In the US, and after graduating, International students are eligible to apply for OPT, which is a work authorization in the country for a year after graduating, and can be extended for two more.

Unlike a green-card, OPT holders can't stay in the country unless a company sponsors them. Sponsoring would cost the companies some fees, so they always prefer green card holders.

I graduated and applied for my OPT last April. My current work permit is an OPT which will expire in June. It is currently valid and could be renewed when it expires. However, I applied for adjusting my status through marriage, from an international student to a spouse of a US citizen, but OPT is the only work permit I have right now since the green card application is still pending. I should receive it within the next two months or so.

I have an interview tomorrow, a tour within the company then an interview with HR. What would be the best answer to the question "What is your current status in the US"?

I prefer not to mention OPT so that does not decrease my chances in getting an offer.


2 Answers 2


What would be the best answer to "What is your current status in the US"?

A full one. I get why you don't want to mention OPT and you shouldn't put that in any written materials before you're in an interview but it's fine to just be up-front when you can explain the details of your situation. A one-line reply would be fine:

I'm working for my current employer under an OPT which is valid until June of next year, but I'll be receiving my (pending) green card in a few months.

If you expect that you might face (subconscious) discrimination due to your name, educational background or any other details evident from your resume or cover letter, you'll probably want to put your legal status in those. Mention it similar to a degree you'll be receiving soon: "Employment Eligibility: Green Card Holder (expected Jan 2018) / OPT (valid until Jun 2018)".

  • Just be aware that green card granting seems to be a hit and miss thing as far as how long it takes. My non-spousal application was supposed to take a year. It took six months. I’ve heard of applications going the other way, too: supposed to take one, but took two.
    – Peter K.
    Nov 19, 2017 at 23:51
  • @PeterK. non-spousal application?
    – Sandra K
    Nov 20, 2017 at 5:43
  • 1
    @PeterK. It's something you'd mention or at least hint at by changing the wording if the OPT was expiring soon but since the OP has another 8 months to receive her green card that shouldn't be an issue.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 20, 2017 at 8:06
  • @SandraK My green card application was not because of a spouse. It was sponsored by the company I worked for at the time.
    – Peter K.
    Nov 20, 2017 at 12:26
  • 1
    @PeterK. I know that the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) that comes with my spousal application, arrives before the actual green card. And usually arrives 2 to 4 month after applying.
    – Sandra K
    Nov 20, 2017 at 18:23

Legally, the only questions Employers are allowed to ask about your authorization to work in the US are:

  • Are you authorized to work in the US?
  • Will you require sponsorship in the future to work in the US?

If they ask these questions, they must ask both of all candidates. Once a candidate has been hired, but before they start work, more specifics are discussed as the employer is required to actually verify the candidate's authorization to work.

In practice, it is somewhat commonplace to discuss some of the details during the interview process, especially if they are volunteered by the candidate.

In your case, you can't give a 100% guarantee that you won't need sponsorship until you get your green card. So, I would recommend stating during the interview process that you are authorized to work in the US and that you do not anticipate needing sponsorship in the future.

If you feel this leaves things too unclear, then you might give some detail about your adjustment of status being in progress.

  • I like this answer. You are currently authorized to work in the US. You will not require sponsorship to work in the US. Nov 20, 2017 at 17:35
  • @StellaBiderman true, currently I do not require sponsorship, but mentioning OPT in the first Q means yes for the second Q, which is the issue.
    – Sandra K
    Nov 20, 2017 at 18:24
  • @SandraK The point is that during the interview stage, the company is not legally allowed to ask you how you are authorized, only that you are authorized. So there is no need to mention OPT unless you volunteer it. And as for the second question, that's why I suggested saying you don't anticipate needing sponsorship. It's true that if the green card falls through, you would, but it's unlikely that you will need sponsorship.
    – Eric
    Nov 20, 2017 at 18:28
  • 1
    @SandraK The answer to these questions is “yes or no.” After answering “yes” to the first and “no” to the second I’ve never been asked for further details about my arrangements, or about if I’m a US Citizen. Nov 20, 2017 at 18:30

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