Opportunities for F-1 Visa Holders to Work with Startups

New Opportunity for US F-1 Student Visa Holders: Employment Options Expanded to Include Startups

In a groundbreaking move on December 20, 2023, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a significant policy update that will reshape the landscape for international students studying in the United States on F-1 Student Visas.

This transformative change allows these students to directly apply for a visa under the Employment-based category, making them eligible for immigrant visas in the US—a first-time opportunity for F-1 visa holders. The USCIS policy guidance covers various aspects, including the F & M student nonimmigrant classification, USCIS’s role in processing employment authorization applications, change of student status, extension of stay, and reinstatement of status for students and their dependents in the US.

According to the USCIS News Release, this guidance aims to “provide welcome clarity to international students and U.S. educational institutions on a wealth of topics, including eligibility requirements, school transfers, practical training, and on- and off-campus employment.”

Under the new guidance, F and M visa holders must maintain a foreign residence they intend to continue, but they can also be beneficiaries of an immigrant visa petition or a permanent labor certification application. Despite these changes, they still need to demonstrate their intention to leave the US after their temporary stay.

Furthermore, the USCIS guidance outlines specific conditions under which F students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) based on STEM degrees can be employed by startup companies in the US. Employers must adhere to certain criteria to hire F Student visa holders in their startups.

This landmark decision opens up exciting opportunities for F-1 Student visa holders to work with startup companies in the US, offering a significant advantage to Indian students pursuing education in the country.

Source: Kansaz