How Can a F1 Student Stay in USA after Completion of a Course?
First of all congratulations if you have made it so far !!
Well, as an international student in USA, you must be holding F1 visa. Under the F1 visa , students are only allowed to work part time ( 20 hrs a week ) on campus job with the permission from university. Under no circumstances you can be a full time internationals student and work more that 20 hr/week.
Once you complete your course, you will then have to apply for Optical Practical Training ( OPT) through your school. OPT will allow F1 students to work full time once the course is complete.
A student from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field can have up to 29 months of OPT where as a not STEM major students can only have 12 months OPT.
Students form UG, Masters and PhD will have the same rule for OPT.
Now once a student have the OPT, he/she will now eligible to find a job. Once you get a job, your employer can now apply for H1B VISA which is a working visa for USA. H1B visa is given on the bases of a lottery. If you are lucky enough, you can get picked up in the first attempt, or else you have to apply next year again. A student would get 3 chance at max during OPT time frame.
Once you get H1B visa – you now can work in USA for another 6 years at max as duration of this visa is only for 6 years. While you are on H1B visa, you have to now apply for green card within that time frame.
There are many categories under which you can apply Green card. You can find more details on USCIS website. There are mainly 4 categories for students- H1B holders. EB1-A, EB1-B, EB-2 PERM and EB2- NIW. Out of these: EB-1A and EB-2 NIW is self-sponsored where as other are sponsored by employer.
There are few step in Green card process. Once you get you I-140 approved – you can now extend you H1B beyond 6 years until you get green card. In addition your spouse will get the EAD card and now she can work in USA too.
Next step is file I-485 and wait until you receive Green card.
Last step is you apply for citizenship, once you get the Green card.
Good luck !!
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