How to Get a Post-Study Work Visa in the USA?

post study work visa in usa

The United States of America (USA) is one of the top study abroad destinations among international students. Quality education, better job opportunities, and quality of life attract many people to pursue higher education and work in the USA. One of the many reasons why students want to pursue higher education in the USA is attaining a post-study work visa in the USA. This article will give you a detailed understanding of how students can apply for a post-study work permit in the USA. 

There are three types of student visas to study abroad in the USA, F1 Visa, M1 Visa, and J1 Visa, that 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.

Important Links : Student Visa | Student Visa for USA

Types of OPT 

There are two types of OPT:

  1. Pre-Completion OPTРAllows international students to work while studying. 
  2. Post-Completion OPT- Allows international students to work after completing their degree courses. 

It is mandated that the job you get after graduating is related to your field of study. The period of time that international students get to find a job after graduation is 90 days. 

Resources for USA Visa

When to apply for an OPT Extension? 

Students can apply for a STEM OPT Extension by requesting the I-20 as early as 90 days before the expiration of the current 12-month OPT.

Who can apply for an OPT Extension? 

F1 visa holders can apply for an OPT extension once they complete their studies. The condition is they should apply within the post-completion period of one year. Students applying for an OPT Extension must 

  • Hold a degree in STEM courses from a university that holds accreditation from the US Department of Education and is authorized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) when the student applies for an OPT Extension.
  • Students who have graduated in STEM courses, i.e., science, technology, engineering, and math, can extend their stay in the USA for 2 years which makes it a total of 3 years.

How to apply for OPT extension for students belonging to non-STEM degree courses? 

If an F1 visa holder from a non-STEM degree course wishes to extend their OPT after graduation, they can utilize their past degree from the USA school of higher education to apply for an OPT extension. 

Both graduation and past degrees should be from SEVP-certified institutions. Students applying for an OPT extension shouldn’t already possess an OPT extension from the same past degree. The job opportunity also must align with the field of study. 

For example- If a candidate has completed a master’s in international relations but holds a past bachelor’s degree in technology, they can use the past degree to apply for an OPT extension. The condition being the degree is from an accredited US college.

  • Additional OPT Extension¬†

If a student pursues a high-level degree in the future, he is eligible to extend his OPT for another year. 

For example- If a candidate already holds an OPT extension based on the bachelor’s degree in mathematics and if they get a succeeding master’s degree in mathematics, they can use this degree to extend the STEM OPT for an additional year. All they need to do is:

  • Choose an employer that provides the necessary training to the students¬†
  • Work for an employer enlisted in USCIS’ E- verify employment eligibility verification program.¬†
  • Work for a minimum of 20 hours a week.¬†

How to apply for an OPT extension? 

To apply for an OPT extension, students must follow the below guide:

  • Submit Form I-765 up to 90 days before the validity of his current OPT employment authorization ends.¬†
  • Pay the application fees¬†
  • Mention the employer‚Äôs name as listed in E-Verify¬†
  • E-Verify Company Identification Number of the employer¬†
  • Copy of student’s STEM degree
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, approved by your designated school official (DSO) within the last 60 days

Suppose a candidate submits the form within the given time, but the OPT period ends while the extension application is still pending. In that case, his employment authorization will be positively extended for 180 days by USCIS. This extension will no longer be applicable once the extension application gets settled by USCIS. 

After receiving the OPT extension, students should inform their DSO about the following changes if made.

  • The official name of the student¬†
  • Residential address
  • Email address
  • Employer‚Äôs name¬†
  • Employer‚Äôs address
  • Student‚Äôs employer name¬†
  • Student‚Äôs employer’s address

If no information has been changed, students must be in touch with their DSOs every six months. 

Working in the US with an H-1B Visa 

The H-1B Visa is an immigrant visa that permits foreign nationals to go to the USA and work for American companies.¬† Candidates applying for jobs in the USA must get a job offer from one of the US-based companies and must work in a field that demands specialized knowledge and skills. Any professional-level job that usually requires a bachelor’s degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. In place of the candidate, the employer applies for an H1-B visa with the US Immigration Department. This gives the candidate the work permit to get a visa stamp to work in the USA for that employer.¬†

H-1B is one of the few visas that allow family members to join the visa holder during their stay in the USA. To avail this facility, the dependent family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) will have to apply for the H4 visa. The H4 visa holders can go to school, open bank accounts, get a driver’s license and even receive a social security number.

Applying for a non-immigrant visa is usually faster than applying for a USA Green Card; therefore, the H-1B visa is popular for the USA companies that wish to bring in a skilled workforce for long-term assignments in the USA.

Till when the H-1B Visa is valid?

The validity of an H-1B Visa is of 3 years, and can be extended for six years. In several cases, the candidate can even apply for further extension depending on the type of work.

In case an H-1B employee quits their job or is dismissed, there are three options:

  • Find a new job and complete new paperwork
  • Apply for a change of status (including application for a green card or PR)
  • Return to their country or be deported.

The period to find a new job is 60 days.

Green card 

If the employment of the worker on an H1-B visa gets terminated by the employer, that person gets 60 days to find a new job opportunity. 

If the worker fails to find a job within 60 days and doesn’t get a green card either, he is left with no other option than to leave the US. The employer who fired the worker will be responsible for covering the worker’s expenses to return to his home country.¬†

Eligibility criteria 

  1. The candidate must have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from an authorized university. 
  2. The candidate must have received the job offer from the petitioner ( employer)
  3. The candidate must work in a field that demands both logical and practical knowledge. 

For example- engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences and medicine.

  1. The candidate must possess a state license that permits him to work in the specialty occupation field. 

How to apply for an H1-B visa? 

Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for an H1-B visa:

  1. Make sure that you check whether you are eligible to apply for an H1-B visa 
  2. Apply for an active job opening in the US to find a  petitioner
  3. Ask your employer to start with the petition for the H1-B visa 
  4. Apply for the H1-B visa at your closest US Embassy. 

Best Practices for Maintaining Your US Visa Status

As an international student, it is important to maintain your visa status. Here

are some tips that will help you to get started 

  1. Don’t disobey the USA laws or university code of student conduct. 

As an international student, it is their responsibility to respect the laws the USA government implements. Also, US universities follow specific codes of conduct that every individual enrolled there is supposed to follow. If the students for any reason disobey the university codes of student conduct, they may lose their visas. 

  1. Keep the travel requirements ready. 

It is better to prepare all the necessary travel documents before leaving for the USA. The documents that students are advised to keep with them are Copies of their immigration documents-  Form I-20 and passport.  

  1. Make sure you have a valid passport. 

Before traveling to the US, the students must ensure that their passport is valid. The minimum period for which the passport should be valid is 6 months. 

  1. Your address should be current. 

If there’s any change in your address once you move to the US, make sure that you inform about those changes to your university. 

We hope this article has answered all your doubts regarding post-study work visas in the USA. If you still have doubts, drop your query in the comment section. We will try our best to answer them.

Also Read:


Q1. What is the meaning of a post-study work visa in the USA?

A. A post-study work visa is a permit that allows international students to stay in the USA after completing their studies. F1 visa holders can stay in the country for up to a year after finishing their bachelor’s or master’s degree in the USA. The visa options granted by the USA enable the students to work while studying or after completing their studies.

Q2. How to get PR in the USA after masters?

A. To get a PR in the USA after your master’s degree, you need to apply for a green card. There are various ways F1 student visa holders can get a green card. Some of them get sponsored by the employer, receive sponsorship from a child or parent, win the green card lottery, and many more.

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