top of page

Post-grad Work Permits for Students in the USA

Upon graduation, all students holding an F-1 visa can be authorized for employment for up to 12 months under the Optical Training (OPT) program. Students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are eligible for an OPT extension of up to 24 additional months, making this a maximum of 3 years of "work permit" for STEM international students. Non-STEM students only get 12 months before the risk of falling out of legal status. J-1 students in many cases, get up to 30 days only.


If your long-term interest is to continue your career and professional development in the USA after your studies, try to avoid institutions or programs that would only give you a J-1 visa. While you may not know the visa you may get at the beginning of your application process, it may be a question worth asking a current student or beneficiary of the scholarship you are applying for in that university. You may also find out from the international student office of the institution as they are usually in charge of processing official admission documents. The F-1 visa is the best form of student visa for a long-term stay.


Once the OPT period ends, graduates must find an employer willing to sponsor them for a work visa (such as an H-1B visa) in