Following graduation from a US college, there are two legal options: staying back in the US or leaving the country.
Should you wish to live in the US long term, the most viable pathway is to work towards a Green Card.
The Green Card offers you legal permanent residence in the US which comes with the right to legally reside, work and travel freely.
Here is a stepwise approach to getting a green card after completing your studies in the US:
STEP 1: It is important that you complete and GRADUATE from your degree program. This is a crucial step in your journey towards permanent residency. Note that maintaining your F1 student visa status is key to keeping your future job prospects viable and as such you must know they you are not allowed to be awag from the US for more than 5 months at a time.
STEP 2: As an F1 visa holder, you are eligible for the Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is a temporary work programme that gives you legal permission to work before and after graduation for up to a year within the field related to your degree. For STEK graduates, you can apply for uo to 24 months extension based on certain conditions.
STEP 3: The OPT provision is not renewable after expiration and you will need to switch to a H1-B visa for speciality occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge derived from a university degree.
This visa application must be filed by a US based employer willing to sponsor you. This visa is exclusive to the company sponsoring you and you are not permitted to run a business with it. The visa is valid for 3 years and can be extended for another 3 years.
Note that there is a quota based system for the H1-B applicant pool which makes it highly competitive.
STEP 4: After the maximum period of the H1-B us reached, your employer would need to aooly got a green card through a petition made on your behalf
This process could take several months with a concatenation of stages. It is therefore recommended that this green card application process is planned well in advance
Your employer will need to demonstrate than no local employees can do your job in order for you to be eligible for the Green Card.