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Employment while you study

Want to work while you’re in the U.S.? Here’s how.

If you hold a F-1 Visa, you are allowed to work in the United States when authorised by a designated school official, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

There are several categories of employment available as an F-1 student in U.S. On-campus employment is the most freely available, while off-campus employment must be related to your area of study and be authorised by the Designated School Official.

In order to work in the U.S., you need a Social Security number (SSN). However, you can still apply for jobs without an SSN and use the job offer to get a SSN after you are hired.

For more information on working in the U.S., visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website.

Working after you graduate

If you want to stay and work in the U.S. after you finish your study, you’ll need to get a new visa first. Navigating through the U.S. immigration process is often challenging as there are many visas and the eligibility requirements, and legal rulings are constantly changing.

There are a few common visa options which are most applicable to graduates.

Practical training on a F-1 Visa
Under this visa, you are entitled to up to one year of post-completion practical training. Authorisation for this type of practical training may be granted for a maximum of 12 months and starts once you have graduated or completed your course of study.

Non-immigrant H-1B Visa (Specialty occupation)
To obtain this classification, you need a U.S. employer to sponsor you, hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification, and the job responsibilities must be relevant to your education and work experience.

Employment-based immigration
To obtain this type of visa, you will need to have a labour certification. This process is often challenging and can take several years to complete, depending on the jurisdiction. An alternative may be to apply under another category, which does not require a labour certification. Most graduates will fall under:

1. First Preference: Priority workers
This category includes the following individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in sciences, art, education, business or athletics; or are outstanding professors and researchers; or are multinational executives and managers.

2. Multinational executives and managers
In order to qualify for permanent residence under this category, managers or executives of companies must have been employed for one of the three years prior to their transfer to the U.S. Additionally, you must have held employment at the overseas company in an executive or managerial role.

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