Aayush Agarwal

OPT Success Story: Aayush Agarwal

International students list finding an employment opportunity as the number one factor in determining where they will live after graduation. Aayush Agarwal is no different.

Aayush came to the U.S. from India to study Automotive Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. Like many others in his program, he was drawn to Lawrence Tech and Michigan because of the superior educational and employment opportunities in his chosen specialty. While the harsh Michigan winters make him question his decision to remain, Aayush was able to secure employment with MAHLE Behr, a Tier-1 Automotive Supplier, as an Associate Product Engineer. This made his decision much easier.


Aayush is only one example of the thousands of students working during their Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. OPT is temporary work authorization for international students on F-1 student visas, generally used after a student graduates. All international students are eligible for at least 12 months of OPT after completion of a US degree program. International students who complete a degree with a major in a federally designated STEM field are eligible to apply for 17 additional months of OPT, thus making them eligible for up to 29 total months of work authorization after degree completion.

MAHLE Behr obviously understands the importance of hiring international students such as Aayush. Nearly 40% of Master’s Degree students in Mechanical Engineering in the U.S. are issued to international students. However, many companies, as part of their general policies, automatically disqualify international students if they will ever need sponsorship. This is not only discouraging for international students, but also limits their choice of candidates.

Aayush Agarwal

In his free time, Aayush enjoys playing cricket in summer, photography, and exploring new places.

The President Has Spoken on Immigration: What Does It Mean For YOU?

Among the recent presidential actions on immigration are provisions to modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs – with the greatest economic impact affecting U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.

While specifics won’t be known about changes to economic oriented immigration policy until the guidance and regulations are issued, the effect of changes in the regulations impacting foreign students will be primarily among F1 visa holders. For foreign students specifically, further expansion and extension of optional practical training (OPT) is being proposed which could open the door to great opportunity for both students and employers alike. The next step in this process is for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and public comment on the changes. No timeline for this process has yet been established.

What this means for international students interested in staying in the US after graduation for experiential education could be profound, likely further extending the current 17 month STEM extension period, as well as the expanding the designated degree programs that qualify. Currently, certain students who graduate with a STEM degree are eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months (beyond the standard 12 months) on an optional practical training (OPT) STEM extension. Students may qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT under the following circumstances:

  1. Your degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM designated degree program list
  2. The employer from which you are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program
  3. You have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT
    Approximately 10,000 students are currently working in Michigan on OPT, and over 29,000 international students are studying in Michigan colleges and universities. The purpose of the presidential actions relative to STEM expansion/extension is clear – to further open a pathway to experiential employment in the United States for talented foreign students to lessen the talent shortages so widely reported by employers, while improving the Michigan and national economies.

What can you do as a student? Prepare. Begin by completing a Free profile of yourself on the GTRI GOregistry, and make certain that you have a current “American styled” resume for employers to review.

What can you do as an employer? Prepare. Apply to GTRI to become a Global Opportunity Employer, GOemployer, and consider participating as an employer in the GOregistry for unlimited access to skilled global talent waiting to hear from you. To learn more about the GOregistry please contact Jeff at GTRI at or by calling 517-290-0853.


GOregistry is now ready for student registrations!

Are you an international student interested in finding an internship or full time position through CPT, OPT? Want to work for a company that understands this process and is eager to hire you?

GTRI can help! GOregistry is a searchable registry of international students who are interested in obtaining internships and/or jobs in Michigan called the Global Opportunity Registry. GOregistry will allow international students to create a profile which includes basic information regarding area of study, degree level and graduation dates. The ability to upload a resume and other advanced functionality is coming soon! Employers will then be able to search the database to find qualified candidates for internship or job opportunities.

Want to sign up or learn more? CLICK HERE to get started!