Employment Immigration, F-1, Family Immigration, OPT, Student Visa

OPT is almost finished, what’s next?

Q: I’m on an F-1 OPT visa right now after completing my master’s degree. My OPT finishes in August and I’d like to stay longer. What options would I have?

A:Congratulations on completing your master’s degree, and I hope your OPT internship is going well.

Yes, this is a common situation for F-1 students. As you are likely aware, it does not sound like you would be eligible for a STEM OPT extension, even if you have stem-based OPT since your current program is not valid for an additional 150 days. You may have a few options, though. 
  • Sometimes in your situation, the employer is willing to sponsor an H-1b visa, however, unless your employer is not subject to the H1b cap (for example an institution of Higher Education or related non-profit) the period to apply recently passed. Still, your employer or another employer may be willing to sponsor a visa for you that would begin next year, meaning you would need to spend sometime outside the US in between your OPT and H-1b.
  • In addition to employment options, other immigration options may be available. Family members may be able to sponsor you for permanent resident status in the US. In addition, some people are eligible to apply for a visa if they have have a fear of returning to their home country for certain reasons, or have been a victim of a crime. An immigration attorney could review your complete history to see if you may be eligible for any other types of visas.
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