Universities in the U.S. attract international students for many reasons. The statistics say that over 500,000 international students are pursuing their higher education degrees in the U.S. At the time of applying for a student visa, most international students are questioned as to why they want to study in the U.S. Following are the top 10 reasons why international choose U.S. colleges and universities:
The U.S. provides some of worlds finest higher education, especially in the field of technology. U.S. degrees are recognized all over the world and are considered to be one of the best in the world
The U.S. is the right choice for research professionals. There are many opportunities to do research in any field. The funding for most of the research projects are sponsored by the U.S. Government or by corporations. Also, many companies provide projects for the students in the neighboring universities to gain practical experience during their studies. Most of the research students receive waivers for their tuition fees and in some cases they are also provided with a stipend to help with their living expenses.
Flexibility in Course Curriculum
While most programs are structured very well, students also have the option to choose many other subjects as part of their course. Students have an opportunity to emphasize and narrow down topics of specific interest in their field of study. Sometimes students may even choose subjects from other universities as part of their studies.
Financial assistance is normally provided to international students, because pursuing higher education in the U.S. is expensive. Most of the universities financially support the international students either in the form of providing teaching or research assistantships. These assistantships are based on academic merit, rather than financial need. Awarded students will receive stipends, or either partial or complete tuition waivers. U.S. education could turn out to be completely free if the student exhibits exceptional skills in his or her field of study. Students also have the opportunity to receive grants, loans, and scholarships from various organizations.
Most of the universities allow students to work on their campus as either part-time or full-time employees. The students are paid minimum wage on an hourly rate, and their earnings help to cover their cost of living. Students are placed based on their financial need and personal skills. For example, an English major may be placed at the university library, while someone who has a Lifeguard certification may be placed at the campus Aquatic Center.
Students are allowed to work in their respective fields outside the campus for approximately three months as Interns during summer vacation. There are Intern programs during the academic year as well. Internships are a valuable part of education, as they help students gain practical experience while taking classes. Most universities offer academic credit for internship experience.
Once students complete their degree, they are authorized to work for one year in a related field, in order to gain practical knowledge. Students are allowed to work full-time (40 hours per week) by applying for an Optional Practical Training Employment Authorization (OPT). Many talented students are hired as a permanent employee after their OPT, by getting an H1B work visa sponsorship from their employers. H1B is a temporary work permit for foreign nationals to work in specialty occupations like Software, Engineering, Teaching, Accounting, or Marketing. Students may continue their work without leaving the U.S. after the F1- H1B status change approval.
Reorganization of International Students
U.S. universities provide extraordinary support to international students. Every university in the U.S. that enrolls international students has a separate office to help and guide these students from the very first day.
Apart from education, international students get to interact with students from various countries and diverse cultures. This shapes them to a large extent and enables the international students to become world-class professionals, once they complete their education,
The success of any student will be directly proportional to the amount of dedication and hard work he or she exercises. Undoubtedly, the U.S. offers a very high quality of education. The variety of skills and cross-culture environment can make the learning experience in U.S. universities a rich and unique one. With such diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, international students are better prepared for working with absolute ease anywhere in the world.
This section is for students who wish to apply to a university themselves, without the help of a consultant, such as F1study.com. The first step of the application process is for students to get the application forms from the universities of their choice. Once they have decided on a set of prospective universities, they must collect information such as the departments general queries e-mail address. Most universities send an application form upon request, but some universities require prospective students to fill out an online request. Many universities do not send applications or brochures to international locations, so students are required to print the form off of the website. It is always preferable to apply through online applications. For Fall semester admission, students should start requesting forms in January or February of the previous year. For Spring semester admission, the application should be completed by August. As the application package takes a minimum of one month to arrive, it is advisable to do it early. Keep tabs on the universities, and if they do not respond within a couple weeks, re-send the request.
When applying to several different universities, it might be a good idea to create a separate email account for the entire application process. This will prevent other miscellaneous emails from getting mixed up with important ones.
Choosing a university from overseas is a very difficult task. There are over 4,000 U.S. universities, and they all offer a wide variety of courses. The following information is important criteria to consider when choosing a university:
It is up to each individual student to decide which criteria is most important when choosing a university. Consultants like F1study.com can help students narrow down the choices by listing important factors. The goal is to help students find the best university for them. F1study.com also provides information about university fees, available programs, financial assistance opportunities, campus jobs, and the cost of living.
Applying to a U.S. university is a very different from applying to universities in other parts of the world. Getting admitted in a U.S. university is not an easy task. Even though it takes lot of hard work, the results are rewarding. There are over 3,000 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. that accept international students. Other than this, there are nearly 2,000 private and community colleges, many of which are as good as the state-supported schools. Students should choose the university that fits their needs and goals the best. The best way for a student to begin his or her search is to first decide on a Major. Then he or she can research colleges and universities that specialize in the chosen field of study.
Students planning to pursue their degree in the U.S. should start their preparatory work at least 6-7 months before they plan to begin their studies. In the U.S., there are two admission times per year. Classes for the Fall semester begin in August and classes for the Spring semester begin in January. Most students typically begin in the Fall semester.
Types of Admission
The students application will be forwarded to the admission committee as soon as the university receives all necessary documents. This process enables candidates to receive an admission decision within a reasonable amount of time after submitting an application. The decision typically arrives about two months after the application process is complete. Receiving a quick decision allows the student to plan his or visa interview well in advance. If the university does not have rolling admission, they usually have a specific deadline, and no applications are evaluated before this deadline, no matter how early they receive the application documents. All admission decision letters are then mailed to candidates on the same day, which is generally in late March or early April. Usually the deadline dates will be earlier than the universities who have rolling admission.
Application evaluation and admission decisions are made based on several factors. Each university follows their own set of rules for considering the applications. In general, a students academic performance and test scores play major roles in the admission decisions. A history of good academic performance is more important than very high-test scores, just as individual section scores are more important total test scores. Many universities expect a minimum score in each section of the students test results.
Excellent undergraduate performance - especially in the Major courses - is necessary for admission into a Masters degree program. For example, if a student is applying for an engineering program, he or she should have high grades in the areas of math and science. If there are too many applications with a similar set of scores, then the university considers all other aspects of an individuals application, such as extra-curricular activities, or published papers.
Admission records are very confidential and can be obtained only by the student or student-authorized person. The student must provide written consent for any third party, other than University staff, to access his or her educational record.
There are two types of Bachelors degrees - Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) - both of which take typically four years to complete. International students on F1 visa status cannot study part-time and must maintain full-time status. If the student in already in the U.S. on a different visa, then he or she may be eligible to do part-time studies, which may take more than four years to complete. One of the most attractive features of the Bachelors degree program is that it is highly flexible. Students can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create their own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after the student completes a specified number of credits - usually 120 - over a typical period of four years. The first year is called the freshman year, the second is the sophomore, the third is the junior, and the fourth is the senior. In their senior year, students write a thesis for their chosen Major
The U.S. university application process is a lengthy procedure that requires students to fill out many documents. Documents may differ, based on the department to which a student is applying. Therefore, it is very important to read the instructions carefully. Some universities do not process the application until they receive all the documents. Some universities provides conditional admission if the student is still completing his or her current course. Following is a list of required documents for an international applicant:
|Document Preparation Instruction||Copies|
|Application Document Checklist||1|
|University Application: Specify Application ID if applied online||1|
|Financial Support Form: Please use university form if available.||1|
|Transcripts of Previous Degree: A copy of the degree or provisional certificate and all the mark sheets will be one set. Each set should be in separate envelope and sealed by the university. Students should write their full name and the name of the university to which they are applying on the envelope.||2|
|3 Letters of Recommendation: Each letter should be in a sealed envelop with the references name on the front. Students should write their full name and the name of the university to which they are applying on the envelope.||1|
|Bank Statement: An original copy of a recent bank statement should reflect the cash balance as required by the university.||1|
|Statement of Purpose: This should not be longer than two pages.||1|
|Standardized Test Scores: Scores must be sent to the universities through ETS||1|
|TOEFL Test Scores: Scores must be sent to the universities through ETS.||1|
|Passport Copies: Copy the front and back of photo ID and signature pages.||1|
Most applications ask for a statement of interest or an autobiographical statement. It is important for students to thoroughly research a field of study before applying to it. That way, they can effectively write about how they will fit into the program and how they program will best help them obtain the career of their choice. Admissions committees are impressed by students who have a strong sense of self and can creatively express themselves through writing. Students should begin their Statement of Purpose in a way that will catch the readers attention, such as with a quote or personal anecdote. A students Statement of Purpose should describe the following:
As part of the application procedure, every university requires students to send three letters of recommendation. These letters should be from professional references, such as teachers or employers, who can verify that the student is an outstanding candidate for a program. Family, friends, and character witnesses should not be references. It is important that the person providing the recommendation has a good understanding of the students academic history, interests, goals, and direction. The letters should be confidential and not be discussed with the applicant. Therefore, it is important that the applicant choose references that he or she can trust to write a good recommendation. Following are several points to remember:
The resume should provide a snapshot of the students life on approximately two pages. Students should verify the following in their resume:
Hundreds of thousands of students apply for student visas to come to the U.S. from around the world. Recent changes in visa issuance policies and procedures have made it more difficult to get a visa in a timely manner. Students should apply for their visa as soon as the necessary documents are obtained. In some countries, getting an appointment for the visa interview itself may take more than a month, so students should always plan ahead and leave themselves more time than they think they need.
The U.S. government implemented many changes in various procedures after September 11 to make sure that both U.S. citizens and visitors were safe. Two new measures allow the U.S. government to know that the students are following its education program. Registration after arrival in the U.S. is the starting point for the student tracking system. Students should always contact their chosen universitys international officer with any questions about obtaining a visa. After a student is granted admission to a university, he or she will receive an I-20A-B form that denotes that the student is admitted and eligible to apply for a visa.
The immigration laws of the U.S. permit foreign students to come to the U.S. to attend school at many academic levels. U.S. universities can get authorization and documentation from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at http://uscis.gov to allow students to obtain an F-1 non-immigrant student visa classification in their home country. This document is called the I-20 form. Upon receiving the I-20, a student may file an F-1 student visa at the U.S. consulate in his or her home country.
There are two types of non-immigrant student visas: the F-1 visa and the J-1 visa. The student should make sure which visa he or she will be entitled to before applying for one. Dependents are allowed to accompany students, and may be granted F-2 or J-2 visa classification. A foreign student in the F-1 classification may stay in the U.S. for an extended period of time to complete degrees or continuing education, and may be allowed to work in the U.S. by changing his or her status to a H1B work visa.
Usually the F-1 visa will be issued for the period of study. For example, if the student is joining a Bachelors program, then he or she may be granted four or five years. If the student is applying for a Masters program, then he or she may be granted three to five years.
A U.S. education is expensive for most international students. However, there are many options -- such as scholarships, loans, grants, and assistantships - available to help minimize expenses. Expenses can be divided into two major categories: tuition and fees, and living expenses.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition is the cost of instruction, while fees are charges for services such as the library, student activities, or the health center. International students are required to pay both tuition and fees. Some universities may also charge international students an additional mandatory health insurance fee. Please refer to the Campus Life section of this guide for more information about student health insurance and available options. Tuition varies from university to university.
The amount charged by a particular college depends on the type of school. Tuition and fees are generally higher for private universities than for state universities. Community, technical, and vocational colleges charge the lowest fees of all. State universities charge out-of-state residents higher tuition than in-state residents. International students studying at state schools will have to pay the out of state tuition (which is higher rate than the in state tuition). Most of the university charges students by credit hours and to be a full-time student there may be a minimum requirement of 8-12 credit hours. Some universities charge full-time tuition instead of by number of credit hours, allowing students to pay the same amount regardless of how many classes they are taking. F1study.com can help students to choose the university with the lowest fees if the student has financial constraints.
Accommodation, food, transportation, and personal expenses are considered living expenses. Expenses vary from city to city, with the cost of living in a metropolitan area will be higher than a small town. Students can choose to live on-campus housing or find their own place off-campus. Students who live on-campus do not have to worry about transportation to classes, because everything is within walking distance. Food is also less of a worry, because on-campus students either have kitchen facilities, or may select a university meal plan. Students who choose to live off-campus should consider finding at least one roommate so that the rent and living expenses can be divided.
Traveling to the United States
Before the student travels to the U.S., he or she must inform the university, so that any necessary arrangements can be made ahead of time, such as transportation from the airport, directions to the campus, and where to check-in upon arrival. It is advisable to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the flight departure time. If the students university is in a city where there is no international airport, then the student must fly into the nearest airport obtain the customs and immigration clearance before traveling to the final destination. If the student has to change planes en route, then he or she should make sure that there is enough time to collect baggage and complete the immigration and customs formalities. It is advisable to choose a flight with at least a three hour layover. Students should remember to prepare the following items before they depart:
It is important to check in advance with the airline about the luggage requirements as it varies from each airline. Most of the airlines allow students to carry extra luggage than the allowed limit for other passengers. In general, passengers are allowed two pieces of baggage to be checked in, each of which may be upto 70 lbs (32 Kgs) and also subject to certain dimensional restrictions. Passengers are also allowed to carry one piece of hand luggage on board.
It is highly recommended to have a spare set of clothes in carry-on baggage, in case the checked-in baggage is delayed or lost upon arrival. This may happen occasionally and passengers are entitled to monetary compensation from the airline for the loss. Please contact the nearest desk of the airline concerned immediately after the loss is noticed. Always keep valuables - cash, travelers checks, passport, visa documents, airplane tickets, International Driving Permit, Original Educational Certificates - in the carry-on baggage. Do not put them in the checked-in baggage. It is also advisable to keep a copy of all the documents at home before leaving for the U.S.
Before landing, each person arriving in the U.S. must fill out the Customs Declaration Form 6059B, which is distributed on the plane. It is not required to itemize items brought to the U.S. for personal use, such as clothing or toiletries. The forms are used to declare the value of any gifts or business items that passengers have brought with them to the U.S.
Jewelry or similar articles of personal adornment valued at $300 or more and passed free of duty under the personal customs exemption and cannot be sold within three years unless duty is paid. If duty is not paid before the sale is completed, the articles will become subject to seizure. A person entering in to the U.S. may enter with professional equipments free of duty if it was owned and used abroad. This includes professional books and tools of trade, occupation, or employment.
The Arrival Departure Record Form (I-94) is also distributed on the plane and must be completed prior to landing. The I-94 form should reflect the address where the student will reside, not the address of the school or program. On arrival at the airport, the airline personnel will show the inspection area. Passengers will queue up in an inspection line and then speak with an Immigration Inspector. Students should use the lanes marked for non-citizens.
The Immigration Inspector must determine the reason for coming to the U.S., verify the documents and check how long the non-immigrant should be allowed to initially stay in the U.S. These determinations are usually made within few minutes. If the passenger is allowed to proceed, the Inspector will stamp the passport and issue a completed I-94 form. A completed form will show the immigration classification and the last date of authorized stay in the U.S. The student will then be permitted to proceed to Customs.
The date on the I-94 is very important. Usually, this will be same date as the visa validity date, but the date on the I-94 supersedes the visa date on the visa. The visa holder is allowed to stay only for the period mentioned on the I-94. It is the students responsibility to check the date and make sure it is correct, any human errors can be corrected within minutes by the same immigration officer and it takes more time to get the correction after leaving the airport.
Students should keep the contact details of the university and address of accommodation handy. Sometimes students may need to land the nearest international airport rather than the airport closest to the university, because port of entry for international passengers is not available in all the airports. Students should be prepared to answer any questions like change of flights or the person who will be picking them up from the airport. Clear, simple, and correct answers will be enough. If a student is asked to go through a secondary inspection, he or she should not panic. The Immigration Inspector will verify documents and check about enrollment with the university. Due to very strict security checks, secondary inspections are very common.
In a secondary inspection, the Immigration Inspector will first attempt to verify the students status by using SEVIS. In the event that the Immigration Inspector needs to verify information with the students university, the student should have the necessary contact information available.
Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in being denied entry to the U.S. Under certain circumstances, the Immigration Inspector may issue a Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the U.S. If this happens, then the student must contact the International Student Office and submit the proper documentation without delay.
Transportation to the University
If the university did not arrange for pickup from the airport they might have guided the student with instruction to reach university by taxi cab. Students may contact the international student office and request for pick up if any one interested. If the distance between airport and the university is more than 50 miles students should consider taking alternate transportation instead of a taxi. Local trains or bus may be the better option. Taxis may also be used from local train or bus stations to reach the university. Fellow students help will the best option to reach the university.
Once the student reaches the university, he or she will need to check in at the designated location. For on-campus accommodations, students must contact the universitys Housing Office before arriving and have taken care of the necessary paperwork and payments. Students who choose to live off-campus are on their own for finding a place to live. As soon as students are settled, they should become acquainted with the university. They should have a schedule of their classes and find out where each building is so that they do not get lost. They also need to purchase their textbooks from the university bookstore.International Students
The first and the most important task is to visit the International Students Office. Student should take their passport, I-20, I-94, and university letter to register. The office will make a photocopy of the documents and return the originals to the student. These are very important documents and students should always keep them in a safe and secure place. Having copies of all the documents in different location is highly advisable. Whenever there is a change of address, students must inform the International Students Office as well as USCIS within 10 days.
It is important for students to visit the Admissions Office to verify that all of their paperwork is in order and that they are registered for classes. Students should register for classes prior to arriving at the university. Most universities allow students to register by computer over the internet.
University Identity Card
Students should get their University Identity card immediately. The card will have a photograph of the student and university ID number on it. The ID card is used for library accounts, meal plans, and attending university events.
It is important that the student should have proper health insurance. They will need to submit a medical history form and a physical examination for the records of the Student Health Center. Students can sign up for health insurance prior to arriving in the U.S. through F1study.com.
It is convenient to open a checking account, especially if the account holder wishes to make payments by check. Most of the student checking accounts have no monthly fee. Banks also provide Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards that allow the account holder to withdraw money at any time. All banks will accept the Travelers checks that students bring from their country. Student should be prepared to show a photo ID and the necessary documents that prove that they are a university student. Students should ask the bank about their monthly fees for services, and whether or not the bank can receive transactions from the bank in their home country.
A credit card is a convenient method of payment and saves the trouble of always carrying enough cash around or carrying the checkbook everywhere. International students sometimes have problems getting approved for a credit card since they lack a credit history and are not permanent residents of the U.S. Following is a list of tips for choosing and using credit cards:
Students in F-1 or J-1 status are responsible for learning, understanding, and complying with U.S. federal laws and regulations governing the F or J visa. Failure to do so will violate the students legal status in the U.S., resulting in serious consequences. The international student must take responsibility of the following items in order to maintain legal status:
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