You’ve arrived in the US and are ready to get started! Below are some steps that you will need to follow. Some people find it helpful to create a checklist or keep a journal as they go through these steps.
After arriving on campus, international students are required to attend an orientation session and “check in” at the International Office. This is a very important event where you can get a lot of information which will help you navigate waters a lot better. A lot of universities have multiple campuses and a lot of you will spend time moving around to get to your classes. This event is a great way to meet new people and make some friends right away. Some international student may have language barriers but you’ll be surrounded by people from all over the world who have a similar mindset so don’t let that bother you.
Health care in the United States is very expensive so one of the first things that you need to do is have that paid for. A lot of colleges have a pre-determined plan selected for International Students for their convenience. This should be covered in the orientation and make sure you have that paid for as soon as you can.
Selecting schools from some other part of the world is a tough decision. If, for whatever reason, you feel that you need to transfer schools you should start by contacting the admissions office of the school you wish to transfer to since the process varies.
You can transfer schools at anytime and even if you have completed some courses you may be able to transfer them. Each school has different rules on transfers so depending on which point in time you choose to transfer your case may vary.
International students have certain restrictions on the type of jobs you can take. You will not be allowed to work off-campus jobs, which leaves you with limited options. Usually universities do a good job at producing on campus jobs and they fill up pretty quick so you better get in your applications in as soon as you can. Some of these jobs can be a lot of fun and also help you stay involved with all the cool stuff happening.
There is one exception to the off-campus employment and that is and internship. Internships can be some of the most fun, challenging and rewarding jobs you may take on as a student. There are some that are unpaid but if you manage to get one that pays… hurray!
There are certain rules associated with the kinds of Internships you can take on. The rules generally revolve around the internship being related to your field of study. Once you qualify for that you should be good to go.
If you manage to get an internship that brings us to our next topic – CPT or Curriculum Practical Training. CPT is a program authorized by the USCIS. The intent of this program is to allow international students to apply their learnt skills in an actual work environment and get some real world experience.
According to the immigration laws the work the student will potentially do can be an internship, cooperative education job, practicum, any other work experience that is required as part of your degree completion or one for which academic credit is awarded.
OPT or Optional Practical Training is temporary employment authorization authorized from the USCIS. The idea behind OPT is to allow the student to obtain real world experience within the realm of their study. An OPT is usually obtained post completion of the study program. The standard OPT duration is 12 months and depending on whether your degree falls under the STEM category you will be eligible for a 24 month extension. In certain cases, you may be able to obtain your OPT pre-completion of your study program.
There are certain rules associated with OPT and your International Office should be able to help you with better understanding those rules. For example one rule is that your job offer should be related to your field of study.
Once a Student is on OPT he/she is usually working for a company in their respective fields. Certain employers will apply for your H-1B visa (work visa) while you are on your OPT and if you get it, you’ll go through a change in status.
The H-1B is a whole different ball game but we are here to help you along your journey.
Congratulations! Once you’ve completed your Student Visa application and arrived in the United States, you will begin your educational journey. As you get closer to completing your degree, don’t forget to start viewing our GreenCardEZ information on how to apply for an H1-B Work Visa so you can start a new job!