Getting a Visa after graduating from an American college. What are your options?

As an international student, one of the most important issues you must take care of is your visa status after your student visa expires. There are many different types of student visas, and depending which one you are on, there may be a chance to extend the student visa, or apply for a work visa before it expires.

Types of Student Visas

  • F1 Visa – For study at an SEVP certified academic institution.
    •  This visa expires at the end of the program of study.
  • F3 Visa- For individuals who reside in Canada or Mexico and commute to the United States to attend an academic program.
    •  This visa is valid for the length of the program and expires at the end of the program of study.
  • H3 Visa- For trainees  allows foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States as either a:
    • Trainee to receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in the foreign national’s home country.
    • Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
    • The trainee may be allowed to remain in the United States for up to 2 years. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may remain in the United States for up to 18 months.
  • J1 Visa- The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs.
    • The J1 visa expires at the end of the program.
  • M1 Visa- The M-1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools.
    • The M1 visa expires at the end of the program.
  • M3 Visa- The M-1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for Canada and Mexico residents who commute to the United States vocational and technical schools.
    • The M3 visa expires at the end of the program.
  • P2 Visa- For Artists or Entertainers participating in a Cultural Exchange Program
    • The P2 visa expires at the end of the program
  • Visa- Cultural exchange visitor program through an organization designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    • The Q visa expires at the end of the program.

Types of U.S. Work Visa 

Upon graduation or expiration of the programs above, many options exist to continue to stay in the United States and work.  These include:

H1B Visa for speciality occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher: This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

For the H1B Speciality Occupations:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • To learn more about the H1B visa and it’s requirements, click H1B Visa Requirements

E3 Visa for Australian Nationals: 

  • The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. You must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. To learn more about E3 visas and the requirements, click E3 Visa Requirements

I Visa for Foreign Media or Journalists:

  • Represent a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media).
  • To learn more about I visa requirements, click Journalist/Media Visa Requirements

O1 Visa For Arts, Science, Film and Television and Business

  • The O1 Visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.  To learn more about the O1 Visa click O1 Visa Requirements

O1B Visa for Art Industry, Entertainment Industry, Music Industry Professionals

  • The O1B visa, also known as the Artist Visa is for individuals who have achieved distinction in the arts or entertainment industry.  To learn more about the O1B visa requirements, click O1B Artist Visa

P1 Visa for Internationally Recognized Athlete

  • The P-1 classification applies to you if you are coming to the U.S. to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
  • To learn more about P1 Visa Requirements, click P1 Visa For Athletes

P1B Visa is for A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

P-3 Visa for an Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program

  • To learn more about P3 visa requirements click P3 Visa

R-1 Visa  for Religious Workers– This visa is for a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week).

TN Visa for citizens of Canada or Mexico.  Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.

Getting a Student Visa after graduating. What are your options?