You were not sure if you wanted to immigrate to the United States, but you got into a good college. You applied for a student visa and decided you’d make up your mind when the program ended. It would give you a chance to find out more about the realities of living in the country and make an educated decision.

Now your program is done, and you do want to stay. Can you just start putting down roots? You’re already in the United States, after all. Why not just begin your career and move forward with your life?

It’s not that simple. You cannot overstay your student visa. You have to leave the United States no more than two months (60 days) after your college program wraps up.

What you actually need to do is change your status. You can apply to do this, and it’s best to do so as soon as possible. Maybe you got a job offer, for example. Right away, you want to apply for a work visa so that your status is not tied to your education. If it’s granted, then you can stay under these new terms. You do not necessarily have to leave the country and enter again.

However, if you do not change your status and you simply overstay your student visa, it can cause a whole host of problems. If you then applied for a work visa after becoming “out of status,” you may get denied.

You don’t want to make any crucial mistakes with the immigration process. You need to know what legal steps to take.