You’re a foreign student who studied hard at a U.S. college, and now you want to work in your field of study in the U.S.

Finding the right job — one that uses your skills, while deepening your experience, paying well, and enhancing future resumes — takes time. Don’t wait until you’re graduating to look for a job. Start looking 6 months to a year before you graduate. Here are some job-hunting tips:

Network — Let your friends, family, teachers, counselors, and social organizations know that you’re job hunting. People love to pass along job opportunities — it’s an easy way to really help someone they care about. Also, they aren’t going to knowingly pass along a bad opportunity. And they know you, so are more likely to notice if a job description might actually be a match. Finally, friends are more likely to have an affiliation with the jobs they refer and may let you mention them when applying. If you don’t know a lot of people, start getting to know them. Attend networking opportunities with an awareness that any interaction could be a new beginning.

Resume — Your resume needs to be error-free and tailored to the job for which you’re applying. In other words, unless your written English is exceptional, consider paying an expert to make sure that your resume looks professional and doesn’t contain mistakes. Make sure that the skills listed are relevant to the description of the job for which you’re applying. This means you may have more than one version of your resume. It costs more in time and money, but it’s worth it to get the job you want. Make sure that your profile on professional platforms like LinkedIn meets these same standards. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, you should limit resumes to 1 page.

Patience — Job hunting can be discouraging. You complete a ton of applications and go to interviews, sometimes only to receive a curt email that you weren’t selected. Timing is so important and not always up to you. Just don’t give up, and keep your eyes open for your chance.

How to get a work permit

Around graduation, you may be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) — a work permit — that proves you have permission to work in the U.S. for a specific time. This includes students who will work in practical training relating to their majors and those who are extending their first EAD for work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As temporary residents of the U.S., most students need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to apply for, renew, or replace a work permit.

Academic students F-1 academic visa holders who will work at practical training jobs directly related to their major after completing their degrees can apply for work permits up to 90 days before the program ends or within 60 days after it ends.  

Vocational students M-1 vocational visa students who are completing their studies can apply for an EAD to work in a practical training job.  Vocational students must apply for an EAD at least 15 days but not more than 60 days before their program ends. Vocational students must apply for a different visa at the same time that they apply for an EAD. This means that along with the EAD application, you’d file Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

STEM extension A student who received a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed on the current Designated Degree Program List who already has an EAD for STEM work may apply for a one-time extension of a current EAD when the student won’t complete practical training within 24 months after receiving their degree. You can apply up to 90 days before the current EAD expires and within 60 days of the date your school recommends you.