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THE USA: Visa Guides - Must read

Student Insights: Post-study visa options in America

Learn and find out all about post-study visa options for international students in America, with insights given by a student who has undertaken the process.

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Part of the process of evaluating the potential of an overseas study destination is taking into account what sort of career opportunities may exist once you’ve graduated.  If you’ve been considering the U.S. as your study abroad option, it’s important that you’re in the know regarding post-study work visas and working rights in the country. We sat down with Taro, an international student from Japan, who told us about his experience of studying in the U.S. and what advice he has for international students thinking of doing the same. 

Work permits & visas

The most important thing that I needed to remember was that once I had completed my studies I would no longer be eligible to either stay in the U.S. or work there. That’s why I took the time to explore what documentation I would need if I intended to pursue my career or gain work experience in the U.S. I applied for, and would encourage any student to do the same, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa, which I think is ideal for international students. This permits you to work outside of the institutional environment for a year after you have graduated. You can apply for the OPT within 90 days of the completion of your qualification and set the start date for 60 days after you’ve finished studying. 


Know your visa and permit types 

There are two kinds of OPT visas, which are the pre-completion, for students who are still studying, and the post-completion OPT for students who have recently graduated. My advice would be to make sure that you’ve chosen the best visa for your needs, for example if you’re an undergraduate and are looking to go on to graduate studies. Importantly, if you’re an international student on an F-1 student visa you cannot work outside of campus during your studies. 


Where to get help

Obviously, you can do a lot of research online, but it can get quite complex and complicated so it’s a good idea to visit the international office at your institution to get advice and assistance. They can help you with putting together your application and sourcing the correct documents. One of the best things that I did during my time as a student was to attend an information session held by the international office, in fact it was in my first semester. I gained important knowledge and invaluable information, which allowed me to plan my future effectively. Being aware of what options you have is essential to mapping out your direction after you graduate. 


Working full time


With the OPT visa only lasting for a year you’ll need to try and get an employer to sponsor your H-1B work visa. This will allow you to work full time in the U.S. as long as the company sponsoring the visa can prove that you are the best and most well-equipped candidate for the job. One of the trends which I have noticed is that if you have pursued a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) qualification you often have a better chance of receiving sponsorship from a company for an H-1B visa. This is generally due to the scarcity of skills in this area, especially if you have a postgraduate qualification. It is something to consider when weighing up your options. 




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