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The basics
THE USA: Latest News

International students in US face work permit delays

Work permit delays in the US cause international students to miss out on internships and jobs.

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The US attracts 1.1million international students each year, with many keen to remain in the country to pursue a career after graduation. But what options are available for these students who wish to find work after their studies? There are two main options. One option is to enroll in an Optional Practical Training programme (OPT) while the other is to apply for a work visa. The period that you can stay once you graduate will depend on your student visa status. F-1 students will have 60 days to apply while M-1 and J-1 students have 30.


The OPT option allows F-1 visa holders to work in the US if their temporary employment relates directly to their field of study. These students can work in the US for a period of 12 months with the option to extend a further 24 months for STEM students. In 2017/2018 the number of OPT students rose by almost 16%, enabling 203,000 students to work in the US.


Usually students can apply for an OPT programme 90 days before graduation and can expect to receive an answer within 60-90 days. However, this year has seen extensive delays of up to five months which is said to be due to an influx of applications. The result of this is that students are missing out on job and internship offers because of these prolonged processing times.


The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is aware of the delays and officials say they have a plan to address the issue.


Want more information on studying and working in the US?


Applying for a student visa in the US

Visa conditions for working while studying in the US

Study in the USA


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