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US extends stay for some foreign students

By Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston
Last updated on: July 28, 2004 16:02 IST
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Foreign students concerned about losing authorisation to stay in the United States have received an extension from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services that may allow them to remain in the country after October 1.

The extension applies to foreign students and recent graduates interested in working professionally in the United States who are applying for H-1B work visas. It will enable these students to remain in the country until their applications for work visas have been processed, according to a statement issued by the department on Tuesday.

The ruling affects students seeking to trade F and J visas for H-1B professional visas, the statement from US Citizenship and Immigration Services said.

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A visiting student has the option of working professionally for one year for 'optional practical training'. Once the practical training period ends, a student has between 30 and 60 days to close out affairs and apply for a H-1B visa that would allow him to continue working in the US.

If the visa is not granted before the end of the grace period, the student must return to his home country to apply again.

The H1-B visa allows international students to work in the United States for up to six years, as long as they are working in a specialised industry and hold a job that requires a degree. This year, American lawmakers have limited the number of H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2004.

Foreign students qualify for the extended grace period only if their prospective employer has filed an H-1 B petition on the student's behalf before July 30, 2004. The petition must include a requested employment start date of October 1, 2004.

"The extension of the grace period allows affected foreign students to remain in the US and avoid the inconvenience of returning home only to travel back to the US in the near future," said Eduardo Aguirre, director, US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston
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