Post Study Work Visa in the USA

The USA is a leading destination for international students and many universities in the USA are considered among the best in the world. The United States also offers a wide range of work opportunities and is a popular destination for people looking to immigrate.

Duration of Post Study Visa for different programs.

The duration of a post-study work visa in the United States varies depending on the specific program and level of education completed.

  • For students who complete a bachelor's or master's degree, the post-study work visa (also known as Optional Practical Training, or OPT) allows for up to 12 months of work authorization. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students can apply for an extension of the OPT for an additional 24 months, for a total of 36 months.
  • For students who complete a doctoral degree, the post-study work visa (also known as Academic Training) allows for up to 36 months of work authorization.

How to obtain post-study work visa

To obtain a post-study work visa (Optional Practical Training or Academic Training) in the United States, you will need to follow these general steps:

  • Obtain a degree from an accredited college or university in the United States.
  • Apply for OPT or Academic Training:
  • For OPT, you must apply within 90 days before your program end date and before your current F-1 visa expires.
  • For Academic Training, you must apply before the completion of your program or before your F-1 visa expires, whichever comes first.
  • Submit the required documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) including Form I- 765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the required fees and evidence of your degree and employment offer (if applicable).
  • Wait for the approval of your application. It can take several months for USCIS to process your application, so plan accordingly.
  • Once approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which will allow you to work for a specific period of time.

Optional Practical Training or Academic Training (OPT) and Progression to H-1B Visa for students 

  • OPT Nation website or similar websites also provide important job leads too for the students. Its important to search for contract position for shorter duration as jobs which are more permanent in nature are generally for H -1B visa holders or residents or citizens. 
  • The employer generally petition for H -1B visa if the nature of the student’s qualification is unique and employer needs to fill in the positions with that expertise. 
  • OPT route is an important connection the industry where later on one can be helped with sponsorship for H-1B visa.  Employers will evaluate jobholders on OPT for progression to permanent position. Its also a low risk for employer. 

H-1B visa (non-immigrant visa), PR (Green Card) and Citizenship

One of the most common ways to obtain a PR status based on employment is through sponsorship by an employer. This is typically done through the employer sponsoring the employee for a green card in a certain employment-based preference category, such as EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities) or EB-3 (skilled or professional workers).

International students also have a possibility to convert their F1 student visa to H -1B visa without the OPT route if their nature of education or qualification is such that its in great demand by the industry, Students with prior work experience and master or MBA degrees stand a greater chance of converting their F1 visa into H-1B visa. 

H - 1B visa holders can work and stay in USA for 6 years and after 5 years of continuous employment with one employer, employer can file for permanent residency based on employment also popularly known as Green Card. This extends the visa of stay beyond 6 years. If an individual changes employer during the 6 years a new H-1B visa has to be obtained. Green card can be self petitioned too in some cases. 

It's important to note that the process of obtaining a green card through employment can be lengthy and complex, and there is no guarantee of approval. Also, the process and chances of getting a PR based on employment can change over time, please consult official website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the most up-to- date information and for specific details about eligibility and application procedures.

After 5 years of the Green Card acquisition, individuals can apply for citizenship of United States of America. 

Alternate ways of obtaining a Permanent Resident (PR)

Another way to obtain a PR status based on employment is through the EB-5 Investor Visa program, which allows foreign investors to obtain a green card by investing a certain amount of money in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

The process of PR

The process of obtaining Permanent Resident (PR) status in the United States, also known as a green card, can vary depending on the individual's circumstances and the specific immigration category they are applying under. However, in general, the process typically involves the following steps:

  • Preference category determination: The first step is to determine which preference category the individual falls under. The most common employment-based categories include EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities), EB-3 (skilled or professional workers), and EB-5 (investors).

  • Labor Certification (PERM): For most employment-based categories, the employer must first obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) attesting that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position and that the foreign worker's employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.

  • I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: After obtaining a labor certification, the employer must file an I- 140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on behalf of the employee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: Once the I-140 is approved and there is an available visa number in the individual's preference category, the employee can file an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS. This application includes biometrics, background check, and other security checks.

  • Interview and Adjudication: After the I-485 is filed, the individual may be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer, during which the officer will review the application and ask questions to verify the information provided. After the interview, the officer will make a decision on the application.

  • Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Depending on the individual's circumstances and the specific immigration category they are applying under, they may be eligible to adjust status to permanent resident while remaining in the United States or through consular processing by visiting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

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