If you are a foreign national who has come to the United States to go to college, you may be able to work in the United States while you are in college, and even after you graduate. Once your initial visa expires, graduates can apply for a temporary visa, and in many cases can earn the qualifications needed to secure a green card while on the visa.
F-1 Optional Practical Training
While you are in F-1 student status, you are allowed to participate in Optional Practical Training employment authorization, or OPT. To be eligible, you must be a full-time student in good standing for at least 1 full academic year, and currently maintaining F-1 status, with proposed work that is directly related to your major area of study.
Participating in OPT allows students to work while they are in school and when school is out, for the summer, during breaks, and even after graduation. All foreign students are allowed one year of work for every degree that is earned, and anyone who earns a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics can have an additional 17 month work extension. If you are authorized to participate in OPT, you are allowed to work part time (up to 20 hours per week), when school is in session, and full time during annual vacation times. You may also work full time after the completion of all course requirements minus a thesis or the equivalent, and after the completion of studies, up through the time guidelines mentioned.
After earning a college degree and finding an employer, you may ask your employer to sponsor you for H-1B temporary employment status. This type of visa is available only for employees who are working in a position that requires a bachelor’s degree. As time goes on, graduates with H-1B visas often gain the needed qualifications to apply for an employment-based immigration visa, and gain a green card through a job offer.
To qualify for an H-1B Visa, you must have a job for which a bachelor’s degree or higher is the minimum requirement for the position, and the requirement for the bachelor’s degree must be common for that position within the industry, or the job is so unique or complex it can only be performed by an employee with at least a bachelor’s degree related to the position. The employer must always require a degree or the equivalent for the position; you must be paid the prevailing industry wage for that position; and the nature of the actual duties of the job must be so complex and specialized that the knowledge required to perform the duties is associated with having a bachelor’s degree or higher.
A Road to Permanent Residency
Over time, graduates with H-1B visas often gain the qualifications needed to apply for an employment-based immigrant visa. Your employer could sponsor you for a green card through a job offer, and if granted, you will have permanent residency.
Reach Out to an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today
Navigating student and employment immigration laws can be overwhelming for college students in the United States, but an immigration attorney can help you understand your options, and help you understand how to obtain employment authorization and legally extend your stay in this country. Call or email the experienced immigration attorneys at the Workers Compensation Lawyers- today if you are a college student in South Carolina who wants advice on legally remaining in the country after graduating from college.