A complete Guide on Post Study Work Permit in the USA

The United States of America tops the list of the most desirable countries to settle down. It is one of the most coveted destinations for those who wish to start their career abroad. One of the major things that students who wish to study in the USA and start a global career in the USA want to know is the process of getting a post-study work permit in the USA. The F1 visa that is issued for the duration of their graduation expires once they have graduated. For these students, the best option to legally extend their stay in the USA is to apply for an Optional Practical Training or OPT visa extension. The purpose of this visa extension is to provide the graduating students with the opportunity of gaining job experience or pursuing an internship. The students can extend their stay, up to 12 months legally by applying for the OPT visa extension.

The OPT is differentiated by the Curricular Practical Training or CPT, as OPT can be completed before or after you graduate however the CPT must be completed before your graduation. One of the key things to keep in mind is that the maximum length of the OPT can be 12 months, and if you have already completed your OPT before your graduation, you will not be able to apply for the extension under the OPT visa extension. The only way for you to become eligible for the 12 months of OPT again is if you re-enroll into a graduate program.

If you are a student of any of the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) fields then you can get an additional 12 months of visa extension under the STEM OPT extension going up to 24 months. These extensions can help you get the much-required relief if you wish to join work after your F1 visa expiry till the time you get a job and get your H1B visa, issued for continuing work in the US on temporary employment status. 

Read on to know how you can apply for an extension under the OPT and prepare for having a work visa for yourself, so that you may continue working in the USA. 

Requirements for getting a post-study work permit in the USA:

The first step to get a valid post-study work permit is to make sure that you have your F1 visa in place since it enables you to apply for OPT visa extension for one year after your course completion. Here are the key requirements of the F1 visa that you need to meet, for applying successfully.

  • The first and foremost thing to ensure before taking admission into an educational institution is that the school, college, or university must have the approval of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services also called USCIS.
  • Your enrolment into the course or program must be as a full-time and regular student
  • The student must be proficient in the English language established through an English language proficiency test
  • The candidate must possess the funds to support them throughout their studies in the US including the living expenses.

Once you have been admitted into an educational institution of your choice while meeting the above criteria, you can initiate the process of applying for an F1 visa. Below are the steps to follow for an F1 visa. 

  • Once you have successfully admitted to an institution carrying approval of SEVP, you will be sent your SEVIS-ID as well as form I-20 which is the Certificate of Eligibility for non-immigrant Student Status
  • You can now proceed with paying the I-901 SEVIS fee online and then proceed to the nearest US Embassy or Consulate to apply for your International Student Visa application
  • Next step is to fill the online non-immigrant Visa Application form (DSI-160) and upload the required documents
  • You can now proceed to schedule your interview for a visa application with the US Embassy or Consulate that’s closest to you. While scheduling you can make the payment of the USD 160 visa application fees
  • On the scheduled date, go ahead with the interview at the designated US Embassy or Consulate. The outcome of this interview would decide your visa application being accepted.

As you finish your graduation and your F1 visa gets over, you can apply for the OPT extension. Here are the steps for applying for the OPT extension.

  • To begin, your DSO must initiate the OPT request on SEVIS. You need to forward your request to DSO for the same.
  • DSO provides the form I-20 for you to sign
  • You can fill Application for Employment Authorization
  • Submit the fee for OPT extension with the form, as well as documents online
  • Submit evidence to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the deadline
  • Approval received on your request.

For the OPT extension, you do not need a job offer. Your employment however must be aligned to your field of study.

Interview tips for landing a job in the USA

When it comes to landing the dream internship or job in the United States, it helps to keep a few interview tips in mind. Here are some tips to guide you in your preparation:

  •     Optimize your resume – Customize your resume according to your industry and the job that you wish to apply for. Do include the industry terms so that you can make the resume relevant and get the resume vetted by your professor or other experts.
  •     Dress right – Every industry has a dressing norm and dressing right plays a crucial part in creating the first impression. Research a bit and get the dressing right so that you are not over or under-dressed for the occasion.
  •     Good eye contact – Maintaining good eye contact shows your confidence and can be one of the best ways of building rapport with the interviewer. Establish trust early in the interview with the right amount of eye contact and do practice if you need to get it right.
  •     Practice the handshake –Most US employers would appreciate and expect a firm handshake, as it is one of the culturally significant ways of making a positive impression. Practice your handshake to make sure you do not offer a bone crusher or a limp fish.
  •     Emphasize using body language – Your body language plays an important part in communicating to the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. Use open body language and gestures to display your confident side. Practice how you stand and sit so that your posture is maintained throughout the interview. 
  •     Upsell the education and qualification – Include all the relevant education and other certifications that can help in strengthening your candidature. American culture does not look down on the candidates who positively showcase their ability and competence, so do not feel shy away from highlighting your accomplishments.
  •     Speak positively about your homeland – Some of the students may site the many difficulties faced in their home country and the difficult situations there when the employer asks them about their motivation for coming to the US. While it is great to speak highly of the opportunities presented in the US, it is not advisable to talk negatively of your home country.
  • Practice common questions – Do prepare answers to the common interview questions such as introducing yourself, talking about your strengths and weaknesses, and the reason for your interest in the position or company. This will not only make your answers better prepared but also help you feel more confident.
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