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I'm currently enrolled in a PhD program. For medical related reasons, it's not feasible for me to continue the program, and I plan to leave in the next semester. I am on a F1 visa right now. Obviously, I will lose my F1 status (and my OPT benefit as well).

I have a girlfriend here in the US (she's a citizen), but we are not married. What are my chances of being able to get a job in the US with a starting date beginning next year (e.g. Jan/Feb 2020)? I might have a (big company) employer that wants to hire me, but I wonder if the time required to get a work visa will make it impossible to start next year.

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You mainly have two options:

1) Get married and apply to be a Permanent Resident. If you apply this month, you should be able to work by the end of the year. EADs for AoS are taking about 7 months to process. However, it needs to be a Bona Fide marriage. Consequences for immigration fraud are severe as you probably know.

2) Find an employer that would be wiling to sponsor you for a H1-B visa or a EB-2. For the H1-B there are premium process available in which you can have your petition approved in less than a month. The timeline for that though will depend on when you can get a job offer and when the employer starts the process for you.

  • Even if the employer were to pay for premium processing, and I won the lottery, wouldn't I need to wait until the next fiscal year (therefore October 2020) for the H1B visa to start its validity? Thank you. – denidare Jun 21 at 0:37
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    It depends. If we're talking about a cap subject institution, you are correct. Also, applications start on April 1st and the quota is usually gone a a few days. So the employer will have to wait for April 2020 to apply. However, if its a cap-exempt institution, then no. You may start working as soon as the application is approved. – IanDan Jun 21 at 15:56

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