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Immigration Issues for Graduating Foreign Students – VIDEO

Deutsch Killea and Eapen, Immigration Law Firm, advises many foreign students how to remain in the United States after they complete their studies. A good immigration attorney can advise on the pathway to permanent residence.

There are 2 main issues to deal with:

First, how does a graduating student become a permanent resident?, and

Second, since the permanent residence process can take years to complete, how do we keep this graduate in the U.S., with work permission, in the interim?

The most common pathway for a graduating foreign student is:

  1. Get your 1-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) work permit when you are graduating. A STEM degree student, one with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics, can extend his or her OPT work permit for another 2 years.
  2. During your OPT time, find an internship or employment in a field related to your degree major.
  3. If things work out with the internship or employment, ask the employer to file an application for you to change your status to H-1B (professional worker) status, which will give you work permission for up to 6 years, and
  4. If things continue to work out at your job, then ask the employer to sponsor you for US permanent residence. As explained, a permanent residence case can take many years to complete, so you would need to remain in the H-1B (professional worker) nonimmigrant status during most of those years.

So this is the path taken by most graduating F-1 and J-1 students: graduation, then OPT work permit, then H-1B (professional worker) status, then sponsorship by an employer for permanent residence.

Other legal paths to permanent residence, would include sponsorship by a close family member such as a spouse, child or parent.

The permanent residence process is very complex legally, so be sure to consult about it with a competent and accessible immigration attorney.


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