• Giselle Ayala

Students! You have options after finishing your Optional Practical Training.


Did international students ever think that their college program or optional training” would be impacted by a global pandemic? Probably not. Well, the level of uncertainty and dissatisfaction that the COVID19 crisis has caused has no precedent. Today, more than 500,000 international students face uncertainty as to what are their possibilities of finishing college, completing their training and complying with the conditions of their visas. Some students want to go home, others want to stay.



Especially students whose OPT or Optional Practical Training finishes in Summer are concerned. However, if they wish to remain in the U.S., I want to highlight three potential options after the OPT expires:

  1. The H1B Visa. The H1B visa is used by professionals with a college degree to work in the U.S. To apply for this kind of visa an employer must support the application and offer to the applicant a job for which a college degree is necessary. The H1B visa allows the applicant to stay in the U.S. for up to three years. This period can be extender for another term or three years. However, it is worth mentioning that if the applicant loses his job he must promptly acquire another and update his status. Finally, an H1B visa holder may eventually apply for a permanent residence.

  2. The J1 Visa. The J visa is granted to students, trainees, teachers, professors, international visitors, and short term scholars to work in the U.S. for a temporary period. The beneficiary of the J visa allows the applicant to work on-campus or off-campus for up to 20 hours per week, to participate in a training program for up to 18 months, or lecture, consult, or participates in conferences and similar events for up to six months.

  3. The E-2 Visa. For those entrepreneur college graduates who want to start a business, the E2 visa may be the answer. The E2 visa allows foreigners to come to the U.S. to create and run their own business. An E2 visa must demonstrate special skills, invest an amount sufficient to start the operation of its business, and participate in the business as manager or executive. Unlike other types of visas, E2 is not subject to a cap and can be renovated indefinitely.


College students have options to stay in the U.S. after completing their Optional Practical Training. It is true that these options involve additional analysis, an organized strategy and planning to avoid missing specific timelines and deadlines. However, the first step is to consider the possibilities.


To explore any of these options after OPT expires, contact the Law Office of Giselle Ayala Mateus. We would love to work with you to find the best strategy!

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Giselle Ayala Mateus

U.S. - COLOMBIA

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