Upon completing your course of studies, your student visa will typically expire and you are supposed to return to your country of residency. However, under certain circumstances, you are allowed to extend the terms of your student visa. If you do not extend your visa and remain in the United States, then you will be here illegal and will not be afforded the protection and benefits of the states (such as gaining employment or traveling).
I just Graduated, Now What?
If you want to stay in the United States upon graduating and finishing the purpose of your original student visa, you have six general options.
- Obtain a F-1 student visa: F-1 student visa is for students who completed their course of studies. It allows them to remain in the United States for 1 year to get practical training.
- Obtain a H-3 trainee visa: H-3 trainee visa is for people who did not have prior education or training. It allows them to come to the United States for 2 years with the intent to get training and bringing the knowledge back to their home country. You cannot renew this type of visa.
- Obtain a H-1B work visa: H1-B is a work-sponsored visa, in which the visa holder may sponsor their spouse and children to stay in the United States with them. The person must have gained employment through a United States company (contrast with L-1 visa).
- Obtain a R-1 religious worker visa: R-1 is for people coming to the United States on a religious mission.
- Obtain a E-1 investment visa: E-1 is for people making a significant investment.
- Obtain an L-1 intercompany transfer visa: L-1 is a temporary visa for people who have gained employment in a foreign country where they have offices in the United States. These visas allow the foreign nationals to come into the United States to complete a project that their employer has in the United States.
Can I Obtain a Green Card and Be a Permanent Resident?
Obtaining a green card is a long process. The United States only grants green cards in specific instances, including: employment sponsorship, diversity immigrants, and for refugees and asylum.
Consulting an Attorney
If you want to extend your student visa stay in the United States, then you should consult an immigration lawyer. He can assess the options available to you, file your necessary court papers, and represent you at your immigration hearings.