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Training extension for STEM students might change students' goals

College is an incredibly stressful time for most students. Between class assignments, studying, exams and extra-curricular activities, there is little time for much else. International students must deal with these same challenges in addition to staying in compliance with their visa requirements.

This pressure only gets worse after graduation. International students must either secure another visa or return to their home countries, which can be very undesirable for someone hoping to work and build a life here. However, this pressure has eased off a bit for one group of students: those pursuing an advanced degree in STEM fields.

Students who are studying science, technology, engineering and/or math are already granted an extension after graduation for on-the-job training.

But, as noted in this article in The Harvard Crimson, these same students have even more time to pursue a career and secure the necessary training thanks to a seven-month extension recently granted by the federal government. Instead of 29 months, STEM students will now have 36 months to pursue a much-coveted work visa.

As it stands, there is a limited number of H1-B visas available, which is the visa for which workers in STEM fields qualify. This means that even if a STEM student has a degree and qualifies for an H1-B visa, there is no guarantee he or she will receive one.

The additional months will give students more time to apply and more chances to get the visa they need to stay in the U.S.

This change could certainly affect a person's decisions regarding what they will study in the U.S. and which industry the will be looking for work in. The extension could be very attractive to people who are on the fence about what to study.

Unfortunately, for those who choose to study something outside of the STEM fields, the same challenges persist and they will need to examine their options for other types of visas for which they may be eligible.

Considering how stressful this process can be and the anxiety students already face as they pursue an advanced degree and gainful employment, it can be helpful for students pursuing H1-B visas, or any other visa, to consult an attorney familiar with immigration laws and visa procedures to avoid any mistakes or costly oversights.

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