After studying in the United States, many international students in California may be looking for ways to remain in the country and continue to work legally. The F-1 visa program allows international students to work for U.S. companies after they graduate in order to obtain practical experience in their field after obtaining a degree. Some are accusing fake companies of exploiting students’ desire to build up their work experience in the country, saying that false employment records may be for sale for thousands of students every year.

The Optional Practical Training program allows students on an F-1 visa to remain in the country for 12 to 36 months after getting their degree to work in the field. Students can only apply for the program for a short time, from 90 days before the end of their program of study until 60 days after completion. This short window while looking for employment may drive many students into desperation. Some universities provide more guidance for students, helping them to understand the requirements for a work visa and other immigration restrictions and contacting employers in the program directly to verify a student’s employment and tasks. For some types of graduates, like engineers or architects, these types of programs can be invaluable for their careers.

However, some companies are accused of holding out false hope of employment in exchange for payment from students. These companies may exist on paper only, and their main business appears to be selling access to employment verification for OPT applicants. The owner of one of these companies has pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

It can be all too easy for students looking for solutions to become ensnared in bigger problems with the immigration system. An immigration law attorney may help students and companies to navigate employment immigration applications legally and successfully.