20 May How to stay in US after graduation ?
Graduation from college arouses mixed feelings. Students are excited at the prospect of making their dreams a reality but also anxious about the uncertainty the future holds. International students graduating from college wonder about important questions – How long can International students stay in US after graduation? Do I stay in US or leave? How to stay in US after graduation? etc.
International students can stay in US for 60 days after graduation. Below are the options if you intend to stay longer and make the US your home.
Optional Practical Training
Optional practical training (OPT) allows F1 international students to put the skills they learned at school into practice and gain some employment experience. F1 student should be enrolled as a full-time student for an academic year before they are eligible for OPT. If the student had been on full-time CPT for more than 12 months during the program they are not eligible for OPT. OPT is granted for a maximum of 12 months for each degree completed at an academic level. Getting Employment Authorization under OPT involves two steps – The student must first request the DSO for OPT, the DSO then recommends OPT for the student in SEVIS and prints out new I-20 with the OPT recommendation. You should then apply for OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filing the form I-765 with USCIS. You are not eligible to work on OPT until after the EAD begin date. One advantage with OPT is that it is not tied to any employer and you can request OPT without any job offer in hand. The OPT position can be paid or unpaid volunteer work. However, once OPT EAD is granted you can only remain unemployed for a maximum of 90 days. Any material changes to your employment must be reported to the DSO in 10 days. You can find further details on the OPT here.
STEM OPT Extension
STEM OPT extension allows international students to extend OPT Employment Authorization for another 24 months provided they graduated from a Science Technology Engineering Management (STEM) program from a SEVP approved school. You should be on OPT and be employed by an E-Verify employer in order to apply for STEM OPT. The student and the employer need to fill the formal training plan document I-983 before the DSO can recommend STEM OPT Extension. Once the DSO recommends STEM extension, the student should submit the Application for Employment authorization for the STEM extension. STEM extension should be applied before 90 days of the OPT end date. You can continue working for 180 days while your STEM OPT EAD extension application is pending with USCIS. You can be unemployed for a maximum of 60 days while you are on STEM OPT.
H1B visa allows international students to work for 3 years and it can be extended for 3 more years. Unlike OPT, H1B should be filed by an US employer who is willing to sponsor the H1B visa. H1B visa can be filed only for the applicants who are working in specialty occupations. USCIS has a hard cap of 65,000 H1B visas per year and an additional 20,000 more visas are reserved for applicants who have completed a Masters Degree at US Institutions. USCIS starts accepting H1B petitions from April 1st of every year. Since there are more applicants than allowable H1B visas under the quota, USCIS picks the H1B applicants via the lottery process. More than 200,000 H1B petitions are received for a total of 85,000 H1B visas available during the FY 2020 H1B cap period. Generally, OPT holders will have two chances to participate in the H1B lottery and the STEM OPT holders will have four chances before the OPT Employment Authorization expires.
Enroll in a University to pursue another Degree
You can enroll in another degree program to continue your education. This way you can continue your F1 status. You can pursue a degree at the same academic level or higher level. But it is advisable to enroll in a program at a higher degree level. For example, if you completed Bachelors enroll in a Masters program and if you already completed the Master’s program enroll in a Ph.D. program. You will be eligible for another 12 months of OPT and another 24 months of STEM OPT extension if you pursue a degree at a higher level. Please read our SEVIS Transfer blog for more details. If you are looking to enroll in a university, it is advisable to seek the help of Counsellors at Skoolville.com who can help with the selection of the programs and submission the applications.
Marry someone with valid immigration status
You can marry someone who is on a valid immigration status like H1B, Permanent resident or a US Citizen. If you marry someone with H1B status, you can apply for a change of status from F1 visa to H4 visa. If your fiance is a permanent resident or US CItizen, you can become eligible to file permanent residency based on marriage. Needless to say, marriage should be a bond and relation built upon love rather than convenience and immigration benefits.
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