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International students in the USA

Competition is heating up among countries that seek to clinch the number one position as being the top study destination for bright minds from all over the world. And due to the fact that there are any more options available for international students, the top guns cannot afford to rest as the competition ever gets tighter. Despite this, however, the United States remains the ultimate destination of study for international students from all over the globe.

The United States has maintained an excellent reputation for delivering high-quality education for so long and that is why it still has the largest number of international students of any country. As of present, the US is resident to almost 1.1 million students studying in its various institutes of higher education. The United States is home to over 4000 Universities and Colleges, a staggering number, but not all are eligible for admitting international students. For any University or College to be able to grant admission to international Students, it needs to get approved by the United States Immigration and Customs agencies.

Before Leaving

As an international student about to leave for a foreign land, you need to make sure that all arrangements have been made to make sure that your arrival and transition into the American life will be smooth. It is very important for the international student to be sure of where they’ll be staying once they set foot on US soil. Various accommodation options are available from the University provided accommodation, to off-campus rents or the student might arrange to live in with a host family.

It is also very vital that your first day must not be smeared with unnecessary difficulty, and as such before setting off, it will be wise to arrange the necessary transport that will convey you from the Airport once you land. If you have a family or friend that could pick you up, do that. Else arrange an Uber or ask for help at the customer help desk at the Airport when you arrive. But before you get ahead of yourself making preparations, you must ensure you have been granted a Visa before attempting to travel.

Visa Requirements

The US Visa is among the most coveted of any place in the world. Before an international student can apply for a visa, they have to make sure that they have duly applied and successfully gained admission in any of the eligible Universities in the country. After getting successfully admitted, the student can now head to the US embassy in their home country and apply for a visa. There are several categories of Visas that are available for application for the international student, they are:

  • F-1 Visa: This is a visa category that is granted to international students studying full-time at an academic institution or in language programs
  • M-1 Visa: This is for full-time international students that have enrolled in vocational or other non-academic schools.
  • F-3 Visa: This is a Visa category that is main target for students from the other North American countries of Mexico and Canada. The Visa is open for students who either study full-time or part-time in any academic institution
  • M-3 Visa: This is also for Mexican and Canadian students on either part-time or full-time studies in a vocational institute or other non-academic schools.
  • J-1 Visa: This is the Visa category that applies to students on exchange programs.

All the above mentioned Visas automatically expire at the end of a student’s enrolled program. However, F-1 Visa category students have the option to seek a 1-year extension for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training

This is a program that offers the international student an opportunity to get a taste of being a part of the US workforce by allowing them to work in a position that is relevant to their field of study for a duration of 1 year. This work program is a full-time basis endeavour and it offers the student a unique chance to gain vital work experience after finishing their studies. It is, of course, optional as no student is compelled to do it. The timing can also be adjusted as some students prefer to do it concurrently with their studies, in which case it is named concurrent practical training (CPT) which is done part-time due to the student’s academic commitments.

The American Dream

The United States continues to be the most welcoming country on the planet for international students because it also derives massive economic and intellectual benefits from doing that. The International students studying over the years have contributed on a major scale to the dominance the US has enjoyed over the world economy for the past century or so.

In just a year 2016 it is estimated that international students have contributed almost $40 billion to the US economy all by themselves. But the Students themselves only keep on trooping to the US because it offers the chance to excel based on merit and hard work. The chance of being part of the famous American Dream is one of the biggest points of attraction that draws students from all over the world.

After Study

International students have options of staying longer in the United States after concluding their programs. For example, if the student decides to pursue second degree, they are free to apply for a fresh Visa , and will still be eligible for another 12 month OPT at the end of their Masters.  While a student that gained entry into the US using the F-1 Visa has the option of commuting their Visas into a temporary worker Visa or any other kind that suits their requirement.

The United States offers some of the best environments for students to excel and achieve great things. International students have gone on to be CEOs of great American startups in the past and the US still remains one of the best places for brilliant students to find funding to bring their ideas to life.

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