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How Foreign Students Can Secure a Job and Work Legally in the U.S.

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Yes, international students can work in the USA!

If you are a foreign student in the U.S., you are likely aware that you can work in the country legally. There are several ways to do this. You can apply for a student visa, a temporary work visa, and even the Green Card Lottery.

Working on a student (F-1) visa.

For international students, there are some key things to remember when it comes to working on a student visa in the United States. You can get work experience while you are still in school, but you must know exactly what you are doing. Otherwise, you can endanger your educational efforts, your finances, and your ability to return to the country.

The F-1 visa is the most common type of foreign student visa. Students on an F-1 visa are allowed to work in the country, but there are certain limitations and requirements. F-1 visa students can work on-campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week during school breaks.

If you are an F-1 student, you might be able to work off campus. It is important to understand that F-1 visa students must obtain authorization from their school's international students office before starting any off-campus employment, and it is important for F-1 visa students to comply with all regulations to avoid jeopardizing their status in the U.S. (and even face deportation).

Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Another option available to international students studying in the U.S is the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. Optional Practical Training is a work authorization for students who have completed their degree program. It is designed to allow foreign students to get real-world experience in their field of study. It allows students to work in the United States after graduation in a job closely related to the field they studied. It can be used by for up to 12 months after graduation plus an extra 24 months' extension for qualified students, making it a potential total of 3 years of employment.

During OPT, students are allowed to work for any employer in the U.S. in a job that is related to their field of study. The work must be for at least 20 hours per week, and students can even work for multiple employers or change employers during their OPT period.

Again, it is important to note that there are limitations to OPT and it is important for students to comply with all requirements.

Options for students after OPT.

There are options available to foreign students after they complete their OPT in the United States. Two popular options are the STEM OPT Extension and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

STEM OPT Extension: International students who have completed a degree in any science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field may be eligible for a 24-month extension to their OPT. This allows them to continue working for their current employer or seek new employment opportunities in the United States.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training): International students who are still enrolled in a degree program may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which allows them to work off-campus in a field related to their studies while they are still enrolled.

The H1-B program.

The H1-B program is a popular way for foreign students to continue working in the country and (potentially) to obtain a green card, or legal permanent residence.

The H-1B visa is a temporary work visa that allows international students to work in the U.S. for up to six years after completing their studies. To be eligible for an H-1B visa, the student must have a job offer from a U.S. employer, and the job must be in a specialized field that requires a bachelor's degree or higher.

An important advantage to this program is that H-1B visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency (a "green card") during the time they are authorized to work in the U.S. An employer can sponsor an H-1B holder for permanent residency by filing a petition on their behalf.

The Green Card Lottery as an option.

If you are an international student studying in the United States, you can also take advantage of the Green Card Lottery. (You can also participate if you are outside the U.S.) This annual program is administered by the U.S. State Department and gives you the opportunity to obtain a green card, which is equivalent to legal permanent residency with the right to work in the country. Learn if you satisfy the requirements and then apply.

If you are selected, you will be able to work in the U.S. mostly without restrictions. Green card holders have the right to work for any employer in the U.S. and in any legal job, except for certain government positions that require U.S. citizenship. But you can apply for U.S. citizenship within 3-5 years if you so desire.

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