How long will my student visa last after I graduate?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Immigration Law |

After graduation, many international students wonder how long they can stay in the country on their student visa. The duration of a student visa after graduation depends on the type of visa and the current rules of U.S. immigration policies.

Understanding these rules can help students plan their next steps effectively.

Extending your stay through Optional Practical Training

Most international students in the United States hold an F-1 visa. After graduating, F-1 visa holders usually get a 60-day grace period. During this time, students must either leave the country, change their visa status or enroll in another program to continue their education. Many students use this period to apply for Optional Practical Training.

OPT allows students to work in their field of study for up to 12 months. This period can be a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the United States. For students with degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, there is an option to extend OPT for an additional 24 months. This extension gives STEM graduates a total of 36 months of work authorization under OPT.

Applying for OPT in a timely manner

It is important to apply for OPT before the end of the 60-day grace period. Students should also ensure that their employment is directly related to their field of study. Working in an unrelated field can violate the terms of the OPT and affect the student’s visa status.

After completing OPT, students have a few options. They can return to their home country, apply for a different type of visa, or continue their education in the United States. Some may choose to apply for an H-1B visa, which allows them to work in a specialty occupation. However, obtaining an H-1B visa can be competitive, as there is a yearly cap on the number of visas issued.

Understanding the specific post-graduation visa policies is important for planning a future career. Staying informed about visa status and deadlines can help students take advantage of the opportunities available to them after graduation. International students should carefully consider their options and make plans well before their graduation date to ensure a smooth transition.