Choosing the USA
Every year, the number of international students in the US rises as more and more students choose the Unites States as the place they wanted to broaden their experience and continue their education. In fact, the US is now the most popular country for international students. Why do so many international students choose U.S. colleges and universities?
Before you pack your bags, you should learn what the U.S. has to offer you:
- Academic Excellence
- Variety of Educational Opportunities
- Cutting-Edge Technology
- Opportunity for Research
- Support Services for International Students
- Global Education and Long-Term Career Prospects
- Campus Life Experience
The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programs exist in traditional disciplines, as well as in professional fields. At the graduate level, students have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest minds in their field of study, with the chance to become involved with exclusive research and educational opportunities. U.S. degrees are recognized throughout the world for their excellence.
Variety of Educational Opportunities
The United States is home to several thousand colleges and universities, boasting at least ten times as many campuses as in any other country. As a result, the higher education system in the U.S. has something for everyone. Some U.S. colleges and universities stress broad educational principles; others emphasize practical, employment-related skills; and still others specialize in the arts, social sciences or technical fields. This means that no matter what you plan on studying, you will have a wide variety of programs in your particular field from which to choose.
Universities in the U.S. pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology, research and techniques, and in making the best possible equipment and resources available to their students. Even if your field does not directly involve science or engineering, you will have opportunities to become skilled in using the latest technology to conduct research, as well as obtain and process information. You will find ways to stay connected with researchers, teachers and experts in your field all over the world.
Opportunity for Research, Teaching and Training
You may be able to gain valuable experience through teaching and/or research while you help to finance your education in the U.S., particularly if you are a graduate student. Many graduate programs offer training and teaching opportunities that enable students to become teaching assistants to undergraduates and/or research assistants on special projects exploring different aspects of your field of study.
International students are some of the most valued teachers and researchers in U.S. universities because they bring new skills and ideas to the classroom and library or laboratory. This practical component of your education will prove useful in your future career, and may give you insights into your field that would not be possible through course study alone.
Although many programs are highly structured in that specific coursework requirements must be met, you will generally be able to find a wide variety of course choices to meet those requirements. For example, liberal arts coursework for an undergraduate program will include classes in languages and mathematics, but you will be given a wide variety of classes which fit those requirements, and the freedom to decide which classes best match your interests.
At the advanced stages of a degree, or if you are pursuing a graduate degree, you will be able to tailor your coursework to fit your specific academic goals, needs and interests. When you choose topics for independent study for a graduate thesis or dissertation, you can emphasize ideas that are important to you, your field and your country.
Support Services for International Students
Studying in the United States is a rewarding experience, but navigating your way through day-to-day issues can be a challenge. Many international students find that the college and university international student office is a great resource when it comes to adapting to a culturally and academically different environment. The mission of the international student office is to assist students like you, and there is often a wide range of student services that they provide
An orientation program upon your arrival is just the start of the many programs and benefits of the university international student office – throughout your time in the U.S., they can help answer questions you may have regarding your visa status, financial situation, housing, employment possibilities, health concerns and more. If you choose to complete your degree in the United States, this office often provides resume and employment assistance as graduation nears. The international student office will be an invaluable source of information and help as you make the transition into academic and cultural life in the United States.
Global Education and Long-Term Career Prospects
Experience in an international setting is a marketable commodity. Many employers seek the wide range of knowledge, adaptability and experience that international students acquire by studying in the United States. Companies in the U.S. are increasingly seeking to become a strong presence in the global marketplace. They often look to hire employees who not only have multi-cultural language skills, but those who can also help communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures.
The United States is not the only country seeking strong candidates when hiring; international students are in high demand elsewhere, as well. In recent years, international companies have become much more proactive in recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates. Your long-term career prospects can be enhanced by your experiences through the development of self-confidence, independence and cross-cultural skills – attributes which are in high demand with employers worldwide.
Campus Life Experience
When you continue your studies in the U.S., you are making a choice to broaden not only your educational opportunities, but your cultural experience, as well. Whether you attend a small, private college in a small town or a university situated in the middle of a large urban area, most universities offer a variety of student clubs and organizations to match the wide array of student interests. You can have the opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, meeting new people and making new friends, through different organizations and associations.
International students often find that the international student office is a good starting point for campus offerings, as well as the campus student center. Your time studying abroad can be enriched by taking part in the social and cultural scene surrounding you, and you will likely find that U.S. campuses provide a rich variety academic, cultural and athletic activities that add new dimensions to your life.
Most U.S. colleges and universities will require international undergraduate and graduate students to demonstrate their knowledge and English language proficiency as part of the admissions process through standardized tests. These tests are valuable as a common measure of the skills and abilities of people from different educational backgrounds. Your scores on these tests will play a role in determining whether or not you are admitted to your schools of choice, so learn as much as you can about them before you have to take them.
Admission Test Overview
Which test/s will you be expected to take as an undergraduate? A graduate student? Click here for a comprehensive list of possible types of standardized tests.
Test Preparation and Fees
You need to plan in advance to take a standardized test, pay a fee and always come prepared to do your best.
Computer Based Standardized Testing
Many tests are now offered on computer. Learn what types of computer-based testing is offered and how it can help you.
Tips to Ensure Test Success
Read our test tips and strategies to ensure that you will take a successful test.
For students preparing to apply to colleges, we offer test preparation advice to help you prepare for any standardized tests you need to take.
School curriculum varies by country, not only in language but also in practice. Many schools accepting students from other countries require the official status of your school and need to verify the authenticity of documents. This is where credential evaluators come in. Your school may require you to submit transcripts to a credential evaluator who will examine your credentials and translate the documents into your host country curriculum for review. Learn More
What is Credential Evaluation?
The United States is one of the largest education markets in the world and receives a massive inflow of international students. The diversity of applicants and their respective education systems requires a common ground for evaluating educational credentials.
That being said, how does a school recognize the credentials of a foreign student? That is where credential evaluators come in to play. Credential evaluators play a crucial role in this educational transition for students planning to study overseas. Credential evaluators work on a well-formulated ethical standard and serve people who have completed part or all of their education outside their host country and who are seeking further education abroad (or even professional licensure or employment).
Credential Evaluators generally offer 3 types of evaluations:
1. Course by Course Credential Evaluation
The course by course credential evaluation report identifies and describes each diploma/certificate and provides an equivalency for each document. It indicates a description of periods of education, courses, credit hours, grades and degrees, as well as overall academic performance in terms of the educational system in the United States (or your host country). The United States typically uses semester credits and a grade point average, or GPA, on a 4.0 scale.This type of report is generally required for college admissions, determining transfer credits or when applying for an advanced degree, as well as for professional licensing and certification matters.Documents required in this case include, but are not limited to, originals or certified copies of school transcripts (mark sheets) showing subjects studied, grades and credit hours earned for each course of study.
2. Educational Credential Evaluation (document by document)
The document by document credential evaluation report describes and lists the educational institution(s) attended and the education credential(s) earned in a foreign country and states their U.S. equivalence (e.g. Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, etc.). This type of credential evaluation is most common for use in employment, immigration matters and university admission when transfer credit is not expected.The documents required in this case include (but are not limited to) originals or certified copies of all original academic documentation – diplomas, certificates and/or transcripts (indicating graduation date and major) with English translations if necessary.
3. Professional Work Experience Evaluation
The professional work experience credential evaluation is provided for immigration purposes most commonly for those applying for H-1B visas in the United States. This credential evaluation report evaluates both an individual’s professional work history and educational credentials in order to establish a Bachelor’s degree equivalency. This type of credential evaluation cannot be used for educational or licensure purposes.The documents required in this case include, but are not limited to, certified copies of all original academic documentation – diplomas, degree, certificates and/or transcript (indicating graduation date and major) with English translations, a detailed resume indicating each position held, with a description of job duties and responsibilities, start and end date of each position and project, including tools and skills used and employer’s name and geographical location. Also, reference letters of employment from each employer, indicating job title, start date, end date, and job descriptions (basically attesting to the basic facts of the employment summary).Many credential evaluation agencies also provide professional resume writing services.
Some credential evaluators may also have a CPA Board Evaluation for those applying for state Certified Public Accounting exams, amongst other evaluations.
Forged or altered documents are handled very seriously by U.S. credential evaluator since establishing the validity of academic credentials is the most important purpose of the evaluation process. Credential evaluators communicate any doubt to the institution that issued the document to verify it. If the institution confirms that the document is not authentic, the receiving U.S. institution may be notified along with it being entered into various records.
Most acclaimed credential evaluation agencies have a rigorous application procedure with excruciatingly detailed document requirements. This only further reinforces the credibility of the credential evaluator and also that of the applicant.
There is no government agency that specially monitors these foreign credential evaluation services and therefore most of them are affiliated with various associations. Affiliation with a selective association is an important indication of the quality of work accomplished by a credential evaluation service and an assurance that the evaluations it performs will be reliable.
As an international student, one thing you need to consider that US students don’t is the matter of student visas. You may want to visit our Student Visa page to familiarize yourself with the type of visa for which you will need to apply.
International students often underestimate the amount of time required to apply for admission to a college or university in the United States. You can avoid this mistake by setting a schedule for yourself that begins well in advance of the time that you plan to begin your studies.
When setting your timetable, lways remember that starting the process early is the best way forward. You will need to allow yourself sufficient time to thoroughly research the institution and/or program that will best serve your academic and professional goals. Then you must meet the application deadlines of the universities to which you apply, which may be up to ten months before the beginning of the school term.
Especially for schools with competitive admissions, the application process takes a significant amount of time and effort. You will need to write personal statements and request recommendations from teachers or others who know you well. Even if you are applying on line via the Common Application, you will want to get started early. University websites and other academic Internet sites may provide quick and convenient access to the required application forms, but you still need time to research your options, contact teachers and institutions to provide recommendations and transcripts, and sign up for required entrance exams in time to meet application deadlines.
This application timeline will provide you with detailed information about the steps you should take and when you should take them in order to plan your approach to studying in the USA. The plan starts 18 months before you wish to study, so you need to get planning soon! Of course, if you don’t have that much time you can still jump in and catch up – but there earlier the better! Learn More
The application timeline will help you plan out your 18 months leading up to studying in the USA.
18 Months Before U.S. Study
- Research various colleges and universities programs
- Register and prepare for required entrance exams
- Keep working hard in school
12-14 Months Before U.S. Study
- Choose the schools to which you will apply
- Obtain all necessary information and forms for each school
- Take required entrance exams
10-12 Months Before U.S. Study
- Request any forms and information again, if necessary
- Identify your references and supply them with required reference forms
- Request transcripts from your school/s
- Write your application essay (also called a “personal statement”)
10 Months Before U.S. Study
- Retake entrance exams if scores were unsatisfactory
- Line up all required financing
- Complete and mail applications
- Electronic Applications: An Additional Note
3 Months Before U.S. Study
- Apply for your student visa
- Research health insurance options for your time abroad
- Make travel arrangements for when you arrive in the U.S.
oregon state univeristy
sanjose state university
oklahoma state university
univ of south Florida
colorado state university
new york univ
kansas state univ
univ of Massachusetts
george mason univ
carnegie mellon univ
university of north carolina Charlotte
THE USA “AFTER GRADUATION”
Working in the USA
Working in the US as an International Student
If you are an international student studying in the US, you have the opportunity to work part-time but remember that you are restricted by the terms of your visa.
It is a MUST that you know all the requirements and restrictions concerning your visa!
Please be sure to visit our international student immigration center to learn more about your visa and consult an immigration attorney if you have any questions.
US Employment Rules for F1 Students
Most international students in the United States hold an F-1 visa, which is the U.S. non-immigrant student visa. F-1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Generally, all employment is contingent on remaining within the terms and restrictions of your F-1 visa. There are several categories of employment during the term of your stay as an F-1 student in the United States. On-campus employment is the most freely available, and then there are four categories of off-campus employment:
- On-Campus Employment
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Economic Hardship
- International Institutions
On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools do require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office prior to accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student’s first semester or year.
For on-campus work, an F-1 student is subject to the following rules:
- You must maintain valid F-1 status
- You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
- You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the next academic semester
- The employment may not displace (take a job away from) a U.S. resident
The definition of on-campus employment includes:
- Work performed on the school’s premises directly for your school (including work affiliated with a grant or assistantship).
- Work performed for on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria (Employment with on-site commercial firms which do not provide direct student services, such as a construction company building a school building, is not deemed on-campus employment for the purposes of the rule).
- Work performed at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school. The educational affiliation must be associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level. In any event, the employment must be an integral part of the student’s educational program.
Since your status is always contingent on your school’s support, you must seek guidance and clearance from your International Student Office prior to applying for or accepting any employment and you should request their particular interpretation of any ambiguous situation. You will also need your school’s guidance to ensure that you file all appropriate forms with USCIS and receive any necessary USCIS approval.
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Optional Practical Training (OPT)
International students in the U.S. in valid F-1 immigration status are permitted to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status both during and after completion of their degree. Rules established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) govern the implementation of OPT, and all OPT employment requires prior authorization from USCIS and from your school’s International Student Office.
You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and you have been enrolled for at least a year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for your OPT EAD, and your OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US. Start early—USCIS takes up to 90 days to process your application—and make sure you work closely with your school’s International Student Office. As with everything you will do while in the U.S., permission is based on maintaining lawful F-1 status and your International Student Office is there to help you maintain that status throughout your stay.
General OPT Requirements:
- Employment must be “directly related” to the student’s major
- Student must maintain lawful F-1 status
- Student must apply for OPT before completion of all work towards a degree
- Students who have engaged in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are not eligible for OPT
- OPT is permitted for up to 12 months full-time in total – part-time OPT (while still in school) reduces available full-time OPT by half of the amount of part-time work (for instance, if you work part time for 6 months, you can work full-time for up to 9 months)
OPT before completing a degree:
- Students must be enrolled in school full-time
- Students may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session
- Students may work full-time during summer and other breaks (as long as the student will return to school after the break)
- Student may work full-time after completion of all coursework, if a thesis or dissertation is still required and student is making normal progress towards the degree
OPT after completing a degree:
- After completion of your degree, OPT work must be full time (40 hours/week)
- All OPT must be completed within 14 months after completion of your degree
- Applications for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS before the completion of the degree
One Final Note – Be mindful of the travel regulations governing F-1 students on OPT. If you leave the country after completion of your degree, but before receiving your EAD and obtaining a job, you may not be readmitted. You can leave the country after completion of your degree if you have your EAD and a job, but make sure you bring everything that you’ll need to get back in (including valid passport, valid EAD card, valid F1 visa, all your I-20s with page 3 endorsed for travel by your international student advisor within the past 6 months, and a letter of employment, including dates of employment and salary).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option for F-1 students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, the work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must awarded. And yes, you can get paid for CPT employment. Prior authorization by your school’s International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.
To be eligible for CPT employment:
- You must have been enrolled in school full-time for one year on valid F-1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
- The CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit
- You must have received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request
- Your job offer must be in your major or field of study
Your International Student Office must authorize you for CPT. Once you receive CPT authorization, you can only work for the specific employer and for the specific dates authorized (unlike with OPT or severe economic hardship off-campus employment, where you can work anywhere in the US). Your CPT authorization will also specify whether you are approved for part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT employment. While in school, you can only be approved for part-time CPT.
Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long you can work. However, if you work full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, you are not eligible for OPT. If you work part-time on CPT, or full-time on CPT for less than 12 months, you are still eligible for all of your allowable OPT. So make sure you watch the dates and hours closely – don’t jeopardize your OPT!
As with all employment, you should work closely with your International Student Office. The general rules will apply somewhat differently to undergraduates, graduate students and PhD candidates, and they can guide you. The office can help you determine your eligibility for CPT, make sure your job offer qualifies, and make sure you follow all necessary steps in applying to USCIS. They also have to authorize your CPT, so you have no choice – you have to work with them. But they are pros, especially when it comes to USCIS regulations, so use them – they are there to help you.
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