How to Stay in the US After Graduation


Title: How to Stay in the US After Graduation: A Comprehensive Guide


Graduating from a university in the United States is a significant achievement, but for many international students, the desire to stay and build a career in the country becomes a pressing concern. While the process may seem complex, understanding the available options and requirements can help you navigate the path to remaining in the US after graduation successfully. In this article, we will discuss various pathways and provide essential information on how to prolong your stay in the US.

1. Optional Practical Training (OPT):

a. What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a program that allows international students to work in the US for up to 12 months after completing their studies. OPT is available for students who have maintained lawful F-1 student status and completed at least one academic year of full-time study at a US university.

b. How to apply for OPT?
To apply for OPT, you must obtain a recommendation from your designated school official (DSO) and submit Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is advisable to consult your university’s international student office for detailed instructions and timelines.

2. STEM OPT Extension:

a. What is STEM OPT Extension?
The STEM OPT Extension is an extension of the regular OPT program, specifically designed for students graduating with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. It allows an additional 24 months of work authorization in the US.

b. How to qualify for STEM OPT Extension?
To be eligible for the STEM OPT Extension, you must have completed a qualifying STEM degree and work for an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program. Additionally, the employer must provide a formal training plan, and you must apply within 90 days of the expiration of your initial OPT.

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3. H-1B Visa:

a. What is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. It is a popular option for international graduates seeking long-term employment in the US.

b. How to obtain an H-1B Visa?
To secure an H-1B visa, you must find an employer willing to sponsor your application. The employer must file a petition on your behalf, demonstrating that the position requires specialized knowledge and that you possess the necessary qualifications. Due to annual quotas, known as the H-1B cap, it is advisable to start the application process early.

4. O-1 Visa:

a. What is an O-1 Visa?
The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This visa allows you to work temporarily in the US based on your exceptional achievements.

b. How to qualify for an O-1 Visa?
To be eligible for an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in your field of expertise. You will need to provide evidence of your extraordinary ability, such as awards, media coverage, or letters of recommendation from experts in your field.


Q1. Can I apply for a green card after graduation?
Yes, you can apply for a green card (permanent residency) after graduation. The process may vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as employment sponsorship or family-based sponsorship. It is recommended to consult an immigration attorney to understand the best pathway for your situation.

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Q2. Is it possible to change my visa status after graduation?
Yes, you can change your visa status after graduation. However, the availability and requirements for changing visa status depend on various factors, such as the visa category you wish to switch to and your individual circumstances. Consulting an immigration attorney is advisable to ensure a smooth transition.

Q3. Are there any other visa options for entrepreneurs after graduation?
Yes, there are visa options for entrepreneurs after graduation, such as the E-2 visa for treaty investors or the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in business. Each visa category has specific requirements, and consulting an immigration attorney with expertise in business immigration is recommended.


Staying in the US after graduation is a desire shared by many international students. By understanding the available options, including OPT, STEM OPT Extension, H-1B visa, and O-1 visa, you can make informed decisions regarding your future in the US. Remember to consult with your university’s international student office and an immigration attorney to ensure you meet all the requirements and navigate the process successfully. With careful planning and perseverance, you can pave the way for a fulfilling career in the United States.