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US F-1 Student Visa Holders Can Now Work for Startups

Published on : December 26, 2023

An important update for international students looking to work for startups in the United States.

On December 20, 2023, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a policy guidance for international students. A landmark policy update, this comes as a major change impacting international students who are studying abroad in the US on an F-1 Student Visa.

For the first time ever, such students will be able to directly submit an application for a visa under the Employment-based category. The change makes foreign students eligible for immigrant visas for the US.

The USCIS policy guidance includes -

  • F & M student nonimmigrant classification,
  • Role of USCIS in deciding applications for employment authorization,
  • Change of student status in the US,
  • Extension of stay of the student in the US, and
  • The reinstatement of the status for these students and their dependents in the US.

According to the USCIS News Release, the guidance will “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”.

As per the new guidance, international students in the US on an F or M visa must have a foreign accommodation that they intend to continue. However, such students must be the beneficiary of - (1) an immigrant visa petition, or (2) a permanent labour certification application. These must still be able to prove their intention to leave the US following their temporary stay.

Additionally, the USCIS guidance specifies how F students - who are looking for OPT (optional practical training) based on their study in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field - might take up employment with startup companies in the US. Their US employer will have to fulfill certain specific conditions to employ F Student visa holders in their startups.

The announcement comes as a landmark decision allowing F-1 Student visa holders to work for startup companies in the United States. It is a welcome decision that will greatly benefit Indians studying abroad in the US.

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Topics: USA

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