For a lot of foreign nationals, getting a green card might be the ideal situation, but there are plenty of other options that allow them to pursue their career goals without one. One option is employment-based visas that allow foreign nationals to work in the U.S. As a business immigration law firm, we often help foreign nationals gain employment under employment-based visas, moving from F-1 student status with optional practical training (OPT) to H-1B status. The problem is that even people in the U.S. on employment-based visas still struggle with difficult questions about their visa and green card options. Today, we’re going to discuss some of those issues and how to resolve them.
For F-1 students working during their OPT period with an employment-based authorization card and desire to continue working in the U.S., you have several options. It’s fine to change employers during the OPT period if the new employment is related to your academic field of study. You may even work for yourself if you have established a business in your field of study. Whether you change employers or work for yourself, just make sure that you don’t lose touch with your designated university official, because they oversee your visa and maintain direct contact with the government agency responsible for monitoring foreign students studying or working in the U.S. Although working during the OPT period is great for students on F-1 visas, some other concerns can arise from the employment.
Students who started working for their current employer right out of school with optional practical training, and subsequently in H-1B status, might realize the work isn’t for them, or may receive a better offer from another company that is willing to sponsor them for their green card. If you’re in that situation, you might feel hesitant to change employers, because you’re under the impression that changing companies can impact your chances in getting permanent residency in the U.S. Fact is, work experience gained with your current employer may be used to help support a green card application filed by your prospective employer. What matters in this situation is that the employer can demonstrate that they’ve tried their best to search for a U.S. worker for the permanent position they want you to fill and can demonstrate based on specific recruitment efforts that there are no qualified U.S. workers who meets the minimum educational and experience requirements. In this situation, the work experience works in your advantage, because it supports the fact that the company needs to hire someone with experience and cannot just hire any U.S. worker and train him or her. For our foreign nationals working on an H-1B visa looking to switch employers, stay tuned next week to know more about your options!
Edited by Winnie Kan, Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Please note that this article is not legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, your best option is always to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your situation, because immigration cases are all individual and vary case-by-case. If you have any additional questions, please contact attorney Barbara Wong, Esq. at [email protected] or (408) 329-9184 ext. 120.
Related Immigration Topics:
H-1B: Understanding Your Options
U.S. Permanent Residency: Take Charge of Your Career Path
U.S. Permanent Residency: Family-Based and Employment-Based