Post-Study Work Opportunities in the US

Studying in the US is a coveted experience, and that is why the US hosts the largest cohort of international students globally. The benefits of a US education don’t just end with your college experience but stay on to help you find the best job opportunities in the US too!

To make sure your career takes off in the US without any kinks, it is crucial to ensure your student visa is not about to expire while you’re still residing in the US, as this will affect future US immigration applications. Here are some US post-study work options to help you plan your career in the country.

What are the main US post-study work options?

There are three types of student visas you can apply for when you study abroad in the US – F1 Visa, M1 Visa, and J1 Visa. These visas permit students to stay in the US for a limited time after completing their studies. To get temporary employment based on their field of study, international students need an F1 visa. After receiving the F1 visa, they can stay in the USA for a year once they finish their degree. An F1 visa holder can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which permits international students to stay and work in the USA for an entire year.

Every visa has a grace period before you will be required to leave the United States. For F1 students, the grace period is 60 days, while for M1 students, it is 30 days. As a graduate student, your employment-based options for staying in the United States will fall broadly between enrollment in an Optional Practical Training (OPT) program; finding an employer to sponsor you for a US work visa, or investing/establishing an enterprise in the US.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is a program for both undergraduate and graduate students on F-1 visas, whereby students are entitled to up to 12 months of study-related training, either during their course or once they have graduated.

You have to fit specific criteria to be eligible for this program, which requires you to have either received your degree or have been studying in the US for one full academic year, and your employment must be directly related to your major field of study.

As an international student, you should contact your Designated School Official (DSO) prior to completion of your course. The DSO is the institution-assigned individual who can assist and manage the status of overseas students. The DSO can help you submit the work authorization forms to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be deemed eligible for this program.

Students can also qualify for a STEM OPT extension, where those students who have studied science, technology, engineering, or mathematics may be eligible to extend their OPT program to 24 months – increasing the maximum OPT period to 3 years.

Full Time Jobs

When you are offered a full time job in the US, you can apply for an H-1B visa which is a temporary work visa for graduate-level workers who take up a job in a specialty occupation that requires theoretical or technical expertise. As an H-1B visa holder, you could be permitted to stay in the US for up to three years. This may be extended to a total of six years and possibly a permanent residence status if your employer is prepared to offer you a full-time position.

To qualify as a ‘specialty occupation’, the job must require a bachelor’s or higher degree as a minimum entry requirement. This is due to the fact that the nature of these specific duties is so specialized and complex that the US government needs proof of knowledge to grant a visa.

To be eligible for this type of visa, you must prove to USCIS that you are uniquely qualified for the position in the company because of your field of study. You will also need a job from a US employer who will sponsor you, who can then petition for an H-1B visa on your behalf with USCIS.

Keep in mind that there is a cap on the number of H-1B visas approved each fiscal year. But some categories are exempt from this cap, so do your research.

Investing In The USA

If you have funds to invest, you may also explore your eligibility for the E2 treaty investor visa. This is a non-immigrant, temporary visa for nationals of countries with whom the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation to invest in a US-based enterprise. The company can be established or a start-up.

The requirements for the E-2 visa mean the investment must be considered ‘substantial’; what constitutes substantial will be determined by the kind of company being invested in. You will also need to build a business plan to establish that the company meets the requirements under the visa classification.

As an international student, your opportunities are plenty when it comes to having a career and settling down in the US. To know more about post-work opportunities in the US, get in touch with us at Gradstar and we would be happy to help!

Date Published: Aug-08-2022

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About the author

Anupama Kumar is a content writer based in Bangalore, India. She writes blogs, stories, articles and social media content and has a passion for helping people and connecting with them through her writing. A professional writer by day and a creative one by night, her own stories, musings, quotes and poems inspired by her travels are also published on various platforms.