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Old 05-31-2010, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Australia
25 posts, read 85,636 times
Reputation: 17

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A big "g'day" from Down Under everybody! I have a few questions with regards to visas and permenant residency. I have tried getting some info from the United States consulate in Australia, but all I got was an automated phone message and I do not live in a capital city that has an actual consulate I can go into. I will be commencing a three year university course next year. For my final year, I want to take advantage of my uni's international exchange program. This would mean I will be doing my final year in the States (USLA) and will be graduating there (although I will have to return to Australia if I want to be part of the official graduation cermony). I am then hopeful that I can get work in LA. Do I have to leave the country when I want to obtain a work visa and no longer need my student visa? And what is the process of transfering from a working visa to a green card? Or is it just easier to apply for the green card as soon as I am not a student anymore? Also, what happens if I am offered a job straight out of university? Can my employer sponsor me and that would in turn make it easier to get a work visa/green card?
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:07 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 10,322,904 times
Reputation: 3003
You need a J-1 visa with an OPT training option if you want to work on your "student" visa. You cannot work on a J-1 alone or while you are in school. After you finish school you will have a 1-year Operational Professional Training period where you can take on full-time employment, get paid, etc.

During that year, you need to start your H1-b visa application QUICKLY. Applications open in April and usually fill up fast. They are first-come basis. There are 65,000 slots and if the economy is recovering, you can expect them all to go in the first week. Maybe even on the first day, so get your application in prior to the deadline to be in the pool if they do a 1st day lottery system.

The H1-b visa is good for 2 years, after which you must apply/renew (not clear on the details) for another H1-b and/or have your employer sponsor you for an employment-based Green Card (LPR). This is a long process, but eventually you'll get a 10-year LPR which will allow you to live and work in the USA permanently and apply for citizenship after 5 years.

Other options:
Yes, a company can apply for a H1-b for you while you are in school. The H1-b visas take effect in October. You'll probably have to leave the country briefly if your J-1 or OPT expires before the H1-b activates.

Caveats:
You need to have a technical degree. Engineering, computer science, physics, etc. are best. Design work is good too. It must be a BS or higher. There are no caps on H-visas for MS or PhD postgraduates.

You must work for the company who applies for your H-visa. If you change companies you must have the new company apply for your H-visa FIRST. If you lose your job, you must leave the country immediately. You are out-of-status from the second you are fired if you are on a H-visa. You have a grace period of 6 months before you'll be hit with a 3-year bar if you don't leave quickly.

Good luck.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:39 AM
 
Location: Australia
25 posts, read 85,636 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks sponger, all this info is a great help. The only question I would have with regards to caveats is what is considered a technical degree in the States, as I think that differs from Australia? I would be studying something along the lines of PR, Marketing and Communucation, as well as possibly web based design and internet publishing. I would be studying for what is known in Australia as a Bachelor Degree, perhaps even doing a double degree. Would that qualify me for a company sponsored H-visa?Also, if I am to understand you correctly (and I were theorise the path I am most likely to take), would I do the following;1. Come to the States on a J-1 visa with OPT option.2. After a year, graduate and then start work. 3. Apply for a H1-b visa as soon as I graduate.4. Find work with an employer that is likely to sponsor me for a green card.5. Work with said employer for two years and then apply for a green card.6. If I am initially working for a employer who is not willing to sponsor me, reapply for another H1-b visa and then take the next two years to find an employer who will sponsor me.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:40 AM
 
16,931 posts, read 2,174,066 times
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Remember - you cannot apply for H1B. Only a US employer can. Read up on it on uscis.gov.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Australia
25 posts, read 85,636 times
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Threestep, what is my option for a working visa if I do not have an employer to sponsor me straight out of college?
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 10,322,904 times
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Threestep is correct. The OPT gives you 1 year of time to find an employer willing to sponsor you. You do not HAVE to work during this year, but you will want to quickly find and impress a company so they will sponsor your H1-b visa.

What field is your degree in?

If you can't find an employer to sponsor you, you will have to leave at the end of your OPT period. There are no other ways to immigrate unless you have a US citizen relative or half a million dollars.

You can also be hired by a transnational company and transfer to the US on a L visa. Or you can be hired by a US company while you are living overseas and be brought over on a H-visa.
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: New York, NY
917 posts, read 2,728,841 times
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I'm not sure you will be able to get a work visa that easily if you are simply a "study abroad" student in the US. Just because you spend your final year at a US college doesn't mean you graduate from there- unless you are an actual transfer student, the rules are probably very different. I believe you have to be enrolled as a true student, not a study abroad student, to get a J-1 visa. I knew several exchange students at my uni and they were not allowed to work in the US because of the restrictions on visas for study abroad students.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Australia
25 posts, read 85,636 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks for all the information guys. I will probably have to travel down to Sydney so that I can arrange an inteview with the United States consulate there, just to clear up any confusion I have and find out my options for visa and such.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:37 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 10,322,904 times
Reputation: 3003
StinaTado is probably correct. You are going to have to actually enroll in a US university to get a J-1 and OPT. That doesn't mean you can't interview with employers during your study abroad time, but it will be tough to convince them to hire you and go through all the trouble of a H-visa unless you're really something special.
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:12 PM
 
Location: Australia
25 posts, read 85,636 times
Reputation: 17
Would it be possible to do an unpaid internship while I am studying?
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