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Can international students stay in the U.S. after graduation?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Immigration Law

International students in the United States often wonder about their options for staying in the country after completing their studies.

The United States offers various pathways for these students to remain and work, depending on their circumstances and aspirations.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

One of the most common ways for international students to stay in the U.S. after graduation is through Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT permits students on F-1 visas to work in their field of study for up to 12 months after graduation. For those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, this period can be extended for an additional 24 months, known as STEM OPT extension.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is another avenue for international graduates seeking to work in the U.S. This visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The application process for an H-1B visa is competitive and subject to annual caps, but graduates with U.S. degrees often have a better chance of being selected.

Employer sponsorship for permanent residency

Some international students may seek permanent residency in the U.S. This often involves finding an employer willing to sponsor them for a green card. The process can be lengthy and complex, requiring the employer to prove that no qualified U.S. workers are available for the job.

Other visa categories

Other visa categories might apply depending on individual circumstances, such as the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement and the J-1 visa for work-study-based exchange visitor programs.

While the process can be challenging and competitive, several options are available for international students wishing to stay in the U.S. after graduation. It’s crucial to plan and be aware of application deadlines and requirements to increase the chances of successfully extending their stay in the United States.