Showing posts with label study in usa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label study in usa. Show all posts

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Maintaining Legal Status

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:
  • University Attendance: The student must attend the university where they were authorized to go.
  • Valid Passport: The student must have a valid passport for the entire period of stay in U.S.
  • Change of Address: U.S. federal regulations require all F-1 and J-1 students to report a change of address within 10 days to their school and the USCIS.
  • University Transfer: If the student is transferring to another university, they should follow the proper transfer procedure and get approval from both the current and new universities.
  • Full-Time Student: U.S. federal regulations require the student to pursue a full course of study each semester until graduation. The number of credits may vary from university to university. Typically, 12 credits is full-time for undergraduates and 9 credits is full-time for graduates.
  • Employment: F-1 and J-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus during full-time study. These 20 hours include assistantship work. Students should not engage in any employment off campus without authorization from the university and the U.S. federal government.
  • Health Insurance: F-1 and J-1 students must have university-approved health and accident insurance for themselves and their dependents throughout their stay in the U.S. Students may choose from either the insurance coverage offered through the university, or insurance from a private insurance company.
  • Traveling Outside the U.S.: Students should check with the International Student Office prior to their travel outside the U.S. in order to stay updated about new procedures and documents.
  • Leaving the University: Students may leave the university early or unexpectedly due to a variety of reasons, such as early graduation, leave of absence, withdrawal, or termination. U.S. federal regulations require F-1 and J-1 students to inform the International Student Office and Scholar Services if they plan to leave the university before the expiration date of their I-20 or DS-2019 form with proper reason in writing.
  • Extension: Students who require an extension must apply for one before their I-20 or DS-2019 form expires. Requests for an extension may be submitted at any time up to thirty days prior to the expiration date on the form. Students will need to obtain the Academic Advisors Recommendation Form for Extension of Stay and re-certify their finances.
  • Course Completion: Students in F-1 status must depart the U.S. within 60 days of the I-20 ending date or their program end date, unless they have applied for optional practical training, or are transferring to a new school. Students in J-1 status must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or program end date, unless they have applied for academic training, or are transferring to a new J program. If a students application for a change of status is denied by the USCIS, then the student must leave immediately with no grace period.
  • I-94 Card: The I-94 is the white card that the student completes before passing immigration officials upon entrance into the U.S. This is the document that authorizes the student to be in the U.S. as a student for a specified period of time, in a specified program of study, at a specified institution. The dates on the I-94 supersede the visa date, so the student must verify the date before they leave the immigration counter at the port of entry. Two dates appear on the I-94: the date of entrance into the U.S. and the date of expiration. For F-1 and J-1 visa holders, the expiration date is usually D/S (duration of status), which implies the date of program completion. Like the passport, the I-94 must be valid at all times. The I-94 should be kept in the passport. It will be surrendered to airline officials when the student travels outside the U.S. and the student will get a new I-94 card upon re-entry into the U.S.
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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:

  • Ticket
  • Passport
  • Paperwork from the university
  • I-20 form
  • I-94 form
  • Evidence of financial resources
  • Original certificates and mark sheets
  • Medical records
  • Address and direction to the university.
  • University contact information
  • Travelers checks and U.S. dollars
  • Dress and casual clothes for all seasons: warm clothing for cold weather and light clothing for warm weather.
  • Business clothes: dark suits, button down shirts, and ties for men, and pants suits, skirts and blouses, or dresses for women.
  • Outerwear, such as coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.
  • Plenty of undergarments and socks.
  • Toiletries, such as soap, antiperspirant, shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.
  • Personal entertainment items, such as books or music.
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.

Immigration Inspections
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.
Student Life
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 Office
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.

Admissions Office
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.
Health Insurance
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
Bank AccountsIt 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.
Credit Cards
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:
  • Look for cards with no annual fees.
  • Read the fine prints of terms and conditions for APR. Do not look for only 0% introductory offers. The lower the APR the lower the interest is.
  • Always pay your credit card payments in full.
  • Always pays the bill on time. Setup auto deduction from the Bank checking or savings account with minimum amount transfer. Late fees are very expensive and often more than the minimum monthly payment. Also late payment will reduce the credit scores significantly.
  • If the credit card was stolen, call the credit card company and inform them, so that they can stop the transaction for the credit card. File a police compliant with date time of the stolen items. Having the records in hand will help in many ways to avoid paying the bill by unauthorized transaction.
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Living Expenses in USA

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.
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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.
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The Top 10 Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to go to the U.S.? This is the most common question put to international students. Short explanations of the proposed education or research opportunities that are not available in the students home country will convince the visa officer.

  • Why this university? Specific academic advantages or possible research facilities should be a students primary reason for choosing the university. Students might have participated in research projects, so making notes about past experiences, or knowing a specific professor at the university will be advantageous to students going to the interview.

  • How did you find this university? Students can answer this question very easily. The Internet is the primary source for finding and doing more research on each and every university.

  • How many universities have you applied to? Most students try for three to five universities. Receiving a higher number of acceptances or rejections will not impact the decision about the students visa.

  • Who is your sponsor? Parents or family funds primarily support international students. Students are required to provide their sponsor details with sufficient proof of financial capabilities for the sponsors. Sometimes, education loans and companies provide the financial support.

  • What is your fathers occupation? If parents are the primary sponsors, many consulate officers try to find out the family background and their financial capabilities. Students are required to provide honest answers since the visa officers handle thousands of cases and are able to judge very easily whether or not a student is telling the truth.

  • Why this program? Students should give a brief summary of their past academic experience and future career goals.

  • How much is your or your sponsors annual income? This question is also designed to understand students financial situation.

  • What are your post-graduate goals? Students should state what they intend to do after they graduate.

  • What are the reasons to come back after your studies? Economic, family, and social ties are reasons for students to return to their home country after they graduate.
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Negative Points for Applications

  • The proposed education or training would not appear to be very useful in the home country.
  • The indented education is already available in the home country.
  • The student is not in very good academic standing.
  • The students intention is most likely to get a job and settle in the U.S.
  • The student is financially incapable of studying in the U.S.
  • The student has a poor presentation of documents.
  • Financial support for education is completely based on university funding.  itself.
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Positive Points for Applications

  • The students proposed education or training would be very useful in the home country.
  • The proposed education or research opportunities are not available in the home country.
  • The student is going for a highly valuable research-oriented education, such as drug discovery, or next generation technology.
  • The student will learn international or U.S. business skills.
  • The student will bring cultural or ethnic values and experiences to the U.S.
  • The student has well-planned career goals with definite objectives.
  • The student has chosen a university that will help him or her to attain those career goals.
  • The student gives a good presentation of documents.
  • The student gives simple, straight-forward, clear, and concise answers to the visa officers questions
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Getting a USA Visa Key Factors

  • Academic Performance: U.S. universities have high standards and expectations of international students. Therefore, having a good academic record increases a students chance of obtaining a visa.

  • Financial Capabilities: U.S. universities are more expensive than most of the countries in the world. The U.S. government needs assurances that the student will not drop out of school or take a job illegally. I-20 or DS-2019 forms will list the amount for tuition and other expenses. It is the students responsibility to provide solid evidence for any scholarships, grants, or loans that have been awarded. The student is also required to establish proof of his or her relationship with the sponsor, and to submit documentation of the sponsors active and passive incomes.

  • Strong Ties to Home Country: Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consulate officer that they are not. It is the students responsibility to justify the visa application and provide convincing evidence that his or her intention is only to study in the U.S. The law states that the student must demonstrate sufficient economic, family, and social ties to his or her home country to ensure that the stay in the U.S will be temporary.
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Visa Information

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 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.
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The Resume

The resume should provide a snapshot of the students life on approximately two pages. Students should verify the following in their resume:

  • Personal information, including name, address, telephone number, and email address
  • Academic history, including highest completed degree and relevant courses
  • Employment history, including job titles, responsibilities, and the start and end dates
  • Volunteer work
  • Professional memberships or affiliations
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Certifications
  • The names and contact information of at least three references
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Letters of Recommendation

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 letter is typed on official letterhead.
  • The letter should have the references signature.
  • The letter is enclosed in a sealed envelope.
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Statement of Purpose

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:

  • Who the student is as a person and why they stand out from others
  • Why the student is interested in a particular program
  • How the particular program will help the student achieve his or her long-term goals and ambitions
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Application Documentation

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
Application Document Checklist
University Application: Specify Application ID if applied online
Financial Support Form: Please use university form if available.
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.
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.
Bank Statement: An original copy of a recent bank statement should reflect the cash balance as required by the university.
Statement of Purpose: This should not be longer than two pages.
Standardized Test Scores: Scores must be sent to the universities through ETS.
TOEFL Test Scores: Scores must be sent to the universities through ETS.
Passport Copies: Copy the front and back of photo ID and signature pages.
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