When an international student comes to the US he comes here with two motives. One is to study and the other one is to get a job and settle here. Since he is a non-immigrant and international student he has to face choices once he completes his studies and regarding future employment. He comes here on a student visa F-1 and later if he wants to take up a job then he will be applying for OPT which is optional practical training. If he does not want a job he is free to return to his home country and put his skills to better use. However, maximum students look for job opportunity to work in the United States.
We will be giving you first an overview of the employment options that are available to the F-1 student who has just graduated or completed graduation and also, we will be addressing the possibility of obtaining a work permit and the transition.
F1 to OPT transition
The moment the F1 student finishes his graduation then he must know what is OPT and how the students who are studying with an F1 visa are eligible to seek opt employmentor work in the US on an OPT visa program. This program helps the student to apply the knowledge that he/she has gained through the course by practical work experience. It can be full or part time and anywhere in the US and must be directly related to the field of study.
The F-1 student may be applying for OPT to use during the vacation periods that is during the academic year or after completing the studies. Sometimes even the student who is pursuing master or Ph.D. can submit a thesis or a dissertation requirement and immediately apply for opt upon the completion. To be eligible for the OPT, the student must be enrolled for a full course of study for one year at least and the authorization can take up to 90 days to come by.
Thus the work can commence only after BCIS approves the application. Once the student finishes his/her duration of OPT then he/she may no longer stay in the US without a visa status change. The common step that the students take here is to change his/her status to H-1B the moment they get an h1b visa sponsorship jobsthus converting from F-1 to OPT and then to H-1B visa status.
OPT to H-1B transition
Students who come here to study in the US come with a goal of working here after they complete their degrees. The H-1B was primarily designed so as to help the F1 students to get jobs. There is also a separate H-1B quota, especially for international students. Most of the students first use the OPT program as an interim measure as then go for H-1B but some F-1 students are lucky enough and change their status directly from a student to H-1B by getting suitable h1b visa jobswith companies.
Since the H-1B visa is used to only give a temporary worker status to the person who is a professional and holds a four-year degree or the equivalent in the experience. The status of an H-1B is initially granted for only 3 years and can be extended up to six years. If the person wishes to change the employer, then the new employer must file a new petition on behalf of him. The employee may then start working for a new employer as soon as the new employer has successfully filed their petition and received by the USCIS.