Continuing on from yesterday’s overview of supply and demand of H-1B visas, today’s article discusses the first of four alternative methods of employment sponsorship for foreign workers.

Option 1: Work Authorization for Foreign National Graduates of U.S. Universities and Colleges (F-1 OPT)

H-1B petitions are for specialty occupations. In most instances this means that the position requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Many of the foreign workers who were not selected for the H-1B lottery may be F-1 students. If that is the case, typically, an F-1 foreign national who attended a U.S. college or university on F-1 status will be entitled to 12 months of work authorization following graduation using OPT (“Optional Practical Training”) work authorization.

Foreign students who are interested in applying for OPT work authorization must start the process with the Designated School Official (DSO) at their respective university or college and should plan to file the necessary paperwork up to 90 days before their program end date, or no later than 60 days after the program end date.