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What International Students Do After Graduation

A yellow wooden door with a brown sign that reads "Office of International Programs" on it
Photo by Grayson Morris

Graduation season is usually met by anxiety, excitement and hope for the future. This may look a little bit different for international students since they have just a bit more that they have to do.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

After graduation, international students have the option of working in the United States for up to a year using a program commonly known as OPT. This program allows students to work in their area of study for a specific employer for a specific amount of time. Students must work at least 20 hours per week within this program and are typically responsible for sourcing the job themselves though some departments/colleges help with the process.

The great news for Meredith College international students is that they have supportive and helpful staff at the Office of International Programs (OIP) that assist them in every way possible to make sure they are not left behind in these processes. The office hosts workshops that help with the types of work visas that students can apply for, job search strategies and also talks with immigration lawyers on their options. The OIP can be contacted at for any information on F class visas and will be pointed in the right direction for anything outside their scope.

After this one year of working on OPT, instead of simply remaining in the country and looking for a full-time employer, international students have to find an employer that is willing to sponsor their work visa.

H1B Visa

In order to qualify for this visa, international students have to have their employer petition for them to fill a position in their organization. The basis of this visa is that a bachelor’s degree or higher must be required for a position - the person receiving this visa must possess a body of highly specialized knowledge. Though an employer may be willing to sponsor this visa, it’s important to note that the H1B visa is capped to 65,000 for bachelor’s degrees and 20,000 for master’s degrees per year with applications ranging in the high 400,000. There is no guarantee that you will receive it.

The downside to this visa is that it is obtained for a period of 3 years and a maximum of 6, so for students who are looking for more long-term work options, they’d have to consider their possible paths to obtaining a green card.

The process to get a green card through employment may seem tedious and long but with the right support, it is definitely possible.

Though it may not be an intentional option, if you are an international student who happens to be one of the lucky ones who falls in love and marries someone they meet in college, this is also a great way to get your green card and eventually citizenship.

By Khadejra Golding, Reporter


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