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  4.  » Four paths to obtain access to the United States

Many factors influence residents’ ability to enter the United States, but one of the largest indicators for access to America is the level of education an applicant has.

According to a Pew Research Center report, the United States accepted 14.7 million immigrants over the age of 25 with a college diploma. The U.S. has more college-educated immigrants than Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany combined.

However, college-educated immigrants only represent a third of the foreign-born population in the United States. President Donald Trump wants to increase immigration for highly skilled people by implementing multiple avenues for college-educated immigrants to enter the states.

H-1B visas

The largest visa program is the H-1B program, which offers temporary employment visas to foreign-born workers with specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher. American employers often rely on H-1B visas to bring unique individuals from other countries into the U.S.

The visa allows employees to stay up to six years and may be renewed if the visa holder is pending permanent residency in the U.S. But applications skyrocketed during the last four years to the point where about a third of applicants receive visas due to an annual cap of 65,000 visas.

F-1 visa

F-1 visas are common for immigrants seeking higher education in America and allow residents to seek an associate, bachelors, masters or a doctoral degree. Similar to the H-1B visa, the U.S. sees an increase in applications every year, from 138,000 in 2004 to 364,000 in 2016.

However, there is not a specific cap for F-1 visas like there is for the H-1B program – which allows more applicants to attend American colleges and universities.

Optional Practical Training

An excellent option for international students is the OPT program, which allows full-time students at American colleges to remain in the country temporarily to gain work experience. Examples include internships, entry-level positions, etc.

The employer does not have to sponsor you like the H-1B visa, but the program is significantly shorter. Participants may remain in the states for 12 months after graduation and extend to a maximum of 36 months if they have a STEM degree.

Green cards

One of the most popular forms of immigration is using a green card or a permanent residency. Green cards allow immigrants to live and work in the United States without special requirements, like visa programs.

However, they apply to anyone who wants to live in the United States. You do not need a college education or special skills to apply for permanent residency. It makes the competition higher for immigrants without family members in the states or seeking asylum.