Preeya has spent the last 13 years educating people in the GCC about the route taken by an F-1 foreign student, as well as post-graduation strategies including an OPT, H-1B, and US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program – a direct route to permanent residency that many have not heard about. She has provided a thorough summary of the alternatives in this post for students who want to live and work in the US after earning a degree from the US.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
After graduating from a US school, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a first chance to gain full-time, paid work experience in the US. While every student must find employment in their field of study, the length of OPT can range from one to three years based on the degree each student has earned. After the F-1 visa expires or the student graduates, they have 60 days to find a job. Those who are unable to secure employment will be forced to leave the US and go back to their home country.
Since many graduates lack the necessary skills and work experience to qualify for any other type of US employee visa, such as an EB-2 or EB-1C, after their OPT period has ended, they frequently have no other choice but to apply for an H-1B visa through an employer sponsor.
H-1B Employment Visa
Immigrants are able to fill high-skilled job positions because to the H-1B visa. Students must overcome two significant obstacles in order to be granted an H-1B visa: first, they must locate a sponsoring business; second, they must be chosen in the H-1B lottery. “Many of our clients think that their children’s accomplishments and skills will be sufficient to secure an H1-B work visa in the US after graduation. Sadly, it isn’t the case anymore. Being the student with the most talent is insufficient. I am all too aware of the difficulties F-1 international students frequently encounter because I studied there as an F-1 international student. explains Preeya.
The strong demand for H-1B visas has led to oversupply in the category, and H-1B visas are currently distributed through a lottery method. Only 85,000 of the nearly 480,000 individuals that sought for H-1B visas in 2023 were chosen, in accordance with the annual quota. The decision is based solely on chance and not the applicant’s qualifications. The draw relies on chance.
It is crucial to understand that this visa category has its own restrictions, even in the best-case situation if one is successful in finding a sponsor employer and obtaining an H-1B visa. If someone holds an H-1B visa and loses their work, they have a set amount of time to find another job before they are forced to leave the country. Recently, a large number of people with H-1B visas who were employed in the US’s tech sector had to leave the country they had called home for many years due to huge layoffs.
“The job market is extremely volatile, much like the economy. I finished law school in 2008, which was the worst year ever for job hunting due to the global financial crisis and subsequent global recession. Preeya, an F-1 graduate, describes her experience as being tough for citizens to get employment and nearly impossible for international students. “Planning and securing the ability to carry out those plans will leave anyone in a better position should there be another time like 2008, the technological downsizing of 2022 and 2023, or immigration policy changes which may or may not be introduced tomorrow.”
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: A Permanent Option
The EB-5 Program has grown more well-liked among F-1 international students since March 2022. Preeya says that during the past year, “it is safe to say that 90% of our clients have been those families who have children studying in the US, are planning to have their children study in the US, or have children who are just graduating from US Programs.”
Compared to other options, this program offers a relatively simple and sure path to the US Green Card for those families who are able to invest a refundable amount of $800,000 into an EB-5 approved project. The US EB-5 Program offers a straightforward path to obtaining US citizenship as well as permanent residency in the country.
The investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under 21 may all submit applications under this plan. If a child is over 21 years old or if a parent solely wants to use the program for their US-student child, the youngster can be designated as the principal applicant and receive parental gift money for the investment. Many families in the GCC who may already have a child studying in the US on an F-1 visa or who may be on OPT after graduating are using this tactic. If their child who graduated from a US institution tried to seek for a job but was unsuccessful, more and more families are also choosing this path.
When Should You Start The EB-5 Green Card Process?
It can be tempting to wait until a student has graduated from college to determine whether they genuinely want to stay in the country, whether they will have better job options, or whether they will be selected for an H-1B visa. Given the size of the investment, this is understandable. However, after four years or more of study, international students frequently develop a strong desire to remain in the US. The only thing preventing them from pursuing a wide range of career-building options is their visa status if they have worked hard.
As a result, before the child begins his studies in the US or before graduating from a US program, overseas students and their families might gain from understanding how the US immigration system functions. Students can more easily sketch out a realistic professional path with this knowledge. The sooner families choose to begin the application process before the child travels to the US for their studies, the more benefits they can access through the EB-5, including domestic tuition rates and the opportunity to obtain significant work experience while they are studying.
Contact Step Global To Assist In Planning For Your Future
Preeya Malik, the CEO of Step Global, the top immigration consultancy company in the GCC, is providing free consultations to anyone curious about the US EB-5 Green Card Program. Preeya will counsel families on future planning and strategy for the best success for overseas students studying in the US along with her team. Since Step Global is the only company in the GCC working with the top five most reputable EB-5 regional centers, it has the advantage of being able to provide clients all of the greatest EB-5 project possibilities in a single location.