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AlezzzAlezzz 188 replies16 threads Junior Member
Hello All. I trying to understand value of Optional Practical Training (OPT) ability for international.
As I got STEM graduate can work in USA up to 3 years. But does he have same labor rights as Green Card holders?
Can he get same job with same salary as them?
What will happen after OPT finished? I mean in practical cases, I understand that by rules it is need to go out from USA. But probably exist some other abilities?
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Replies to: OPT

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10435 replies123 threads Senior Member
    Let me start by saying that I'm in now way an expert so due your own due diligence. My experience is with my husband's company and their struggles to get a long time employee finally through the H1B visa process.

    OPT allows an international student to work in the US for 12 months, with STEM students being able to extend for 24 more month. International students can't stay and work in the US without OPT. You'd have to leave the country within 60 days of graduation without OPT.

    After that, the company needs to sponsor the international employee for an H1B visa. The problem is, it has become increasingly difficult for US companies to navigate through the process with the current administration and the number of H1B visas is much more restricted than in years past. It's also part lottery now. My husband's last company had to go through so many years of red tape and re-appeals for an employee, that they stopped hiring international applicants entirely.

    From: https://usvisagroup.com/ways-international-student-extend-stay/
    "An international student can transfer their F-1 student visa status to an H-1B status with the help of a sponsoring US employer. The H-1B status allows the graduate student to live and work in the United States for up to six years. To be eligible for this type of visa, you must prove to USCIS that you are uniquely qualified for the position in the company because of your field of study."

    Here's info from the government on the caps: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2020-cap-season

    The bottom line is that it is not an easy process to stay and work in the US, and it's a very long road to a Green Card.

    The US government doesn't want companies trying to undercut salaries by hiring internationals, so salaries must be equivalent.

    The challenge is getting hired in the first place because there are legal costs to the company to sponsor employees through the H1B process.

    And no, an international employee working on F1/OPT or an H1B visa does not have the same rights as a US green card holder. H1B visas are only valid for 6 years and then there would need to be a petition by the company for an extension. A Green Card holder becomes a permanent resident and can stay and work in the country indefinitely.

    The international student office at your student's college should be able to clarify the process further.

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  • AlezzzAlezzz 188 replies16 threads Junior Member
    @momofsenior1 Big thanks for your response. It helpful because now in front of my son is hard choice what to select - better university in Europe or essentially lower ranked university in USA, but giving then OPT. Difficult to compare.
    I understand that it is not an easy process to stay and work in the US. But unfortunately with our citizenship it is not an easy process to stay and work anywhere. In any case will be a lot of efforts and roadblocks.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10435 replies123 threads Senior Member
    I'm not familiar with university or working after the fact in Europe at all so can't help with that decision. Hopefully others here will chime in.

    Maybe worth having your son contact each school's international offices to discuss post graduation employment options more thoroughly.

    Good luck with the decision!
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  • AlezzzAlezzz 188 replies16 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for your wishes.
    Working after abilities in USA are definitely better than in Europe. That I can say after clarification.
    So for us it is choice between better education and better employment options after.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30858 replies198 threads Senior Member
    Canada has better work permission for students after they graduate. Immigration there is based on a formula. Read more about that as well. If your child needs a new permanent location, Canada might be a better option. I know it is too late for fall admission in Canada, but your child should find out the details in case there is a change of plans.
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  • AlezzzAlezzz 188 replies16 threads Junior Member
    @happymomof1 Thank you, but he haven't big interest to Canada for the first. And if he will decide to immigrate to Canada after graduation, he will easy do it and without education in canadian university. Perfect English, perfect for immigration age, grade from recognized university already will give him enough immigration points. No need in addon from local education
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10276 replies175 threads Senior Member
    But does he have same labor rights as Green Card holders?
    Not quite. There's a few important differences between OPT and a green card:

    - OPT employment has to be related to the student's degree program.
    - Only employers enrolled in E-Verify may employ a worker on OPT STEM Extension.
    - Many government jobs require US citizenship or a green card.
    - Some private-sector jobs that deal with sensitive technologies with military applications (e.g. aerospace engineering) are restricted to "US persons" for security reasons, which excludes OPT employees.
    - The OPT STEM Extension was introduced via regulation, not by law. That means that an administration anathema to foreign workers can abolish it without going through the legislative process. Green card holders enjoy a much higher level of protection.

    And of course, since OPT is limited in time, many employers prefer not to hire OPT students at all.

    On the flip side, it is much easier to enter the US labor market with a US university degree and OPT than with a foreign degree and no initial work permit. So from that perspective, it still makes sense to get a university degree in the US to keep your options open.
    What will happen after OPT finished? I mean in practical cases, I understand that by rules it is need to go out from USA. But probably exist some other abilities?
    There's 4 practical pathways to stay and work in the US after OPT.

    - Marry a US citizen, get a marriage-based green card.
    - The employer sponsors an H-1B work visa. However, there's a lottery for those and you may not win.
    - The employer sponsors an O-1 visa. That requires higher qualifications than an H-1B (successful applicants often have a PhD) but does not involve a lottery.
    - The employer sponsors an employment-based green card. (For a variety of reasons, employers usually prefer to sponsor a temporary work visa first and the EB green card later. It would be unusual to go directly from OPT to an EB green card.)

    Certain highly-qualified workers (such as physicians and researchers) can self-petition for an employment-based green card without a sponsoring employer. That's most commonly done via "National Interest Waiver."
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  • AlezzzAlezzz 188 replies16 threads Junior Member
    @[email protected]!um Big thanks for such detailed answer.
    Can you please clarify one thing about O-1 visa. Can man with PhD from high ranked foreign U enter USA job market without any previous US experience - no study, no work? I mean without lottery, marriage or big luck.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30858 replies198 threads Senior Member
    O-1 is for a person with "extraordinary ability". This probably is not someone with a new PhD, but rather a person with multiple years of experience after finishing the PhD and an established reputation in the field of study.
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  • geraniolgeraniol 170 replies1 threads Junior Member
    The level of 'extraordinary ability' for O and EB visas depends a bit on your country of origin.

    I know several PhDs who applied for EB-1 or EB-2 visas during their post-doctoral years. For Chinese and Indian nationals, they needed much more extraordinary accomplishments than others like Canadians or South Koreans. This is simply because of the number of applicants. There are a lot of online forums and websites of immigration law firms specializing in EB and O visas that will give you a better idea of what's required.

    There are ways to apply for EB visas without employer sponsorship (through national interest waiver), but you'll need an immigration lawyer to help and the affidavit needed to demonstrate 'extraordinary ability' is very extensive. The PhDs I knew who got EB visas and were from high-demand countries had Science/Nature/Cell papers with >500 total citations and H-indices in the 20-40 range - this is with only a PhD and 2-3 years postdoc. So publishing on average 5 papers a year at least with high, immediate impact in their field of research from the start of graduate school.

    Non-profits, academic institutions and government jobs are exempt from the H1B quota. However the vast majority jobs are in private industry so if H1B is the only option to transition to permanent employment after OPT has ended, then it's really risky.

    For graduates who are very hirable (unique skills that are ideally matched to the job opening), OPT means that a company can take the risk and hire that person for at least the period of the OPT. Companies will very rarely consider hiring an entry-level employee who does not already have the right to work long-term in the USA. Experienced employees (>8 years) is a different situation.

    It's not that difficult to become E-Verified as a small business, and I know of people who have been self-employed or joined very early-stage start-ups during OPT.
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