The USA is the world’s number one choice of destination for international students, with over 10,00,000 students choosing to take up their undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the United States—and the numbers are growing every year. Today almost 5% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are foreign students.
There are many reasons that put the US on the top of the list for overseas education—among them being its strong economy, vibrant campus life and the variety, flexibility and quality academic options it offers. Degrees obtained in the US are the best in the world, and students are ensured of excellent career options, both in their home country and abroad, on completing their education here. They can round off their theoretical education with industry based training and research and stay on top of the latest technological advancements in the world.
While education in the US is expensive, students can take advantage of various merit based university assistance schemes, and can also apply for scholarships and fellowships awarded by departments. Many universities also offer research assistantships or teaching assistantships for postgraduate students, and they can get a tuition fee waiver for one or more semesters. There are also on-campus jobs available where minimum wages are paid.
International students studying in the USA on an F-1 status visa can work on campus up to 20 hours a week while school is in session, and can work full time during vacations / scheduled breaks. In order to get paid, you will need to have a Social Security Number (SSN). As soon as classes begin you can look for part time employment.
The F-1 entitles students to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) at the end of the study period, so that you can stay in the US for up to a year to apply the knowledge learned through work related to the major field of study.
If you have a degree from the government's designated list of STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects, you may be eligible to extend the OPT by an additional 17 months, which allows you to stay in the US for up to 29 months after graduation. During this period, you must try to gain a permanent job offer and sponsorship from an US employer, on obtaining which you can apply for the H1-B, a more long-term visa. You should apply for the 17 month extension when you are within 3 months of the end of the OPT period.
If your spouse has accompanied you on a dependent visa, he/she cannot work. If seeking employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.
In order to attain the dependent status, your spouse can apply for F2, J2 or H4 visa. Children who are above 21 years cannot be brought on an international visa.
You can also consider bringing your spouse on a temporary visa, such as a work visa or tourist visa. If they do not wish to stay for a long-term in the USA, they can apply for a visa in B status which guarantees a short-term stay and is also considered as a visitor’s visa. Your spouse can also apply for a work visa, such as L1 or H1-B in which case they need to find a job in the USA before migrating. Another option is if your spouse wishes to also undertake a course of study, then he/she can apply for an independent student visa.