What Are the Options for F-1 Students to Work After Graduation?

Are you an international student trying to find a job in the U.S. after graduation? Get your answers in this guide.
Siam Hossain
6 min


Are you an international student in the US who has just freshly graduated? You must have stumbled upon this article because you’re trying to figure out how to work in the US after graduation. You may also be wondering how long you can stay in the US after graduation, as an international student.

Well, in the US, several regulations must be followed by international students while working. We understand how this may concern you and cause confusion. However, these rules aren’t nearly as complicated as you think they are! There are a few ways to go about this and we assure that you’ll understand these clearly once you’ve read through our guide.

In this article, we will answer all your questions regarding this topic and more! Let us dive deeper into the details so you no longer need to think of ways of staying in the US after your F-1 visa expires.

How to Work and Stay in the U.S. Legally After Graduation

There are few methods to work and stay in the US legally after graduation ranging from post-completion OPT, STEM OPT extension, H-1B Visa, and Green card. We'll explore each:


OPT is a temporary form of employment relating to a student's field of study where eligible students may receive upwards of 12 months of OPT employment (allowing international students to work and stay in the US for 12 months).

Post-graduate international students can only apply for post-completion OPT. To apply for OPT after graduation, you need to make sure your employment is related to your field of study. Furthermore, you must be deemed eligible for the program by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Visit this USCIS site for detailed instructions and information regarding OPT for F-1 Students.

STEM OPT Extension

According to the DHS: "The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field".

To be eligible for this extension, your employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify program, and you must be a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) degree graduate. You can find the complete list of STEM-designated degrees here.

We urge you to read through this thorough guideline by USCIS regarding STEM OPT extension before applying. In addition, check our FAQ section here.

H-1B Visa

With the help of the U.S. employers sponsoring , international students can expect to transfer their F-1 student visa status to an H-1B status. This will allow you to work and live in the US for up to 6 years. Similar to OPT and STEM OPT extensions, you must be deemed eligible by the USCIS.

To be eligible, you need to qualify as an experienced candidate for the position you are aiming for (must be the same as your field of study). Furthermore, your employer should file a labor condition with the Department of Labor (ensuring fair work hours & wages). After successfully completing 5 years of employment in the same company, you can request your employer to file for an employment-based permanent residency.

Note: Changing your job within the 6-year period will result in having to re-apply for the H-1B visa.

Green Card

Most non-natives in the US who plan on staying permanently will try to obtain a green card. This allows them to find employment anywhere in the US, receive financial benefits, and permanently reside in the country.

As an international student in the US, it will automatically be easier for you to receive your green card permit. However, it is still very high in demand and therefore is difficult to obtain, often taking several years.

There are several ways to apply for a green card such as being sponsored by an employer, being sponsored by relatives who are business owners, participating in US military services, receiving parent/child sponsorship, etc. Visit this in-depth Green Card Eligibility guideline on the USCIS website before applying.

There're a few paths which can lead to the permanent residency:

  1. EB-1 Visa - first preference employment-based visa for individuals with extraordinary talents
  2. EB-2 NIW - second preference employment-based visa (National Interest Waiver) for the individuals with a advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field
  3. EB-2 & EB-3 - second and third preference employment-based visas for skilled professionals and academics (EB-2) and for professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers

How to Find Work After Graduation

Is your graduation date coming up, and fast? According to US laws, international students have limited time to stay in the country after their graduation. The only way to secure a longer stay will be to find work after graduation.

But, we all know how difficult this can be. However, do not fret. Here are some proven tactics you can also use to find work in the US after graduation as an international student:

Start the Process Early

It is important that you begin the job search process as early as possible. Don’t wait until you are completely done with your college degree. Instead, start the job search well before you graduate (around 1 year prior to graduation) by talking to your university’s career center advisors. They should be able to guide you regarding the resources/assistance available to all international students.

Employers look for more than good grades when it comes to talent hunting. They will often prioritize an individual’s skills and experiences over their grades if they see that they can provide value to the organization. Therefore, if you have specific skills you have garnered over the years as a hobby, it may very well be what leads to your first corporate job.

There are quite a few organizations in the US that will sponsor work visas. This is an amazing opportunity for you as it will allow you to gain experience while also extending your stay in the US.

Attend Career Fairs

There are uncountable benefits of attending career fairs, such as:

  • Gaining access to free seminars and workshops
  • Practicing interview skills
  • Educating yourself on the job opportunities in your specific industry
  • Getting your resume brushed up
  • Networking with professionals/employers (this brings us to our next point)

Learn more from our guide on "Making the Most of the Job Fairs: Key Networking Strategies for OPT Students".

Utilize Networking or Find Professional Mentors

Over 80% of all job offers in the U.S. come through networking. This alone shows how valuable networking can be. By building a strong network with potential employers, you will not only expose yourself to several job opportunities in your industry but will also gain tons of knowledge, career advice, and support. One of the primary skills you'll need to strengthen will be a small talk.


Job hunting can be very stressful for a freshly graduated international student in the US. Hopefully, we’ve provided answers and reliable sources for most of your queries regarding this topic.

While there are employment opportunities for international students who are graduating, it can still be quite a hassle. This is why Algorizin exists! Algorizin is a platform that assists international students to land their dream jobs in the US, hassle-free.

Whether you’re searching for OPT opportunities, STEM OPT extension, or you simply want to change your student visa status, Algorizin can help you. We have helped many other international students, like yourself, to land high-paying jobs and live out their American dreams. Moreover, there are no upfront costs until you get employed.

If you're looking for jobs as an international student in the US who has graduated/are close to graduating, especially in the STEM field, be sure to reach out to us and apply to join our next cohort.


Can International students work in the U.S. after graduation?

International students can work in the US after graduating via post-completion OPT, STEM OPT extension, H-1B Visa, and Green Card permit. However, they must obtain the work authorization first.

Can International students work in the U.S.?

International students can work in the U.S. both while studying and post-graduation. Both scenarios have several options including CPT, OPT, STEM OPT extension, H-1B status, green card, etc.

How long can international students stay in the US after graduation?

International students are only allowed to stay for up to 60 days in the U.S. after finishing their college degrees. This is so that they are able to wrap up their affairs or perhaps partake in tourism.

What do international students do after graduation?

In most cases, international students will jump onto looking for job openings and opportunities to try and extend their F-1 visa status. This is mainly because they are allowed to stay 60 days after graduation.

Can you intern as an international student after graduation?

After graduation, international students on an F-1 visa can engage in internships through Optional Practical Training (OPT). Unlike Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which is utilized during the study, OPT allows graduates to work in their field of study for up to 12 months, extendable by 24 months for STEM fields. Internships can form part of this practical training, offering real-world experience post-graduation.

How hard is it to get a work visa in the U.S.?

Obtaining a work visa in the U.S., such as the H-1B, can be challenging due to the limited number of visas issued annually and the competitive nature of the application process. Transitioning from a student visa (F-1) to a work visa requires careful planning and often hinges on securing employer sponsorship. Get a better understand on how to change student visa to work visa in the USA by reading Algorizin's guide to H1B.

What are the options after OPT expires?

Read the full article to learn about the options when your OPT expires: Best Alternatives for Work Authorization Post-OPT Expiration.

Are there any specific industries or sectors more open to hiring international students?

The technology sector is notably receptive to offering OPT jobs for international students, especially those with STEM degrees. Data show high employment rates for international students in tech companies, including giants like Amazon and Google, reflecting the industry's demand for skilled professionals. Please, check the USCIS's H1B employer data hub.

Can F1 students apply for a green card?

F1 students can apply for a green card, but the process is complex and often requires transitioning to a dual-intent visa like the H-1B. The path to permanent residency typically involves employer sponsorship, marriage to a U.S. citizen, or other qualifying circumstances.

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