They could obtain a H-1b visa, an F-1 visa, a green card or through the Optional Practical Training program.

An H-1B visa can allow a person born in another country who has a bachelor's degree or higher and specialized knowledge to temporarily work in the U.S. These visas are granted to employers, not the person. There is a cap on how many H-1B visas will be approved annually, and they are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. An H-1B visa allows a foreign-born worker to reside in the U.S. for six years, and it can be renewed if the worker is awaiting approval for permanent residency status.

An F-1 visa is granted to students who are pursuing a college degree. It allows them to reside in the U.S. and work part-time while they are pursuing higher education. This includes not just bachelor's degrees but also graduate-level degrees.

A person born in another country can also seek a green card that would allow them to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Green cards can be granted to anyone seeking U.S. permanent residency, not just those with a degree in higher education. Some people enter the U.S. via a H-1B visa and then apply for a green card.

Finally, under the OPT program, full-time students at institutes of higher education can temporarily stay in the U.S. upon graduation to gain work experience. They do not require a sponsor and there is no cap on how many people can reside in the U.S. under the OPT program. However, a person can only stay in the nation through the OPT program for either one year from the date they graduated or four years if a person's degree is in the field of science, technology, engineering or math.

These are only some ways a foreign-born person can reside and work in the U.S. There are many important steps to take if you are seeking a visa or green card, or if you are acting as a sponsor for someone seeking a visa or green card. Some people find it helpful to seek legal guidance in such matters, so they understand what is required of them.

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