Working Beyond OPT and Academic Training

If you wish to continue working inside of the U.S. after your Optional Practical Training or your Academic Training, then you will need to pursue another type of work visa. This section will briefly review other types of work visas, but please note that ISSS cannot advise on these types of visas.

J-1 Scholar

The J-1 Scholar visa is commonly used by universities for temporary, non-tenure track positions (ex. postdoc positions) or medical facilitiesIn order to qualify for a J-1 scholar visa, a person must demonstrate sufficient English proficiency for program activities and day-to-day life and must maintain adequate health insurance

J-1 Scholar Visa Categories

Professor

A scholar whose primary purpose is teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting. A professor also may conduct research.

Research Scholar

A scholar whose primary purpose is conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. A research scholar also may teach or lecture.

Short-Term Scholar

A scholar who enters the US for a short-term visit for the purpose or lecturing, observing, consulting, training, or demonstrating special skills.

There are certain limitations for J-1 scholars. A professor or researcher scholar who has previously completed a J-1 program may not begin a new J-1 program for at least two years. Previous time spent in J-1 status could impact immediate eligibility to participate in the J-1 scholar program as a professor researcher

Please note that with the J-1 category, a person may be subject to the two year residency requirement. This rule, also called 212(e), says that certain exchange visitors may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement as indicated on the J-1 visa or DS-2019 form.

H1B Work Visa

An H1B is an employment visa for “specialty occasion” and requires at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specific field. In order to obtain an H1B visa, an employer must sponsor and must pay prevailing wage. A person cannot pay for the cost of their own H1B visa. The filing fee for an H1B ranges from $750 to $1,500 for employer. If employer pursues premium processing, additional fees apply. Please note that premium processing was paused temporarily starting 4/3/2017.

The H1B is competitive and limited. There are a limited number (65,000) of H-1B available (20,000 more for those with higher degree like master’s or Ph.D). This cap is met very quickly and, at times, a lottery may be used to select petitions. Please note that universities and organizations designated as non-profit are not subject to cap.

If you are selected and approved for an H1B visa, it is valid for three years and renewable for additional three years. Renewals of the H1B visa are not subject to the cap.

It is very challenging to change type of work or employer. Please plan ahead.

Cap Gap for H1B

Current regulations allow F-1 students on Optional Practical Training with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status and eligible to work while waiting for the H-1B to take effect. This is referred to as filling the "Cap- Gap," meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the "gap" between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.

For proof of status during the cap gap, please contact ISSS and provide proof of your approved H1B. We can issue a new I-20 showing the continuation of status between the end of your OPT and the start of your H1B.