If you’re studying in the United States, get to know your visa limits

As a student who wants to study in the United States, one question you may have is what happens if you overstay on your student visa. If you overstay, you could violate the law and end up in trouble with the U.S. government.

It is tricky for students to know exactly how long they can stay in the country, especially once they complete a degree. During the Trump Administration, the rules have become more stringent, too. It is extremely important, as a result, that you know the rules of your student visa, the F1 visa.

Here are some of the questions you may have and the answers you could be looking for.

What happens if you graduate with an F1 visa?

There will come a day when you graduate from your university. At that time, you will generally have a grace period of 60 days to stay in the United States legally. After that, you will need to leave the country or have found a job allowing you to stay. If you apply for post-graduation optional practical training, called OPT, then you may have an extension period of up to two years if you’re working in STEM or one year in other fields.

Keep in mind that students who do apply for OPT have up to 90 days before they end their studies and 60 days after graduation to apply. If you’re not able to get a job with OPT in that time frame, then you will be expected to leave the country unless there are other visa options provided to you.

If you do get a job offer from a specialty occupation, then you may apply for the H-1B visa. That visa still requires you to leave the country and reenter.

What happens if you accidentally overstay on your visa?

If you overstay by over 180 days but less time than a year, then you won’t be able to re-enter the United States for three years. If you overstay by a year or longer, then you’ll be barred from re-entry for up to 10 years.

Your attorney can help you find ways to stay in the United States if your studies are ending soon. Making a plan early can help you have the opportunity to stay or return to the United States in the future.