What are the options for international students to stay in the United States after graduation?

international students

People worldwide have come to the United States for many years to pursue higher education. If you are an international student residing in the United States and wish to continue living in the U.S. after you have completed your undergraduate degree, you may wonder what your options may be, as there are specific visa requirements and restrictions. Fortunately, as an international student, you have an advantage in obtaining a visa or pursuing citizenship compared to other non-natives, as you already have been granted access to enter the country legally for your education. Keep reading to learn what options are available for international students to stay in the U.S. after graduation, and discover how a skilled Middlesex County, New Jersey, Education Immigration Lawyer can help you today. 

After graduating, what are the options for international students to remain in the U.S.?

F-1 visa holders are typically entitled to one year of post-completion practical training after graduation. This means international students can reside and work in the U.S. for 12 months after completing their undergraduate or graduate programs. However, they must have either received their degree or have been studying in the U.S. for a full academic year to be eligible for optional practical training. It is critical to note that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students may be entitled to a 24-month extended stay. If you decide to take this route after graduation, your employment must be related to your field of study; you must submit work authorization forms to USICS and only work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session. Although this program will only allow you to remain in the U.S. for an additional year after completing your studies, your employer could petition for an H-1B temporary nonimmigrant work visa.

In some cases, an international student may transfer their F-1 student visa status to an H-1B visa status if they have a U.S. employer willing to sponsor their petition. The H-1B visa will allow an international student to reside and work in the U.S. for six years. However, to obtain an H-1B visa, they must possess specialized knowledge in a specific field of study and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. During your fifth consecutive year working at a company, your employer may file for employment-based permanent residency, extending your H-1B visa. However, if you change jobs, you must apply for an H-1B visa all over again.

Furthermore, another option that is often the ultimate goal for any non-native residing in the U.S. is obtaining lawful permanent resident status (green card). Since international students have lived in the U.S. for an extended period to pursue their education, they have an advantage over non-natives seeking green cards. While other visas allow you to remain in the U.S. temporarily, if you are granted a green card, you can reside and work in the U.S. permanently.

If you are an international student that wishes to remain in the U.S. after graduation, contact a dedicated and adept lawyer from the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC, who can help you understand your visa options. Our firm is prepared to help you take the necessary steps to stay in the U.S. after graduation.


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