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How to Change Your Student Visa to a Work Visa

If you’re in the United States on a student visa, then you may have fallen in love with the way of life here.  Not only did you get the chance to study, but you probably made lifelong friendships and even discovered that there are a lot of opportunities to work here as well. 

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    If you’re in the United States on a student visa, then you may have fallen in love with the way of life here.  Not only did you get the chance to study, but you probably made lifelong friendships and even discovered that there are a lot of opportunities to work here as well.  For that reason, many students decide that they want to stay in the United States to work.  For this to happen, though, you have to change your visa status so that you can legally work while you’re here.  As many of you know, anything related to visa processes can be intimidating, which is why you should be more familiar with the process in order to improve your chances of receiving a work visa.

    How to Change Student Visa to Work Visa in USA

    Now that you’re interested in extending your time here, you’re probably excited and planning every detail.  Before rushing through the process, however, you should make sure that you’re doing the process correctly.  Many students have the misbelief that after they graduate, they can apply for a work visa, and then find a great job.  Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case, as your employer’s sponsorship is the key to obtaining a work visa.    

    If you’re like most international students, then you probably have a F1 visa, which means you have an additional 60 days to stay in the United States after graduating.  Although you can use these 60 days to look for a job, it’s recommended that you start looking beforehand.  This is because it’s not always easy to find a job, especially one that is willing to sponsor you for your visa.

    Although there are many different types of work visas, the most common is the H1-B specialty occupation visa.  This visa allows employers to hire graduate level workers for specialized fields such as finance, accounting, engineering, medicine, and more.

    In order to receive an employment visa, you need to know how to apply for a work visa in the U.S.  Here are the steps that you should follow:

      • 1. Find a Sponsor
        As mentioned, you have to be sponsored by a U.S. employer in order to apply for a visa.  That’s why it’s important to tell your potential employer at the beginning of the job application process that you require their sponsorship.  If they aren’t willing to help, then you probably shouldn’t waste your time continuing the hiring process with them.
      • 2. Submit a Labor Condition Application
        Once you find a suitable employer, they will need to submit the Labor Condition Application and get it approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.  This form will identify the amount of time they will hire you, and it will also guarantee that the employer will provide you with good working conditions and fair wage for where you’ll be living.  After this application is approved, you and your employer can move to the next step.
      • 3. File Form I-129
        Form I-129 is the petition for nonimmigrant workers and is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  If it’s approved, it grants permission to the employer to hire a foreign worker.  When your employer submits this form, they will also need to file: the applicant’s resume, proof of the employee’s education, an experience evaluation, the employment agreement, relevant training certificates, a letter of support, and the required filing documents.  This process usually takes 3 to 4 months, but can be processed faster for a fee.
      • 4. Complete the Application
        Once the I-129 is approved, it’s time to take the last steps to obtaining your visa.  You will need to process your visa at your home country’s embassy or consulate, and also fill out form DS-160, pay the visa fees, submit any required documents, and schedule and  pass your interview.

      Avoid Making These Mistakes When Applying for Your Visa


      person signing visa application


    • Some of the common mistakes that applicants make when applying for their visa are:

        • Rushing the process – It takes time to get your visa approved.  If you wait until the last minute and try to rush through the process, you may skip some steps or not give yourself enough time before the expected start date.
        • Not reading the instructions – You’d be surprised by how many people submit their applications without the proper documentation.  All this does is delay the process, or it could even cause your application to get denied.
        • Not hiring a lawyer – Lawyers who are experienced in this field know exactly what documents you need in order to be successful.  When you try to do this process alone, it can be stressful and you may not do it properly.

      If you’re wondering how to get a work visa in the USA, consider hiring a immigration lawyer.  An experienced lawyer will help you gather all the required documents, and inform you on how long the process should take, how much it costs to submit each application, and answer any of your questions or concerns.

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