In recent years, more than a million international students have flocked to study in American colleges and universities. Although their numbers seem to have dropped in 2017 after several moves by President Trump, the figures are still significant.
Many of these students enjoy their time in the United States and want to stay after graduation. If you are one of them, here is a look at your options.
Can you automatically stay?
Yes and no, assuming you are on an F-1 student visa. The "yes" is that you have 60 days after your program ends to stay in the country. The "no" is that once that 60 days is up, you must have an extension or have secured another way to stay.
How can I stay longer?
If you can get a job, you help your odds considerably. In fact, if you are employed, you may be able to stay in the United States for at least another year, and many people end up staying the rest of their lives. The complicated part can be finding the job itself. Competition for positions is intense, so many international students start searching for work early in their last semester of college and do extensive networking before that.
In many cases, you can also stay in the United States (or return soon) if you enroll in another educational program.
Perhaps your situation is slightly different, though. Maybe you met a U.S. citizen in college and fell in love. If marriage occurs, you should be able to stay in the United States. Of course, immigration laws have many nuances, so never assume that something is set in stone. For example, even with a marriage, you still need to have your spouse sponsor an application for residency, and there can be some bumps in the road.
It could also be that you have relatives who are U.S. citizens or residents. Through them, you might be able to get the legal status to stay in the country.