Foreign Nationals that Graduate from American Colleges Benefit from Immigration Legal Counsel

Foreign nationals who graduate from U.S. universities later this year will want to know their legal rights and duties to stay in the country for work. Undergraduate and graduate students who have F-1 non-immigrant status and have finished their studies oftentimes want to work in America to get real world experience in their field of studies. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service allows for one year of Optional Practical Training, or OPT. If the student desires to stay and work here longer, then the individual will need to apply for H-1B status.

The H-1B status typically lasts for three years, with an ability to extend it out to six years. Individuals who desire permanent residency are advised to apply for a green card as soon as possible because of the huge amount of applicants. The United States encourages employers to hire foreign nationals to work in specialized jobs. H-1B petitions are capped at an annual amount of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Up to 20,000 more H-1B visas are also available for students who graduate with a master’s degree or higher level of education. The next open application period is right around the corner and begins April 1. From there, the USCIS will release the visa numbers on October 1 and the foreign national may then begin working.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates are particularly sought after. These type of workers, known as STEM, are allowed a 17 month extension on their OPT to HB-1 status. Be mindful that the extension is only applicable with employers that use the e-verify federal employment verification system. And since the extension is not automatic, students will have to get an extension recommendation from their designated school official, or DSO. With the recommendation, the student will need to file an employment authorization application before their OPT expires.

STEM and specialty jobs involve theoretical and practical knowledge for higher-level industries. Computer science, engineering, business, bioscience, math and statistics, military technologies, science technologies, and medical experts are in high demand.

Recent “cap-gap relief” measures are helping foreign nationals remain legally in the country. Students can be relieved that their OPT status will be automatically extended if they filed for HB-1 in a timely manner. Again, students must alert their DSO that they have filed a H-1B petition in a timely fashion. In turn, the DSO will give the student an I-20 form showing the individual’s status extension.

In Texas, for example, Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee counsels many foreign national graduates from top-tier schools such as Rice University, the University of Texas, the University of Houston, Texas A & M, Baylor University, and many of the region’s medical and health science schools. Their impact on the regional and national workforce and economy is immense. Proper planning and expert legal counsel to successfully transition from a student to a worker is critical. She has represented clients for more than 10 years in immigration law matters both in Texas and throughout the United States.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at