Most Asked Questions about Work Authorization in the US

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shutterstock_269645096Well, I am getting a lot of questions about work authorization in the US and this week, I would like to clarify these questions. For example;

  • I have a university degree from X country. How do I apply for a work visa in the US?

You cannot apply for a work visa which is called H-1B yourself. Your employer should apply for you. The reason for this is that H-1B visa is tied to your sponsoring employer as well as your job roles and responsibilities. For this reason, you need to find a job first in order for your employer apply H-1B visa for you. Also, H-1B jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree or higher, so you should have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Still, for more comprehensive information about H-1B visas, visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website (

  • My friend in the US applied for a 1-year work permit called OPT. How can I apply for it from outside of the US?

OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. It is a type of work authorization for employment related to your field of study. OPT is a benefit for holders of valid student (F-1) visas and it is valid for twelve months. To be eligible, you must have completed one full academic year of study in the United States. Most F-1 students use this type of work authorization after they graduate. With an OPT authorization, you can work for any employer, but you can only work in jobs related to your major. You cannot work in jobs that don’t relate to your major or to the degree that you have studied. You can also work part-time or without getting paid. When you are authorized for OPT, you receive an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card so you can start working for employers.

  • What is a seventeen-month OPT extension? Can everyone get this extension?

The seventeen-month OPT extension is an additional work authorization to your twelve-month OPT. However, this extension is not available to everyone. It is only available to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates. Also, in order to get this extension, applicants must be already working in OPT status in paid employment. Volunteer positions are not allowed and the applicant must be employed by an employer registered with the “E-Verify” federal employment-verification system.