Studying abroad can be one of the best and most exciting ways to earn your undergraduate degree. Not only are you exposed to knowledge; you’re exposed to a new culture with different traditions and customs as well.
Those international students who have been studying in the United States who think they would like to stay in the country after completing their undergraduate degree should understand their visa requirements and restrictions. But navigating the American immigration process can be confusing and stressful, mainly because eligibility requirements and legal rulings are always changing, and because there are many different kinds of visas.
Listed below are the most common options available to recent international graduates.
Practical Training on an F-1 Visa
After completing their course of study, F-1 students are typically allowed to spend up to one full year of post-completion practical training. To get the proper application forms, speak to someone in the international students’ department of your college or university. They should also be able to help you determine which practical training option is right for your particular situation.
Non-Immigrant H-3 Visa (Trainee)
For those individuals who do not have appropriate education or work experience, an H-3 trainee visa is the best option. This visa allows applicants to come to America to train in a particular field and then take that knowledge and training back to their home country once their visa has ended.
This visa is valid for a period of two full years but cannot be extended or transferred to H-1B/L status (see below). In order to qualify for an H-3 visa, an individual must secure training from a U.S. employer who has an already established training program.
Non-Immigrant H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupation)
There are 3 minimum requirements all individuals must meet to obtain this visa.
- A U.S. employer must sponsor the applicant
- Applicant must have a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent
- There must be a correlation between the job duties and the applicant’s education and work experience.
In addition to these requirements, the applicant must also get the approval of a labor condition attestation from the Department of Labor before filling out their H-1B application with the Immigration & Naturalization Service.
The H-1B visa allows an initial 3-year period but can be extended an additional 3 years. However, this visa cannot be extended past the 6-year period. Spouses and children who are minors automatically obtain H-4 visas, which allow them to accompany the applicant to the United States and attend school, but not work in the country.
Non-Immigrant R-1 Visa (Religious Worker)
This category of visa is meant for individuals who are either working in a professional capacity in a religious occupation, or working for a religious organization in a religious occupation. Applicants must be able to prove they have been a member of the religious faith/denomination for at least 2 years. This visa is good for an initial 3 years and may be extended up to 2 additional years. Note: The U.S. employer must be able to prove it has tax exemption status.
Non-Immigrant E-1/E-2 Visa (Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor)
Nationals from countries who have entered into treaties with the United States are eligible for the treaty trader/treaty Investor visas. The biggest requirement in obtaining this visa is that at least 51% of the company’s trade must be between the United States and the treaty country.
The visa is typically granted for a 5-year period with 2-year increments upon each entry. These visas may be extended so long as there is a need for the applicant to direct and control the U.S. enterprise and the concern remains viable.
Non-Immigrant L-1 Visa (Intracompany Transfer)
This transferee visa is for international companies that have offices in the United States and would like to transfer certain employees here on a temporary basis. This visa is designed for executives and upper management with a maximum admission of 7 years, or for employees possessing specialized knowledge with a maximum admission of 5 years.
Should the U.S. subsidiary be a newly established office, the applicant will only be admitted for an initial period of 1 year. Applications for extensions must be accompanied by documentation that demonstrates future business activity and an increase in personnel.
Non-Immigrant Obtaining a “Green Card”
Most graduates wonder how they can get a green card through employment. To obtain this type of visa, an applicant must first obtain a labor certification. This is a difficult process and can take several years to complete, which is why the above visa types may be your best option.
Immigration Medical Exam
Medical examinations in the United States are typically required for adjustment of status cases and may also be required for requests for “V” nonimmigrant status. UrgentWay has six locations throughout the New York City area and you can simply walk in to have one of our certified doctors perform your immigration medical exam.
You can find a full list of all non-immigrant and immigrant visas here.