The United States acts as a remarkable hub for gaining quality higher education for millions of bright minds from overseas. In 2020-2021 alone, despite the COVID-19 effect, the number of international students in the total higher education enrollment of the country surpassed 900k. Since countless students from the length and breadth of the planet arrive in the US to undertake different graduation and post-graduation courses, they also dream of landing good employment opportunities here. Post becoming a graduate, you cannot ignore the necessary visa obligations that you must suffice to continue your career advancement in the American territory. Non-immigrant students usually undertake their higher studies in the US using an F-1 visa. However, after their college enrollment concludes, this visa expires.
If you wish to work after graduation in USA, you must apply for a suitable visa. Are you in a dilemma about which visa options can be ideal for you as a foreigner who has recently graduated in the US? I have you covered! Here are some of the most in-trend visa options available for you:
H-3 non-immigrant visa
Suppose you wish to gain some experience post your graduation through an appropriate training program and aim to return to your home country after completion. In that case, you can apply for an H-3 visa. This visa is helpful for trainees or special education exchange visitors who do not possess proper work experience and are keen to enhance their skills and take the acquired knowledge back to their native place. An H-3 trainee should have an invitation from an individual or organization in the US to receive training in a specific field. The visa under the H-3 program is valid for 2 years. One cannot convert their H-3 visa into L-1 or H1-B status.
Optional practical training (OPT) through your F-1 visa
OPT, aka the optional practical training, refers to an off-campus job opportunity for students who have already pursued their studies with an F-1 visa. It allows students to get hands-on work exposure relevant to their study domain. Many US companies use OPT as a way to recruit talent and offer to sponsor deserving candidates for H1-B applications. The OPT is among the country’s most preferred choices for foreign grad students. This training allows you to gain an additional 12 months extension to your F-1 visa during your study period or after the end of your graduation course. A student can apply for their optional practical training once they complete at least one academic year in the US or are entitled to receive their degree. However, students can initiate the application process after nine months of enrollment in the US. You can avail of your F-1 OPT work permits via your university’s international students department and wait to receive the Employment Authorization Document from the USCIS. The USCIS can take around 90 days to process your OPT application.
Non-immigrant R-1 visa
If you are a spiritual being and want to devote time to your faith as a religious worker in the US after your graduation, you can consider applying for an R-1 visa. The R-1 program for non-immigrant religious workers allows you to temporarily work in a religious vocation in any of the following entities:
- Religious organizations that have authorization by a group tax exemption holder
- Any nonprofit religious entity in the US
- A bona fide nonprofit organization affiliated with a religious denomination in the country
Also, remember you should be associated with the religious organization as a member for at least 2 preceding years before filing the visa application.
Non-immigrant H1-B visa
The H1-B visa is undeniably among the most recognized employment visas in the US. You can petition under the H1-B program following your graduation if you manage to land a job position in an organization ready to sponsor your employment visa application. This visa is available for people in specialty occupations with a job offer catering to the H1-B requirements. Since there exists an annual limit on the number of H1-B petitions accepted, you should ask your employer to apply on your behalf as early as possible. The USCIS grants the H1-B visa for a maximum duration of 3 years, which can be prolonged by 3 more years.
Non-immigrant L-1 visa
This visa is also termed the intracompany transferee visa. Multinational organizations with branches in the US utilize this visa program to transfer some workers to their American offices. The L-1 visa program is available for those who manage to gain managerial or executive level roles for a period of up to 7 years. Personnel with specialized skills and knowledge can also qualify for this visa for a maximum 5 years period.
Non-immigrant E-1 or E-2 visa
If you possess an entrepreneurial fire within you and want to start your business venture after your studies in the US, you can consider the E-1 or the E-2 visa schemes. The E-1 or the treaty trader visa is for citizens originally from countries having a special treaty agreement with the US. On the other hand, under the E-2 visa program, you can get a US visa if you make a substantial investment, as defined by the USCIS requirements, for operating your company in the United States.
The United States of America has unbeatable world-class educational and employment prospects for international folks around the globe. Once you have reached the landmark of completing your graduation in America, you can open doors to exciting opportunities with the various visa options available. Research the visa categories that float your boat and contact professional immigration lawyers who can help you discover the best career path.