The University has a diverse population of students from all over the globe. International students make up more than a quarter of the population at the University Campus.
On Feb. 24 a “Life After Leo” event was held by Career Services. This event was put on by Paige Ramsey-Hamacher, director for multicultural and international services. The event was conducted by immigration lawyers from a local law firm.
Upon arrival, a multiple choice handout was given to each student. This handout was given to test knowledge of the what was about to be discussed. The room was adequately filled with soon-to-be graduates. An hour long presentation was done by one of the lawyers. During the course of this presentation the terms “OPT,” “CPT” and “H1B” were being discussed and explained.
“OPT,” or Optional Practical Training, is a type of program that can be applied before or after the student graduates. This program allows the student to remain in the United States and work; the student must work in area that is related to his or her field of study. Students are advised to apply for “OPT” up to ninety days before they graduate, and it takes approximately ninety days for the paperwork to be approved. “CPT,” or Curricular Practical Training, is a program available to International students while they are in school; this program allows them to do internships while they are still in school.
After graduation, international students have up to thirty days that they are allowed to remain in the country. Throughout the presentation, students asked questions about their specific situations and asked about the different options available to them after graduation. When asked whether or not students remained in America after graduation Hamacher said that it is about a fifty-fifty chance, some students remain and some students leave. In order for students to apply for “OPT” they first need a job offer.
“Saint Leo has a great website that is only available to University students as well as their Professors who often times have really good contacts that can help them,” said Hamacher.
“H1B” visas are also another option for students, in order to apply for this visa a student needs to have Bachelor’s Degree and a job offer to qualify. This visa can last up to six years; however, only 1-in-4 applicants receive this visa.
There are a number of opportunities that are available for international students after graduation, it is up to them to conduct further research and keep up to date with their options if they do plan on remaining in the United States.