It’s that time of year when college graduates are looking forward to graduation, obtaining their first job and starting their careers. For international students, this can be a very intense and anxiety-filled endeavor as they not only seek employment in their field of study, but also attempt to find an employer willing to sponsor them for a work visa.

Harris Beach’s New York immigration attorneys help international students and potential employers with options following graduation. On April 12, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Senior Counsel Andrea Godfread-Brown will discuss “Immigration 101: Life After Practical Training” at the Bird Library on the Syracuse University’s Campus. International students and employers are invited to attend.

Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students

One option Godfread-Brown will discuss is the Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) employment authorization period, which is available to F-1 international students in the United States. In the STEM fields, F-1 students qualify for an additional two years of OPT.

The pressing issue for most F-1 students is, what happens after that OPT and associated work document expires? What are the employment visas available to them at that point and how/when do they discuss these options with an employer or potential new employer? This is a critical topic for both the employer and employee in those situations where both want to continue employment. This is also a discussion that must be had as early as possible in the employment relationship so there is enough time to pursue the proper strategy for obtaining non-immigrant, work authorized status for that employee.

For the past 20 to 30 years, the traditional path for these F-1 students would be to transition from F-1 to an H-1B visa (an employer-sponsored “temporary professional worker” visa status). And while that is still an available option, it became less so in the last 5 years due to the limited number of H-1B visas available each year and the increased number of submissions into the USCIS lottery system. Read more about the H-1B lottery process in an earlier blog post.

Getting selected in the H-1B lottery has become increasingly challenging, forcing newly graduated F-1 students to be flexible and creative in planning their lives and careers in the U.S. This also coincides quite often with a time in their life where they have very little resources and support for getting good legal advice on how to navigate the employment-based immigration system. Employers are in a similar state of uncertainty due to the after-effects of the pandemic and the fluctuating job market, particularly in the tech industries.

New York immigration attorneys and staff at Harris Beach are committed to getting the correct information to both the employer and the employee so they understand the process and alternatives to the H-1B visa for employment of a highly skilled worker. To learn more, contact Andrea at (315) 214-2058 and

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.