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What International Students Need to Know When Picking a Major

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What do international students need to know when they're picking a major? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. You know, one of my favorite things to do is to go speak to international students at their schools about their longterm chances of staying in the United States.

So we also have a lot of consults like this where someone is finishing up their F-1 student visa, they are either getting ready to go on optional practical training OPT or they've already started it and they want to know about staying in the United States. A lot of times these people are asking the question way, way, way too late.

What do you mean by that, Jim? Well, what I mean is the fact that when you're picking your major, you're really setting yourself up for success or failure in getting an H1B because that's how you're going to be able to stay. At the end of your F-1 studies you're going to get either one or three years of OPT, which means you're going to be able to work in your field of study.

If you're in a STEM field, you get three years. If you're not in a STEM field, you get one year and the reason that's important is because that's going to impact how many times you can apply for the H1B lottery from within the United States.

So we've had students who get that OPT and do such a good job that the employer is willing to sponsor them for an H1B and they then go through the lottery. But in this video, what I want to talk about are situations where they are thinking about a major where they're a freshman or a sophomore or they're in grad school and they're going through the process of figuring out what major can get me in the best position possible to stay in the United States if that's their goal. Not every international students has that as a goal, but in a lot of situations they do.

The sad thing is, is when I do these consults or when I talk to these students and they've spent all this time and money and effort towards a degree that's not going to lend itself very well to an H1B. What I mean by that, well not every occupation is eligible for an H1B. Not every degree is eligible for an H1B.

So let me tell you about a call that I had the other day that made me even think about this.

So a young lady was getting ready to start her OPT and she has a marketing degree. Well, marketing degrees are very, very difficult to get an H1B visa for. Now we have done it but when I had that consult back then, I told that client, "I don't think this is going to work," but ultimately she hired us and it did work.

Her employer hired us and it did work. But for the most part, marketing degrees are tough because there's so many people working in marketing without a specific degree in a specific field and given the harsh scrutiny that the current administration is playing with H1B applications, it's going to be really tough to get a marketing degree or just a general business degree, an H1B.

So you really need to be strategic. People who pick software engineers or accounting or any kind of science jobs, chemistry, chemists, those kinds of things, they're going to have a much easier time of getting an H1B than people with marketing degrees or business general degrees or things like that.

So sadly the universities don't do a good job of explaining this to international students. It's funny, these universities get a lot of money from international students, but they don't spend a lot of time or effort, in my experience, as a whole in getting these students ready or in the best position for an H1B. But some schools do and that's great.

One of the reasons we make videos like this one and one of the reasons we go to talk to international students is so that we can help them point in a better direction, point to a better place, point to a place that might lend itself to an H1B. So if you're an international student and you're wondering how am I going to stay in the United States, we hope this video helps. We hope you pick the right major and we hope you're getting the best position possible to get yourself an H1B if that's something that you desire.

That's what we're all about here. We're all about trying to help you and empower you to get the immigration benefits that you want. So that's why I made this video and I hope you liked it. If you have questions about the H1B or about OPT or anything else related to an F-1 student visa, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected] Be sure to join us in our Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home and we'd love to see you in there. If you liked this video, please share it out on social and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever I make videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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