Mar 02 2023

Comparing Green Card Opportunities for STEM and Non-STEM Graduates in the US

Mina Prota

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For international students seeking to study in the United States, the opportunity to obtain a green card and potentially stay in the country after graduation is an important consideration. While pursuing a degree in a STEM field can provide more opportunities for obtaining a green card, non-STEM programs can still offer a pathway to residency in the US. In this blog, we'll compare the opportunities to obtain a green card in the US between studying STEM and non-STEM programs.


STEM Programs


STEM programs, which include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, are highly encouraged by the US government, as they are seen as critical to the country's economic growth and development. As a result, international students studying in STEM fields have more opportunities to obtain a green card and stay in the US after graduation.


One of the most significant benefits of studying STEM is the opportunity to apply for the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows students to work in the US for an additional 24 months after completing their degree. This extension can be a valuable opportunity for STEM students to gain work experience, earn money, and potentially find an employer willing to sponsor their green card application.


In addition, STEM graduates are also eligible to apply for the H-1B visa, which allows foreign workers to stay and work in the US for up to six years. The H-1B visa is typically sponsored by employers, and having a STEM degree can make international students more attractive to potential sponsors.


Non-STEM Programs


While studying a non-STEM program may not offer as many opportunities to obtain a green card as STEM programs, there are still pathways available to international students. Graduates with degrees in non-STEM fields can apply for the regular OPT program, which allows them to work in the US for up to 12 months after graduation. While this may be a shorter period than the STEM OPT extension, it can still provide valuable work experience and potentially lead to employer sponsorship for a green card.


Non-STEM graduates can also explore other visa options, such as the H-1B visa or the O-1 visa, which is available to individuals with extraordinary ability in their field, including the arts, business, athletics, and sciences.


Another option for non-STEM graduates is the EB-2 visa, which is reserved for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field. While this option may require more qualifications and documentation, it can be a viable option for non-STEM graduates who have excelled in their field and can demonstrate exceptional ability.




In summary, studying a STEM program can provide more opportunities for international students to obtain a green card and stay in the US after graduation. The STEM OPT extension and H-1B visa are valuable options for STEM graduates, and employers are often willing to sponsor green cards for these individuals. However, non-STEM graduates can still explore various options, such as the regular OPT program, the H-1B visa, the O-1 visa, or the EB-2 visa, to potentially obtain a green card.


Ultimately, the most important factor in obtaining a green card is demonstrating exceptional skills and abilities in your field, as well as a strong commitment to contributing to the US economy and society. Whether you choose to study STEM or non-STEM, it's essential to excel in your program, gain valuable work experience, and maintain a positive reputation in your industry. By doing so, you can increase your chances of obtaining a green card and realizing your dreams of staying in the US.

Tags: green card, STEM, non-STEM, OPT, H-1B, O-1, EB-2, international students, US residency, US immigration