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Dear Sophie: 3 questions about immigration and naturalization

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My F-1 OPT will run out this June. My employer has agreed to register me in the H-1B lottery in March.

What are my options if I’m not selected in the lottery?

—Gritty Grad

Dear Gritty,

Depending on your field of study for your most recent degree, you might qualify to renew your work permit through an application for STEM OPT. If eligible and approved, this would extend your work authorization for two years in the United States.

There’s recent good news here! Qualifying for the STEM OPT extension just got easier; the administration recently announced plans to improve access to immigration for folks in STEM fields. Cori Farooqi, an associate attorney at my firm and an expert in family immigration law, and I recently chatted about healthy immigration habits in the new year.

Cori and I agree that creating strategic and backup plans when it comes to immigration and naturalization is an important consideration. Also at the top of both of our lists is to consult an immigration attorney, who can help you achieve your goals based on the latest immigration developments.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

The hot news from last week could be great for you: For the first time, graduates in the fields of data science, data analytics, business analytics, data visualization, financial analytics, social sciences, environmental studies, climate science and more now qualify for the STEM OPT work extension. Just last week, the Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), added 22 fields to the list of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields that qualify for STEM OPT. We could not be more excited!

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