Foreign nationals who come to South Carolina and earn a college degree may be able to work in the United States while they are studying and after they graduate. Once their initial employment visa expires, graduates may apply for another temporary visa and eventually earn the qualifications they need to secure a green card.
While in F-1 student status, a foreign student in the U.S. can take advantage of Optional Practical Training employment authorization, or OPT. This work authorization allows students to work while they are in school or out of school. Every foreign student is allowed to work for one year for every degree earned, and students who earn a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics can work for an additional 17 months.
After a foreign student has earned a degree in the U.S. and has found an employer, the graduate may ask their employer to sponsor them for H-1B temporary employment status. This visa is reserved for employees who are working in a position that requires a bachelor's degree. Over time, graduates with H-1B visas often gain the qualifications they need to apply for an employment-based immigrant visa.
Navigating employment immigration laws can be confusing for a new college student in the U.S., but an immigration attorney may be able to help. An attorney might advise a foreign college student about how to obtain employment authorization and how long they can legally remain in the country. If a student wishes to stay in the country and eventually become a permanent resident, an attorney may be able to advise them about the requirements for immigrant visas.