Visa Law Doesn’t Have to Work Against You

As I know very well, international students studying in American universities and international workers trying to find jobs, and even those who successfully have landed a job all face immense pressure that American natives usually can’t understand. To use a metaphor, international workers and students are like deep-sea divers connected to a tank of oxygen by a tenuous cord. Once that cord breaks, that is, once the Visa runs out, the student has a serious problem.

Thus fear rules the day. Horror stories of being unable to secure a job and being deported with American college debt further increase anxiety and distract students and workers from the activities that will add to their human capital. Lack of understanding of the law greatly increases this anxiety because it seems like if you don’t do it completely right the law will harshly punish you.

The truth is not quite as scary, however. Despite presumptions to the contrary, the law does not exist to punish people. It is negotiable, and while the existence of these laws make life for international students and workers a little more difficult, American companies and the government acknowledge the need for international talent and are willing to work with them.The key is to actively comply – to paraphrase an acclaimed immigration attorney, if you stay on the right track from the beginning you can do whatever you want.

An example of this is OPT. While getting the job to get the OPT extension to the F-1 is a great source of anxiety for college graduates, it is actually fairly simple to get OPT. The employer does not have to have any special legal status to accept OPT – they only need to understand and accept that the employee will be able to remain with the company for only 12 months. Many unconventional paths are available. OPT status can be activated by self-employment (as long as the self-created business has proof of existence). The truth of OPT is that with a bit of early warning, it is quite possible for any college graduate to achieve it.

Unfortunately you probably can’t do it on your own. Compliance with the law is easy as long as you not only understand what the law says, but also how it is applied. This is why you need a trusted source of information. What really is a problem for international students and workers is not so much the law but lack of understanding of the American workplace and lack of connection to the resources they need. The unfortunate thing is that this is part of the condition of being in a foreign country – you don’t have the navigation skills that American natives take for granted. This results in the highly undesirable outcome of highly talented international students involuntarily leaving the country because of avoidable problems.

International students who go to the top-level companies do not have to worry about these things because everything gets taken care of for them. They know the good lawyers and understand how to help the unique challenges of international students.

At CareerFit we are democratizing this process so that any international student, even those who don’t choose to go to the top-level companies or aren’t able to, can make their stay in America as valuable as possible. We will help you accomplish what you want to accomplish in the United States by providing you access to all the best resources, and the cultural perspective and guidance that will really boost your career and help you navigate the labor market. Most of all, you will have a trusted adviser who is there for you to assist you with whatever challenges you face.


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