As graduation season nears, the Alcorn Immigration Law team has been fielding inquiries from established companies, startups, and investors asking about options for promising foreign students to remain in the U.S.
Unfortunately, U.S. immigration policy often runs counter to retaining the best and the brightest college graduates in the U.S. Limited options exist for international students—and the employers who want to hire them—to remain here after they graduate.
Most countries want to attract and retain the best and the brightest international students—and their immigration policies reflect that aim. In contrast, the U.S. makes it difficult to not only get a student visa but also stay after graduating. Moreover, President Trump’s views on immigration, his travel ban, and his administration’s restrictive immigration policies have made the U.S. less attractive to foreign students.
One venture capitalist recently asked me about visa options for an international student he wants to hire. “I’m frustrated that someone of his talent and drive has to go through this,” the VC told me.
The options available—and the time it takes to make one a reality—for international students and employers can be dismaying. Retaining the best and the brightest international students in the U.S. requires persistence and patience.
Options for Students & Employers
Most foreign students obtain either an F-1 or M-1 visa to attend a college or university in the U.S. These are nonimmigrant visas. That means these young people must take the knowledge and training they received back to their home country.
Although students on an F-1 visa have an option to work and extend their stay, that opportunity is limited. F-1 visa holders can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows them to get 12 months of work experience in their field of study either while earning their degree or after graduation. International students can work an additional two years if they studied science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
Employers must often pursue several strategies for getting a visa for hiring or retaining an international student.
Although the number of H-1B applications has dropped during the Trump administration, applicants still only have a one in three chance of obtaining one. Candidates lucky enough to receive an H-1B are only allowed a maximum stay of six years. So, if employers want to retain those H-1B visa holders, those employees must quickly build up their credentials for other visas, such as an O-1A green card or an EB-1A green card. Moreover, foreign nationals from China and India face waiting 10 years or more to receive a green card.
Lawmakers should consider whether its good public policy to educate and train promising young people and then make it difficult for them to remain in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. fails to retain the world’s top talent after they have invested in and learned from our educational system.
We Can Help
The Alcorn Immigration Law team firmly believes immigration leads to innovation. If you are an international student or employer who wants assistance in determining the best path forward, contact us to set up a consultation.