Are you considering studying in the United States? If so, the prospect of immigration might be on your mind, especially if you’re contemplating staying in the country after completing your studies. Unlike many other countries with strict regulations on post-education stays, the USA stands out as an exception, offering various options for international students to extend their stay and pursue work opportunities.
F-1 Student Visa and On-Campus Work
The F-1 nonimmigrant student visa permits candidates to engage in on-campus work for up to 20 hours per week during the initial nine months of their program. Upon completing their course or master’s degree, students can explore additional work options.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
One of the key avenues for international students to stay back and work in the USA is through Optional Practical Training (OPT). This program allows students to work for 12 months after finishing their studies. To be eligible, authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the international student office of the school is required. OPT is divided into two types:
- Pre-Completion OPT: Begins before program completion.
- Post-Completion OPT: Starts after program completion.
How to Apply for OPT:
- Possess an F-1 visa.
- Employment must be related to the course of study.
- Apply for OPT before completing all course-related work.
- Obtain a recommendation from the Designated School Official (DSO).
- Complete Form I-20, which the university sends to SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) for form generation.
- Find a job within 90 days of program completion for OPT extension.
Post-Study Work Permit under OPT
The post-study work permit under OPT allows for a 12-month stay in the USA after program completion. Notably, students pursuing STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) enjoy a 24-month extension under the new OPT rules.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option available to F-1 visa students. To secure CPT, candidates need authorization from the institute’s International Student Help Desk and must notify the USCIS. CPT provides paid employment opportunities that align with the student’s field of study.
CPT Rules for F-1 Visa:
- CPT training must contribute to academic credit.
- Students must have studied in the USA for at least a year with a valid F-1 visa.
- A job offer in the field of study is required before applying for CPT authorization.
Optional Practical Training Jobs in International Organizations
International students with an F-1 visa can also explore employment opportunities in recognized international organizations. This includes entities such as the Red Cross, organizations listed by the State Department, Asian and African Development Banks, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization, and other globally recognized institutions.
Embark on your educational journey in the USA, knowing that the possibilities extend beyond the classroom. The country’s student-friendly immigration policies and diverse work options make it an attractive destination for those seeking not only quality education but also a pathway to a promising future.