What Work Can a Student Visa Holder Do While Waiting for H-1B Visa Authorization?

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Many student visa holders ultimately wish to remain in the United States to work after they finish their studies. One of the most straightforward ways that student visa holders become authorized to remain in the United States following the expiration of their student visas is obtaining H-1B visas. This system can be uniquely beneficial for companies who hope to hire recent graduates who are qualified to work in specialty occupations and apply for an H-1B visa.

However, the transition period between when you apply for an H-1B visa and being granted work authorization can be a frustrating one. After all, it can be challenging to know whether or not to offer or withhold certain employment opportunities that may present themselves before a H-1B is approved. As a result, it is important to understand upfront what kinds of work student visa holders can accept and engage in both after you apply for an H-1B visa and while waiting for H-1B visa approval and after one is authorized.

Work Under a Student Visa

While students are still enrolled in an academic program, they may request authorization to work in a temporary employment position directly related to their area of study. This work exception is referred to as an Optional Practical Training authorization and may only be issued after proper documentation is submitted to USCIS. In general, students may also partake in certain on-campus jobs at any time but may not work off-campus during their first year of study.

Until a H-1B Visa is authorized or an OPT opportunity is approved, student visa holders may generally only work off-campus if they have a qualifying emergent circumstance or economic hardship. In order to qualify, these circumstances must generally be new and beyond a visa holder’s control. Once an offer of employment is extended however, student visa holders may petition to have their immigration status altered so that they can work under a broader set of circumstances.

Work Under a H-1B Visa

H-1B visas allow foreign workers to be employed in specialty occupations. In order to be considered “specialty,” the occupation must generally require highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor and require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum. A H-1B holder must have a sponsorship for employment. And should employment with that sponsor be terminated, the visa holder must find another sponsor, petition for a change in immigration status or leave the U.S. within a specified number of days.

If your company requires employees to possess highly specialized knowledge (such as medicine, economics, research or the arts), you may qualify to serve as a sponsoring employee for a student visa holder wishing to seek employment in the United States after graduation. Your immigrant visa status is critical in order to work in the US.

Questions or Concerns?

If you have questions about what kinds of work your current immigration status permits or if you are a business concerned about what kinds of workers you are allowed to employ, please do not hesitate to reach out to the team at LawTrades. Our experienced professionals can help guide you through the particulars of your situation and immigrant visa status. LawTrades can help to explain any opportunities and/or restrictions that may apply to you or your business.