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I live in Uruguay and I graduated from college in Dec 2013 (Computer Science degree). I've had the idea of living in the USA for quite some time, and now I'm facing the problem of finding out what is the best way to obtain a resident card. I think there are at least 3 ways in which I could try to get one. Next I'll describe what I thought, I hope you can provide more information based on your experience!

1. Student Visa

I'm applying to study a master at the end of this year (2015). If I get accepted and I get my student visa I think it will be possible for me to apply for a resident card later on while living there.

Is it possible to apply for a resident card being a student or should I work for some years before?

How difficult is it to be approved and how much time should pass before I can apply for one?

2. Family-Sponsored Visa (FB4 + FB1)

I have relatives (1 uncle from Uruguay, 1 aunt from Uruguay, and 3 American cousins) that have been living there for 20 years. I suppose that my father can apply for a visa (FB4) and then I can apply for one too (FB1). That would allow me to travel to the US and get a resident card immediately, but I think the process is slow and it could easily take 10 years (based on the last prediction bulletin).

Would wait this long give me any advantages?

Should I start that process as soon as possible?

3. Diversity Lottery

I just learnt that the US gives away 50,000 green cards a year! Sadly, the deadline to apply for DV-2016 has already passed (Nov 2014) and I read that it could have been the last lottery of its kind.

To be honest I think I have more chances to get a diversity visa if the new merit-based system is accepted, but it seems it'll not be available until 2017 if this ever happens.

Do you know if there will be a DV-2017 lottery (ie, a lottery this year, 2015)?

Is there any problem if I apply to DV-2017 and I travel to the USA using a student visa?


I'm not familiar with all the possible ways to get a green card, if you know any other not listed above please feel free to tell me about it!

Thank you!


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no for 1 and 2

the reason for a student visa is to study and return to Uruguay, student visa is a non immigrating visa, meaning there is no way to immigrate and you are required to show proof that you will return to you country

for family petition, the wait will be 20 + years

first, your dad's brother will have to file for him for a GC to live in the US, siblings petitions take over 12 years, once your dad comes to live to the US, he can petition you if you are unmarried, the wait is over 7 years and all these 20 years you must remain unmarried

for the last one you can try lotto visa if your country qualifies, I don't know that one

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Let's clarify some of your misconceptions.

1. You can not get permanent residency on a student visa. A foreign student visa applicant MUST have proof of a home to return to after completing his studies. Also, a student visa does not allow you to work after graduation. You must prove you have the money to live and go to school in the U.S.; you can not come here to work to pay for it. This is neither a direct path to working or living in the U.S. permanently.

2. This is how this will work. 12+ years for your father's sibling to bring him to the U.S. Then it's 8 more years if you are single. 17+ years if you are married. Total wait for you is at least 20+ years. There is no faster way through your family.

3. DV-2016 is not the last. You can apply for DV-2017 in October 2016. Chances are low since lots of people like you want to move to the U.S.

The DV is your best chance of living in the U.S. unless you have a U.S. fiancée.

Best of luck.

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Next period for DV lottery (DV2017) will start October/November 2015, not 2016.

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Thanks for your opinions! I want to make clear some things.

1. Regarding me studying in the USA, I didn't mean I wanted to ask for a green card with this visa, I intended to ask if it would help me in any way to get one after I graduate. Apart from that, I believe I'm not required to return immediately after I graduate, I can stay and work for some months ("Optional Practical Training" authorization), though it is a requirement if I go through a program such as Fullbright.

2. As for a family-sponsored Visa, I can't wait that long. I think it's not an option if it takes more than 5 years, so I'm discarding it.

3. Based on what you said, I understand the best option right now would be to apply for the DV-2017 lottery, and in worst case scenario I can apply many times the following years until I get one.


I read that in some cities like San Francisco there are more than 35% immigrants. How do they do? It's not possible that all of them waited 20 years for a green card or got a job while staying in their countries. Isn't there any kind of visa or procedure for people who is in the high tech industry or have a company and want to open an office in the USA? Many of these people have a small company so they're not working for anyone else.

I would love to read more opinions about this!


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1. A student visa does not help in any way for you to get a green card.

Family based immigration is the most common way. It's not like all those immigrants came to the US in the last few years. Some of those immigrants have been here for 70-80 years. A person is still an immigrant even after getting naturalized.

I am an immigrant. I lived in San Francisco. I've been here for 40 years. I have been a US citizen for 32 years. My parents, 7 siblings, and I were Vietnam refugees in 1975. That's how we got here. After getting US citizenship, we petitioned family members. First, we petitioned for 4 uncles and 2 aunts. They came with their spouses and lots of children. Some of those children went back to Vietnam in the last 20 years to marry. They brought their spouses over. These in-laws then petitioned for their families. My guess is that there are over 200 people that have immigrated from those original petitions filed in the 1980s. That's how there are 35% immigrants in SF. Not everybody waited 20 years because they have familial relationships that allows them to immigrate in a year (K-1 fiancee, Immediate Relatives). Some have waited over 20 years.

Hi-tech jobs = H1b visas. If you want a work visa, then you need a US employer who can meet the qualifications to apply for a visa on your behalf. (There is no place where you can go look for these jobs. You apply like the rest of the people here for jobs posted.)

If you want to start a business in the US, then look at the E visas. You got to have lots of money to do this.

Edited by aaron2020

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Ger your employer to transfer you, that is probably the most common one I have come across.

San Francisco is a sanctuary city.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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