Work after study in USA
Updated on Mar 9, 2015 - 11:35 a.m. IST by None #United States of America
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Most of the study abroad aspirants have immigration in mind when they apply in a foreign university. While some countries have stringent rules that provide least chances for the students to stay back after completing the course, a few have visa policies that help the international students to find a job after studies. USA is an immigration friendly country that allows international students to work after studies. The article looks into visa norms of the USA for international students who wish to find a job in the country after completing higher studies.

The F-1 non-immigrant student visa allows the students to take up on-campus work up to 20 hours per week in the first nine months. Once the student completes the course, he/she has the following employment opportunities:

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The OPT established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) allows international students to stay back in the US after completing the course. The OPT employment needs authorization from USCIS and from the school’s International Student Office.OPT allows the students to work for 12 months in total after completing the course in the USA. The students can apply for OPT nine months after starting their course.

However, the students cannot start working till they receive Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. However, the students can start working only after completing one year of studies. It is not compulsory that the students need a job offer while applying for OPT EAD. The OPT allows the students to work anywhere in the USA. The students must start the application process for OPT EAD early (as soon as completing first nine months in the US university). The OPT takes 90 days to process the application. The students have to work closely with the International Student’s Office during the processing of the OPT EAD to avoid delays and problems.


The students can be authorised to 12 month full time OPT at different levels of study. For example, a student can join for an undergraduate programme, complete it and do 12 months OPT. Then he can join for a graduate course and is eligible to do another 12 months OPT after completing the graduate course.


Major requirements of OPT

  • The candidate must have a lawful F-1 visa (student visa) to undertake studies in a US university

  • The candidate’s employment must be related to his course of study

  • The candidate must apply for OPT before the completion of all work (research papers etc.) towards the course he/she is studying

  • The students who have undertaken 12 months or more full time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)  are not eligible to apply for OPT

  • If the candidate takes up part-time OPT in graduate school, it will be reduced from the total OPT working time. For example, the candidate works for six months as part time OPT, his/her OPT full time working permit will be reduced by three months and the remaining working permit for full time will be nine months.

Conditions of OPT

  • The working hours after receiving OPT is 40 hours per week after completing the course

  • The student must complete the OPT within 14 months after completing the course

  • If the student is leaving the country after completing the course and before receiving the EAD and getting a job, he/she is not permitted in the country

  • If the student leaves the country after completing the course, receiving the EAD and getting a job, he/she can re-enter the country by carrying a valid passport, F-1 visa and valid EAD card

OPT extension for students undertaking STEM related courses

The OPT requirements have been updated by Department of Homeland Security in 2008 which enabled the students studying STEM courses to get an extension of OPT by 17 months which made their OPT for a total of 29 months. This was to help the students who completed OPT and could not get H1B visa due to the time constrains. The students must undertake one of the following courses to get an extension:

  • Actuarial Science

  • Computer Science Applications

  • Engineering

  • Engineering Technologies

  • Life Sciences

  • Mathematics

  • Military Technologies

  • Physical Sciences

These are some of the courses that are covered in STEM course. Click here to get the complete list of STEM courses that can get OPT extension.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is an off-campus employment option for the F-1 visa holders which allow them to do “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” if practical training is an integral part of the course.


In order to get CPT, the student requires authorization by his school’s International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The student is paid during the CPT employment.


Eligibility criteria to get CPT employment

  • The student must be enrolled in a US university for at least one year with a valid F-1 visa

  • The CPT training must be compulsory for the student which leads to obtaining academic credit

  • The candidate must get a job offer in his/her field of study that leads to academic credit before applying for CPT authorisation

There are two types of CPT: full time and part time. The CPT authorisation will mention whether the student can work part time (20 hours per week) or full time (40 hours). After receiving the CPT authorisation, the candidate can work for the specific employer for the mentioned period of time during the application.

Unlike OPT, CPT does not have any limitation to the period of work. However, if a student works for more than 12 months under CPT, he/she is not eligible for OPT.


Employment with an international organisation

The international students with F-1 visa can work with recognised international organisations if they find an employment. The organisation must be one of the following:

  • Organisations in the Official State Department list

  • Red Cross

  • African and Asian Development Banks

  • World Health Organization

  • World Trade Organization

  • And other internationally well known organisations

Conditions to work for an international organisation

  • The student must have obtained a job or internship opportunity with an recognised international organisation

  • The student must obtain a job in the course of his/her study

  • The student must have a valid F-1 visa for at least one year

  • The student must have excellent academic record

Also Read:

Study in USA- FAQ

Free E-Book on US Visa Guidelines

Education USA: How studying in USA gives you an edge

Work Opportunities

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Questions related to United States of America

Showing 12 out of 12 Questions

What is the amount of Tax paid by the Neurosurgeons in the USA? What will be their income without adding the amount of Tax?

Anamika Tiwari 25th Jan, 2020

Dear Raja,

According to the latest updates, of the medical specialists considered the amount of tax paid by a neurosurgeon ranges from 4.4% to 11.5% as per the income.

However, the total income after paying the tax ranges from $436,000 to $733,000, while for the top neurosurgeon the income can make upwards of $873,000.

Thank you!


Compared to Neurosurgeons and Spine Surgeons, who earns more among them in the USA?

Misbah Anjum N 24th Jan, 2020


According to a study in 2018 of January, the average salary of neurosurgeon is approximately $600,000 which is about Rs.4,32,00,000 and a spine surgeon earns about $688,000 which is about Rs.4,95,36,000.

Hence, a spine surgeon earns more than a neurosurgeon!

However, spine surgery is considered under neurology department.

But on the whole, it depends upon your experience in the field!


After Completing PG of Medicine in India, How can we become a Doctor in the USA?

L RESHMASREE 20th Jan, 2020

After Completing PG of Medicine in India to become a Doctor at USA, the candidate has to practice in post graduation at USA too and then apply for work visa in USA once they get the residency confirmation to continue as a Doctor in USA.

Hope this information helps you.


What is the rich Salary per month in the United States?

Shudhanshu Gupta Student Expert 22nd Jan, 2020
According to a survey in 2007 it was found that the average monthly salary  of an individual in United state is $ 3,714 . and if you are searching for highest paying job in US  then the list of 25 highest paying job in US  is given below:
  • Physician.
  • Pharmacy  manager.
  • Pharmacist.
  • Enterprise architect.
  • Corporate counsel.
  • Software  development manager.
  • Physician assistant.
  • Software engineer manager.
  • Nurse practitioner.
  • Software architect.
  • Engineering  manager.
  • Applications development manager.
  • Plant  manager.
  • IT program manager.
  • Solutions architect.
  • Financial  planning and analysis manager.
  • Data architect.
  • Strategy manager.
  • System architect.
  • Scrum master.
  • Consulting manager.
  • Attorney.
  • Cloud  engineer.
  • Tax manager
  • Data  scientist.
The above list is on the basis of the annual salary where the highest paying median salary is of the physician which is $195,842 /year , remember this evidence is on the basis of the survey which was done in 2018 , salary amount may change after latest survey.
Best of luck.
1 View

i have completed bcom n passed 2 levels of Chartered Accountancy i eligible for masters?

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 1st Jan, 2020

Shachi, you are eligible for pursuing Master's based on your B.Com (//B.Com) qualification. You are a Chartered Accountant only after you successfully complete your CA Finals. Until then you will be a Candidate who is pursuing your CA. But based on your B.Com (//B.Com) qualification, you can study your PG.

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