Congratulations on your Graduation! Now that you have completed your undergraduate degree program in the USA, you now have many options and avenues that you can go down and each option has its own merits and demerits. Choosing the right option will involve a large amount of research and will come down to personal preference - but hopefully the information in our graduate study guide will help you, and point you in the right direction to choose the next step in your international education adventure.
For most students, the lure of visiting a grad school in the USA and obtain your masters or PhD can be too strong to resist. The USA has some of the very best graduate schools in the whole world, but attending them can be costly, hard to get a place to study and will involve a large amount of hard work.
Once you have completed your undergraduate education in the United States, it can be tough to determine what you want to do from there. One option that you might consider is to attend graduate school. The U.S. is well known for its wide choice of educational opportunities. Whether you want to apply to earn a master’s degree, a Ph.D., attend medical, business or law school, you will have any number of programs from which to choose.
Graduate school is a different atmosphere compared to your four-year undergraduate studies. The coursework is generally more difficult, and students may be much more competitive with each other.
Graduate school can be extremely expensive and you will need to consider whether it is the best option for you. If you have already accumulated debt while working toward your undergraduate degree, is it a viable option to incur more debt? Do you think that you will make enough money after you have completed your graduate work to pay off this debt? You will have to weigh up your options.
One of the most common misperceptions held by student applied to USA is that their school will fully or largely fund their education once they are admitted. In reality, financial aid from the school is extremely limited, and most is reserved for US students.
Fellowships and Assistantships
You might consider applying for fellowships or assistantships in order to help fund your grad school education. Fellowships are extremely rare, and are reserved for the most qualified candidates. Fellowships generally cover tuition and occasionally living expenses, but you do not get paid. Assistantships, on the other hand, require that you work for or assist a professor or department. You might help a professor with their research, teach a class, or tutor other students. Assistantships are much more commonly supplied than fellowships.
Fellowships and assistantships are both renewable, meaning you can receive aid for more than one year, as long as you maintain good grades.
Unlike fellowships and assistantships, scholarships are generally awarded for one year or one semester only. Like fellowships, they do not require any work on your part, but they are almost always used to cover tuition, and rarely living expenses. The amount of money varies by scholarship; some award large amounts, while other may be just $500.
Another options for financial aid is to apply for a loan. Loans for student applied to USA generally have very reasonable repayment terms, but you might need a co-signer who is a US citizen or permanent resident.
When applying to graduate school, a good way to start is to create a checklist. This will help you keep track of everything you’ve done, and everything you still have left to do, and make sure nothing gets left out or forgotten. It will also help to make sure the whole process seems manageable, and reduce the amount of stress you experience during the process.
The first thing to do is to conduct research on all of the schools you are considering. Any information you need, such as application deadlines, curriculum details, and information about professors, can generally be found on the school’s website. If you cannot find the answers you need online, you can email the program director with your questions.
Some US schools might require an interview as part of the application process. It is generally a good idea to schedule an interview with a school as soon as you decide to apply, even if you haven’t yet started your application. Contact the school to set up a time—but make sure you take time differences into account!
Think about questions the interviewer might ask, and make sure you have answers prepared. Typical questions include why you are interested in the school, and how much you know about the school in general. Although you should prepare your answers ahead of time, make sure you aren’t reading your prepared answers during the interview. Make a list of talking points and try to speak like you would during any everyday conversation. It is generally a good idea to start preparing at least a week before the actual interview.
When it is time to start working on the actual applications, make sure you are familiar with the school’s application deadline. You will also want to set your own personal deadlines so that you can finish your application as soon as possible. Setting your own deadlines will allow you to monitor the whole application process in a timely manner. For example, if the school’s deadline is December 15, set a deadline such as November 20, so you will be sure that you have all your materials prepared with plenty of time to spare.
Being ready early will ensure that you have time to polish all of your application materials, such as your essay and resume. Last-minute work is easily recognizable, and will not help you get into your dream school.
If you have decided that graduate school is not for you, or if you think you’d rather take some time off before returning to school, you might consider working in the US following your graduation. Visit our job search page to learn more about finding work after graduation.
Job Search in the US
ob-hunting for student applied to USA can be difficult, as employers may well be unaware about cultural differences and visa requirements. It is your job to provide this information to employers. The U.S. job market is probably vastly different from that of your home country, and you should do all you can to learn about it.
Before you begin job hunting, it is best to know your visa requirements and restrictions. All the information you need is posted on our visa options page, so take the time to understand all your options and how they affect your employment.
Difficulties Student applied to USA Face
Job hunting is always hard, but for student applied to USA , the process is even more difficult and frustrating. Oftentimes, employers are hesitant to hire student applied to USA . This can be for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include:
- Complexities and misunderstandings concerning visas
- Hiring student applied to USA can be costly and time-consuming
- Fear of new hires leaving after six months or a year
- Concern that the student might have poor English skills
- Complexities and misunderstandings concerning visas
Whether these perceptions are fair or not, the truth is that many employers will hire US students over student applied to USA . Don’t despair, though; there are companies in the US that hire students from abroad, and it is possible for you to find a great job in the US.
Job Hunting as an International Student
As an international student, job hunting will be a little more complicated for you than it might be for US students. Here are some tips to keep in mind through the process.
This is good advice for all job seekers, but it especially valid for student applied to USA . It is going to take you longer to find employment with a company that will sponsor employees who need work visas, so the sooner you start, the better!
Research Your Situation
You are going to need to know the rules and regulations of your specific situation. Make sure you know which visas you need, including the different possibilities, deadlines, and potential costs. The more familiar you are with these things, the more confident you will feel when applying for jobs.
Take Advantage of Your School's Resources
Your school is sure to offer career services, and they are likely to have a good deal of experience helping student applied to USA to find jobs in the US following graduation. Take advantage of that experience, and set up a meeting with a career coach to discuss your specific situation and goals. You will also want to attend career fairs and talk to the recruiters, build relationships. And follow up with them for potential interviews.
Around 70% of jobs are found through solid connections. Take advantage of your school’s community; talk to alumni groups who have gone through the same process you are. Build up relationships with your professors and even parents of your American friends.
Stay Positive and Be Persistent
Job hunting can be exhausting and demoralizing. You might feel that you are working yourself to the bone, with no noticeable results. The important thing now is to not give up. A positive attitude and confidence in your abilities will show in everything that you do, and will make employers want to invest in you.
Golden Rules of Job Hunting
As with all job searches, there are a few golden rules you should always follow:
- Research the employer thoroughly, either via their website or calling their offices to get more information sent to you. Do searches on-line to see if you can find any articles or other information about the company. The more you research the company, the better chance you will have at an interview.
- Understand your personal qualities, such as your strengths and weaknesses. If you can make a list of these qualities, you will be able to draw on them in an interview
- Wherever possible, mail your resume to the company unless it specifically asks for you to submit it via e-mail. This shows that you have put in more effort, and it allows you to be more professional and creative in terms of presentation.
- Always follow up with companies when you have sent in your resume for a job. After 1 or 2 weeks, call to make sure that they have received your resume.
- Before you go on an interview, always practice as much as possible. There are many good websites where you can practice mock questions.
- If no written job description is given, always ask for one, as well as a company prospectus or profile.
- At the interview, always wear a business suit, keep your general appearance neat and tidy, and remain confident with eye contact and strong, firm answers.
If you think that you want to stay and work in the United States after completing your undergraduate degree, make sure that you know your visa requirements and restrictions. Navigating the American immigration process is often stressful and confusing because there are as many visas as there are letters in the alphabet. The eligibility requirements and legal rulings are constantly changing, which does not make the process any easier.
Here are a few of the most common options applicable to graduates. For a full list of all non-immigrant and immigrant visas, visit VisasToUSA.com where you can view other types of visas that may be applicable to you. You will also be able to have your immigration questions answered for free via email by an immigration attorney.
- Practical Training on an F-1 Visa
- Non-Immigrant H3 Visa (Trainee)
- Non-Immigrant H-1B Visa Specialty Occupation
- Non-Immigrant R-1 Visa Religious Worker
- Non-Immigrant E1/E2 Visa
- Non-Immigrant L-1 Visa
- Non-Immigrant Obtaining a Green Card
- Employment Based Immigration
Practical Training on an F-1 Visa
An F-1 student is generally entitled up to one year of post-completion practical training. Authorization for this type of practical training may be granted for a maximum of 12 months and starts once you have graduated or completed your course of study.
Speak to the student applied to USA department of your university to get the necessary forms to apply. They will inform you of the different practical training options available to you. Find out about your practical training options when you start to study so you can adequately prepare for the future.
Non-Immigrant H-3 Visa (Trainee)
An H-3 trainee visa is suited to those individuals who do not have appropriate education or work experience. It is for those who would like to come to the U.S. to train in a particular field with the intention of transporting the knowledge and training back to their home country upon completion of their visa. The H-3 visa is valid for 2 years and cannot be extended or transferred to H-1B/L-1 status. To qualify for an H-3 visa, the applicant needs to secure training from a U.S. employer who has an established training program.
Non-Immigrant H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupation)
The minimum requirements for obtaining this classification are: (1) a U.S. employer to sponsor the applicant, (2) a U.S. Bachelors Degree or its equivalent, and (3) a correlation between the job duties and the applicant’s education and work experience. In addition to the above requirements, it is also necessary to obtain an approval of a labor condition attestation from the Department of Labor prior to filing the H-1B petition with the Immigration & Naturalization Service. A LCA is required to ensure that foreign workers are not exploited by U.S. employers and are paid the same salaries and obtain the same benefits as their American counterparts.
The H-1B is granted for an initial period of 3 years and can be extended for an additional 3 years, but cannot be extended beyond 6 years. Spouses and minor children automatically obtain H-4 visas, which entitle them to accompany the applicant to the U.S. and to attend school, but not work, in the U.S.
Non-Immigrant R-1 Visa (Religious Worker)
The R-1 religious worker category is designed for ministers, persons working in a professional capacity in a religious occupation, or persons working for a religious organization in a religious occupation. The applicant must demonstrate that he/she had been a member of the religious denomination for at least 2 years preceding the application. Initial admission is for 3 years with an extension of up to 2 years. The U.S. employer is required to demonstrate that it has tax exemption status.
Non-Immigrant E-1/E-2 Visa (Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor)
Certain countries have entered into treaties with the United States, which allows their nationals to obtain treaty trader/treaty Investor visas. A fundamental requirement for an E-1 visa is that at least 51% of the company’s trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country. An E-2 visa requires a "substantial investment" to be made into a new or existing enterprise. Managers, executives and other essential employees are eligible for these visas. The visa is usually granted for a 5-year period with 2-year increments upon each entry. It is possible to extend these visas as long as there is a need for the individual to direct and control the U.S. enterprise and the concern remains viable.
Non-Immigrant L-1 Visa (Intracompany Transfer)
The L-1 intracompany transferee visa is used for companies abroad who have offices in the U.S. and would like to transfer certain employees here on temporary employment assignments. This visa is designed for managers and executives (maximum admission: 7 years) or people possessing specialized knowledge (maximum admission: 5 years).
If the U.S. subsidiary is a newly established office, the applicant will only be admitted for an initial period of 1 year. It is possible to apply for extensions, which must be accompanied by documentation showing major business activity or future business activity and an increase in personnel. It is possible to apply for permanent residency through this category as a multinational executive/manager.
Non-Immigrant Obtaining a "Green Card"
A person granted permanent residency ("green card status") is permitted to reside and work in the U.S. Depending on their classification, an immigrant may be eligible to file for U.S. citizenship either three years or five years from date of acquiring permanent residency (providing they are not otherwise deemed ineligible).There are four main categories under which it is possible to acquire permanent residency status in the U.S. The easiest and quickest way is through a family relationship where the petitioner is either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The other categories involve employment sponsorship, diversity immigrants and refugees and asylees.
You might also take your chances with the Green Card Lottery.
The most common asked question from graduates is: “How do we get a green card through employment?”
To obtain an employment-based immigrant visa, there is usually a requirement that an applicant applies and obtains labor certification. This process, designed to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers exist for the position, is often difficult and can take several years to complete (depending on jurisdiction). It is therefore desirable to apply under an alternative category, which lacks this labor certification requirement. Most graduates will fall under:
First Preference: Priority Workers
This category includes the following: (a) persons of extraordinary ability in sciences, art, education, business or athletics; (b) outstanding professors and researchers, and (c) multinational executives and managers.
Under the extraordinary ability subcategory above, the applicant does not require a job offer and the application can be processed fairly expeditiously. Only those applicants who have reached the top of their field can apply under this category and must intend to continue to work in the particular area of extraordinary ability. In addition, the applicant must show that his or her entry will benefit the U.S.
Under the category of outstanding professors and researchers, the standards are more lenient. However, the applicant must have three years of teaching or research experience, as well as a job offer for a permanent position from an appropriate U.S. institution. No Labor Certification application is required for this category.
Multinational Executives and Managers
In order to qualify for permanent residence under this category, managers or executives of companies must have been employed for one of the three years preceding their transfer to the United States. Additionally, their employment at the overseas company must have been in an executive or managerial capacity. The U.S. sponsoring employer must also have been in existence for at least one year and the overseas company must be operating.
Note: If an applicant obtains an L-1B Intracompany visa (based on their specialized knowledge) labor certification will be necessary.
Second Preference: Advanced Degree Professions / Exceptional Ability
Members of the professions holding advanced degrees (e.g. masters degrees or bachelors degrees, plus five years of work experience) or aliens of Exceptional Ability. Although Labor Certification is usually required, it is possible to obtain a waiver, if it can be shown that the applicant’s employment will be in the "national interest".
Third Preference: Labour Certification
This category usually requires a Labour Certification except in certain cases. Three separate subcategories exist:
- Professionals (with a Bachelor’s Degree);
- Individuals performing a job requiring two years of education, experience or training;
- Other workers
Fourth Preference: Special Immigrants
This category is designed for "special immigrants" and is limited to 10,000 visas per year. Certain religious workers qualify under this category, which does not require Labor Certification.
Fifth Preference: Employment Creation - Investors
This category allows for two-year conditional residency for people who invest either $1 million (or $500,000 in underdeveloped areas or areas of high unemployment) in a new commercial enterprise that employs 10 U.S. citizens or permanent residents on a full-time basis and manages the business on a day-to-day basis. The applicant can either create an original business or the purchase of an existing business, which results in a new commercial enterprise, or the expansion of an existing business so that its net worth or employees increase by 40%.
The investment can be a combination of cash, equipment, inventory, but an unsecured promissory note is unacceptable. Multiple investors are acceptable, but each investor must independently meet the capital and employee requirements.
Many students will want to return home to their home country, and use what they have learnt in the USA to help better their own country. However, moving back from the USA after a 4 year degree can be quite a shock to some students, so our returning home section will provide with helpful hints and tips to ease your transition back home.
Before you left to study in the US, you probably had a lot of people warning you about the effects of culture, the feeling of adjusting to a new place when you arrive for the first time. What they might not have told you, however, is that culture shock can also affect student applied to USA upon their return home. This phenomenon is known as “reverse culture shock.”
Reverse culture shock generally consists of feeling out of place in your home country, or experiencing a sense of disorientation. Although everything around you is familiar, you feel different.
Common effects of reverse culture shock include:
- Extreme jet lag
- Surprise at what has or hasn’t changed
- Feeling misunderstood
- Homesickness for your US school
You might find traveling back to your own time zone even more disconcerting than moving out of it in the first place. You will probably need at least a week to adjust.
To deal with this feeling of extreme jet lag, sleep when you feel you need it, and try to keep active when you’re awake. You will probably find that your body’s internal clock will be slightly out of whack for a little while, but eventually you will get back in the swing of things.
Dealing With Change—Or Lack Thereof
A lot has changed for you during your time away—you’ve moved to an entirely new country, adjusted to a new culture, made friends, and earned a degree in a foreign country. It is natural to expect things at home to have changed just as much as you feel you have.
In reality, you will probably find that things have not changed quite as much as you expected them to. The sense that everything is exactly the same as when you left can be disconcerting, and can make returning home a rather underwhelming experience. The best way to counteract these feelings is to keep yourself busy, so you don’t find yourself with nothing to do and too much time on your hands.
People you were close to when you left—even those you kept in contact with during your time away—might be separated from you by the unique experiences you have each had in your absence. You might find yourself getting annoyed by having to answer the same questions over and over from different people. People will naturally be curious about your time away, so try to be patient and remember that not everyone you meet has been to the US, and most will be curious about your time away.
Because many people you know back home have not been to the US, don’t be surprised if they don’t necessarily understand your stories about college life. You might feel misunderstood by those around you, but this feeling will pass as long as you’re patient. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to keep in touch with your fellow student applied to USA and college friends, so you don’t feel entirely isolated.
In spite of enjoying being back at home, you might find yourself pining for your college life. This is perfectly normal, and usually a result of the “grass is greener syndrome.” Just as it is possible to dramatize the glory of returning home, it is also possible to over-romanticize your experience abroad. Remember that nothing is ever perfect, and your life would still not be flawless even if you were back at school in the US.
Dealing With Reverse Culture Shock
Fitting your new life into your old life can be frustrating; it’s easy to become frustrated with aspects of your home culture that no longer make sense to you. Try to keep things in perspective; remember that every country has its flaws and its strengths.
Returning home is wonderful in many ways; you can spend time with your family and friends, eat at your favorite restaurants, and sleep in your own bed. Try to focus on the good of returning home, rather than dwelling on the bad.
Things that might make your return easier include:
- Talking to others who have studied abroad
- Keeping in touch with the friends you made while abroad
- Being patient with yourselves and others
For a look at what it's like to return home after studying abroad, take a look at this international student's account of home to Germany after studying in the US.
Returning home after a long time away can be hard, but with time and patience you will readjust.