International students can extend stay for up to 3 years after graduation
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a governing its foreign student visa program known as optional practical training, or OPT.
Under the previous rules, international students studying in the United States had the option to stay 12 months after graduation for on-the-job training with the chance to request an additional 17 months.
That rule was thrown into contention when a federal judge i on procedural grounds, raising concern for thousands of students using foreign visas.
Under the new rules, students studying any STEM field — Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics — can apply for an additional 24 months for a total of three years in hands-on employment using their degrees.
The additional time and chance to put their education into practice has been met with overwhelmingly positive reactions from international students at MSU, mainly because it can allow international students to gain real world experience in the same place they were educated.
For Yang Gao, a packaging alumnus from China, the OPT extension eases the stress in searching for potential employment.
“Since I have this three year thing I can stay a little bit longer,” Gao said. “And if I don’t have it, probably it would be more difficult to find a job over here.”
His roommate Wen Li, an electrical engineering senior from China, benefits similarly from the new rule.
Li had previously interned with Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc., or IMI, and was involved in manufacturing processes from circuit design to actually soldering the material himself.
“I’m still looking for a job,” Li said. “I may probably start with my career as an intern after graduation, due to the OPT. Then I will look for full time, probably with the same company.”
Both Gao and Li intend to work for a few years in the United States before heading back to China when their visas run up. The two of them both expressed how much easier it is for them to pursue this career path than before.
“There’s more opportunities for higher educated students over here and that’s why I would like to start my education over here and have some working experience over here,” Gao said. “I do have connections in China but we like to see more and learn more in other countries, especially the United States.”