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Student Guide to the United States of America (USA)

Why Study In USA?

According to the latest report by the QS university rankings, USA has emerged as a leading country known for its quality education. The United States is the number one and largest destination for international students seeking higher education overseas. The education system in USA is the most versatile and flexible higher education system for international students in the world. Today about 30 percent of all current international students in the world are studying in the United States. Quality education, unique curriculum, multicultural environment, and abundant opportunities are just some of the reasons why many international students want to study in the US.

Have you ever wondered what makes U.S. higher education so popular in the world? Below are a few of the reasons why going to the US to study might be a really good decision.

1. Programs Available

The US boasts of some of the finest universities, a lot of which consistently rank in the world university rankings. American institutions are also known to have high academic standards, follow rigorous practices to maintain quality and are well-supported to be able to offer excellent education to its students. As per the QS World Ranking 2019. 33 of the top 100 universities are from the US.The universities and colleges offer a wide range of degrees and courses in all academic fields. At the undergraduate level, outstanding program options are available in conventional subjects as well as professional fields. At the Master’s and Ph.D. level, students regularly get the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the finest researchers in the world. Qualifications awarded by U.S. universities are recognized throughout the world for its academic brilliance.

2. Reach and Network Opportunities

In the U.S., at the graduate level, international students gain valuable experience in research and teaching through the many assistant ship programs available.

A student can assist a Professor by being a Teaching Assistant to them which also helps in funding their studies and also helps in the broadening of their knowledge and skill set. Students can assist professors with research on different projects and it also gives them an opportunity to work with the best in their chosen field of study. At American universities, the chances of you coming across well-known names in the industry are very high. From fellow students to teachers most are experts in their chosen fields. This helps then to not only network and connect with peers from various cultural backgrounds but also helps them to reach out and connect to a vast alumni network which will be crucial once they have hands-on field experience as it broadens the scope of the career path that the student chooses.

3. Cultural Diversity

The US is a melting pot of different cultures, races and ethnicities. Its diverse environment ensures that there is acceptance among all communities and there is no room for any sort of discrimination. You’ll be learning with students from different regions of the world thereby making it a rich and stimulating education experience. Growing in the midst of diversity will provide you with strong personality traits and skills that will be valuable in the international market. These days employers prefer students with a multi-cultural background, which you would get a great taste of in the US. A one of a kind international exposure, the US will help you explore variety of cuisines, customs, festivals and art too. Most universities have international student offices. Staff and faculty members ensure a better support and guidance to international students. In fact, the international student office helps students like you to get accustomed to a new kind of lifestyle – whether it is an academic query, cultural or social, the staff will be there to assist you round the clock.

4. Job & Salaries

The cost of attending business school is undeniably steep, with top management programs in the United States costing over $150k in tuition alone. But when it comes to masters salaries after graduation, the return on your investment is significant.

Doing a full-time master’s may be worth an additional $20,000 a year in the US jobs market immediately after graduation—and a master’s from a top school can get you six figures of total compensation.

According to GMAC, the median annual base starting salary US employers planned to offer new management masters hires in 2019 was $115,000, more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires. While many management graduates still work in consulting and finance as consultants and financial analysts, you can find MBAs working in any industry in today’s jobs market. From technology as data analysts and product managers to real estate and healthcare as marketing and logistics managers, salaries can vary significantly by industry. Ultimately, the actual compensation you secure will depend on variables such as your location, seniority, industry and work experience.

5. Education System in the USA

The cost of attending business school is undeniably steep, with top management programs in the United States costing over $150k tuition alone. But when it comes to masters salaries after graduation, the return on your investment is significant.

Doing a full-time master’s may be worth an additional $20,000 a year in the US jobs market immediately after graduation—and a master’s from a top school can get you six figures of total compensation.

According to GMAC, the median annual base starting salary US employers planned to offer new management masters hires in 2019 was $115,000, more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires. While many management graduates still work in consulting and finance as consultants and financial analysts, you can find MBAs working in any industry in today’s jobs market. From technology as data analysts and product managers to real estate and healthcare as marketing and logistics managers, salaries can vary significantly by industry. Ultimately, the actual compensation you secure will depend on variables such as your location, seniority, industry and work experience.

6. Types of Higher Education Institutes in the USA

The United States of America offer a wide variety of institutions for students at all levels.

Public universities: These are state-affiliated bodies run with the support of public taxes. All levels and degrees are available along with the widest variety of subjects. These universities are inexpensive for those living in the state. For overseas students, the tuition fees are higher. The popular names under this category are University of Texas, Pennsylvania State University, University of California, California State University.

Private Universities: These are not sponsored or supported by any Governmental organisation. The tuition fees for native and international students are at par, although the fees are higher. Some notable universities under this category are George Washington University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University etc.

Ivy League Schools (Universities): The eight universities in this group focus on undergraduate education of liberal arts, and also have associated professional and graduate schools under them. Admission is very competitive with steep tuition fees. Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Brown, Columbia ,Pennsylvania and Dartmouth are the universities in this group.

Small Liberal Arts Colleges: With a stress on undergraduate courses, these colleges offer humanities, sciences and social science courses. These bodies have smaller classes and focus on individual attention. They have extremely tough admission standards. Swarthmore, Manhattan, Amherst are some of the colleges under this category.

Technical Schools: These schools offer engineering, science and research programmes. Graduate level students with a strong background of science and maths attend these colleges. Some schools under this category are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California Polytechnic Institute, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Community Colleges: These colleges offer higher education, granting certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and lower level tertiary education. De Anza College and Bellevue Community College, among others, fall under this category.

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About USA

Student Guide to USA

The United States of America (USA)consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. A highly developed country, the United States is the world’s largest economy and accounts for approximately a quarter of global gross domestic product (GDP). By value, the United States is the world’s largest importer and the second-largest exporter of goods. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, it holds 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country. It is the foremost military power in the world, making up more than a third of global military spending, and is a leading political, cultural, and scientific force internationally.


Southwest – The Southwest has a hot desert climate and covers cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas. The average temperature in summers would be around 40°C to 25°C; in winters it would be around 18°C to 4°C.

Southeast – The southeast has a warm to a hot, humid climate and covers cities like Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Charleston. The average temperature in summers is around 35°C to 25°C; in winters it is around 10°C to 0°C.

Midwest – The Midwest, Northern Plains, Great Lakes, and New England regions have a humid climate and cover cities like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. The average temperature in summers is around 28°C to 15°C; in winters it is around 0°C to -9°C.

Atlantic Coast – The central plains and East Coast has a temperate humid climate and covers cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, and NYC. The average temperature in summers is around 30°C to 18°C; in winters it is around 4°C to -3°C.

Pacific Northwest – The Pacific Northwest has an oceanic climate and covers cities like Seattle, and Portland. The average temperature in summers is around 30°C to 18°C; in winters it is around 4°C to -3°C.


The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism, as well as a unifying belief in an “American creed” emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government. To mingle with the local crowd, you need to include more activities in your life if you really want to get to know and meet new people.

Day to Day Life

Americans love spending their time outdoors and prefer taking part in outdoor sports and games. Their lifestyles are more active and they prefer spending time meeting new people and trying out a new and different set of skills.

Social Activities

Every weekend people go for social events like music concerts and performances or maybe just going to a bar to watch a game. Weekends are for socializing and relaxing, so it is possible that your friends or classmates might invite you to a club. Sports play an important role in mingling with locals. Every region has a local team for professional sports like NFL or NBA or any other local sports that they support and weekend fan meets to watch the game is an important part of the American sub-urban experience.

How To Get Admission In USA Universities?

Student Guide to USA

Those looking for pursuing higher education from the USA should be aware of the appropriate application process for applying to the universities. USA does not have a central application system but instead each college needs a separate application. The general application process will remain the same for most universities, however, there are separate elements to each university application depending on the university, study program and level. The information can generally be found by visiting the college website and searching the relevant program pages.

Documents Required

The following documents also need to be submitted:

  • Attested copies of mark sheets of class X, XII, and the Undergraduate degree (for master’s program applicants)
  • At least, two academic reference letters from professors/ work managers who know you well and can comment on your professional abilities. (the number of reference letters and format depends on the university)
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Resume (1 or 2 page style depending on the university)
  • Essays (generally 2-3 with the application form depending on university)
  • Photocopied score reports and official reports of GMAT/ GRE/
  • Portfolio (in case of students applying for art and design courses & architecture programs)
  • Others (certificates/achievements at the state and national level and extracurricular activities)
  • Proof of funds

Essay: Most schools require the prospective applicants to submit 2 compulsory essays followed by a few optional ones. Common topics include career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, skills, experiences, and reasons for considering a particular school.

SOP: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your introduction to the college and admission officers. It is always written in the first person and describes the reason for applying to a particular college. It highlights why you are a perfect fit for the college and why the college should accept you.

LOR: A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a reference letter written by a third party describing the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the prospective student to recommend him to the college . The third party could be a professor, direct manager etc.

The specific documents vary between study programs and levels. Generally, International students will need to meet a minimum English language requirement. Along with that a minimum academic record of GPA between 2.8-3.3 . The student should have completed 18 years of age before joining a graduate degree program, however, post graduate programs have their own age criterion depending on the program type.


Universities in the US accept on-line applications for most programs. Visit the college website to know the program deadlines and to start the application process. Generally you are required to make an account on the website first and after an email verification is done you begin the application by filling up your basic information, submit a scanned version of your academic documents, submit the essays, LORs and SOPs and pay the application fee. You will the receive information on the application process and the stages via the same account or a notification to your registered e-mail. Most colleges have 3-4 rounds of applications with international students being asked to apply during round 1 or 2 so that they can complete visa and scholarship requirements at the earliest.

Typically most universities have three deadlines, from October to January. It is up to the convenience of the students, which deadline to aim for. Ideally, you should be done with your language and aptitude tests three months before the deadline. The last 3 months should be dedicated to filling out the application form properly.

It is essential to ensure that the ‘complete application process’ along with appearing for interviews and visa application procedure should be complete a month or two before the intake.

Application fee: All colleges require that you pay an application fee while applying. The fee amount will differ depending upon the college and course being applied to.

Steps: The common steps to apply for admission are as follows:

  • Search for colleges and courses
  • Contact schools and visit websites for information
  • Take the entrance exams like SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS
  • Write SOPs and ask for LORs
  • Complete the application form and submit it before the due date.
  • Appear for video interviews of the colleges that shortlisted you
  • If accepted, apply for a student visa and student loans

Intake Sessions

U.S Universities have two intakes for admission purposes, namely Fall and Spring semesters. Fall semester starts in late August and ends in late December or early January whereas the Spring semester begins in January and ends in early May. The major intake season for the top courses in the US in September, while the minor intake season is January, which is meant for a fairly small number of courses.

You should start your admission process at least six months before the application deadline. If you are looking to get admission into vocational courses, then some courses may have admissions open in January and perhaps even May or July

Exams Required For Admission In USA

General Exams


The Gradate Management Admission Test is a computer adaptive test intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA program. The GMAT score is valid for 5 years

Attempts : The GMAT may not be taken more than once within 16 days but no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period and no more than eight times total, even if the scores are canceled.

Fee: The cost of giving the GMAT Exam is US $250

Best time to start Preparing : Studying for the GMAT takes time. Plan to spend about two to three months and 100–120 hours reviewing material and practicing regularly. Ideally, applicants to the Fall intake must give the exam about 3 months prior to the initial deadline.

2. GRE

The Graduate Record Examinations is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States and Canada. The GRE is owned and administered by Educational Testing Service. As of the 2014–2015 admissions season, most business schools accept either a GMAT score or a GRE score for an application to an MBA program. Business schools also accept either score for their other (non-MBA) Masters and Ph.D. programs.

Attempts : You can take the GRE once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days).

Fee: The cost of giving the GRE Exam is the US $205

Best time to start Preparing : You ought to give yourself at least 2 and maximum 4 months to prepare for your GRE. Ideally, applicants to the Fall intake must give the exam about 3 months prior to the initial deadline.


The Law School Admission Test is a half-day standardized test administered seven times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. The Law School Admission Council administers the LSAT for prospective law school candidates.

Attempts : You will only be able to take the LSAT three times in a single testing year. Total of five times within the current and five past testing years. And seven times over a lifetime

Fee: The cost of giving the LSAT Exam is US $180

Best time to start Preparing : For most applicants, the best month to take the LSAT is June and still have a solid two months to prepare your applications before you can submit them in September.. You ought to give yourself atleast 2 and maximum 4 months to prepare for your LSAT’s

4. SAT

The SAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. The SAT takes three hours to finish, plus 50 minutes for the SAT with essay. Scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600, combining test results from two 200-to-800-point sections: Mathematics, and Critical Reading and Writing. Taking the SAT, is required for freshman entry to many colleges and universities in the United States.

Attempts : There are no restrictions set by the College Board, students can take the SAT exam as many times as they want.

Fee: The basic fee for SAT is $47.50. SAT with Essay costs $64.50. Students taking test outside the United States and its territories need to pay regional charges along with the SAT fee.

Best time to start Preparing : In general, we recommend starting your SAT prep early. About three months before your test should give you enough of a buffer to try a few study approaches and get comfortable with the test content.

Language Exams


The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

Attempts : There is no limit set by the conducting bodies of IELTS for taking the IELTS exam. You can take the IELTS test as many times as you want until you get your dream/target score.

Fee: The cost of giving the IELTS Exam is US $215 .

Best time to start Preparing : It is recommend that students spend at least 6-8 weeks preparing for the IELTS exam, focusing on basic grammar, reading speed, test strategies and writing skills. Hence, giving the exam at most 6-months before your intended application is suitable.


Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities. The test is accepted by many English-speaking academic and professional institutions.

Attempts : One can retake the exam any number of times. But you cannot attempt the exam within 12 days of the previous attempt.

Fee: The cost of giving the TOEFL Exam is US $180 .

Best time to start Preparing : Consider giving your TOEFL in by April-May. Giving the exam at most 6-months before your intended application is suitable.

3. PTE

Pearson Language Tests is a unit of the Pearson PLC group, dedicated to assessing and validating the English language usage of non-native English speakers.

Attempts : There is no limit by Pearson as to how many times a candidate can give the PTE Exam. Candidates can take the exam with a gap of 5 days.

Fee: The cost of giving the PTE Exam is US $160 .

Best time to start Preparing : Consider giving your PTE in by April-May. Giving the exam at most 6-months before your intended application is suitable.

Cost Of Living In USA

Student Guide to USA

Living costs in the US vary a lot because of the vast territory of the country. In general, living in urban areas (in or near a big city) is more expensive than living in smaller towns or suburban areas. The Cost of living can be broken down into – Daily expenses, Accomodation costs and Transportation Costs.

As a rule, locations in the Midwest region have lower living costs, while those in the East and North-East have the highest. On average, a student spends approximately $12,000–$15,000 per year.

  • Living costs can vary significantly depending on the following factors:
  • Accommodation on-campus or renting apartments outside the campus
  • Meal plans, personal grocery shopping or eating out
  • Travelling by public transport or by car
  • Amounts spent on entertainment
  • Personal spending habits
  • Having a part-time job or not

Daily Expenses

On top of your basic costs you also need to factor in the other expenses of every day life.

Food – grocery bills in the USA can come in at anywhere between $20 and $40 but obviously this will depend what you eat. Fresh produce is often more expensive, especially if you’re eating a lot of meat and vegetables that aren’t in season. Some common grocery costs include:

  • Eggs: $2.00 for 12
  • Rice: $1 per pound
  • Bread: $2.50 per loaf
  • Milk: $3.50 per gallon
  • Clothing – again, it depends where you shop but there are plenty of low cost options in America (TJ Maxx, Forever 21, Target, Wal-Mart) where you can buy jeans for around $40.

Accomodation Cost

The average apartment can start at 600 USD (one-bedroom apartments in more rural areas) and go up to 3,000 USD or more (1 bedroom apartment in Boston). Renting outside campus in America might be less expensive than living on campus – 450 USD/month for shared rooms. But take into account the distance to the university and the fact that you might need to commute daily.

The price may not include the utilities, so you should check the contract before signing it. Here are some of the most common prices you will see for different utilities:

  • Electricity: 50 – 100 USD/month, depending on the size of your apartment, and if your heating is electric, the overall price may go up to 150 USD/month
  • Heating: 50 – 100 USD/month
  • Internet: 45 – 50 USD/month
  • Phone subscription: 50 USD/month
  • Water, sewer, and trash — the landlord usually covers them, but if you have to pay, those will cost 50 – 75 USD/three months

Average room and board costs at universities with utilities included amount to:

  • 9,800 USD/academic year at public four-year colleges
  • 11,100 USD/academic year at private four-year colleges

Travel Cost

A monthly public transportation pass is between 45 and 100 USD (some universities have discounts for students, but not all). For instance, in Cincinnati, a metro fare card for students is 53 USD/semester. In Nashville, a monthly public transportation pass is 44 USD.

The biggest transportation expense will probably be flying from and to your home country. Be careful to add your airplane tickets to the overall budget, as this can have a great impact on your plans.

Try to factor in vacation trips to popular tourist destinations and weekend getaways in the US. Depending on your location and the destination, you can spend as much as 500 USD per trip.

Scholarships Available For US Universities

study guide to usa cost of living
It is essential to plan your entire U.S. education, including how to finance it, before you leave your home country. Some colleges, universities, and U.S. consulates require foreign students to provide certification of funding for the entire planned period of study. It’s no secret that the US is one of the most expensive nations in which to pursue higher education, US universities charge some of the highest tuition fees in the world, especially those prestigious colleges with strong global reputations. However, while tuition fees at top US universities can easily amount to $US40-50,000 per year (not including accommodation, health insurance and other costs), there are lots of scholarships and other types of financial aid on offer.

As an international student, you won’t be eligible for funding intended specifically for US nationals. However, as US universities prioritize internationalization, the number of international scholarships to study in the US has grown. To benefit from these opportunities, applicants have to make sure to send all the required documents by particular deadlines. In addition to this, the presentation of the application is also important because the applicant is judged by the image they project.

Documents Required

The documents usually needed for a scholarship application are usually the same as the application requirements for applying to the university programs. They are as follows:

  • Academic records and photocopies
  • A recent CV
  • A letter of intent, which acts as a cover page
  • Certificate of Language Proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS scores)
  • Letters of Reference (LOR)

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for a scholarship depends entirely on the scholarship; there is no general rule of thumb on whether you are eligible for a financial award. Some scholarships require students to have a certain TOEFL score; some ask that you are from a certain country; some ask for you to have a certain grade point average.

However for most master’s programs candidate with strong academics, good performance in standardized exams and extracurricular achievements would be eligible for scholarship awards and financial assistance.

You will need to do your own research to see if you are eligible for a scholarship. It can be confusing, but remember that college admissions officers and financial aid experts are there to help you find as much money as you qualify for.

Other Loan Options

Financing an education in the United States is difficult, even for a US student. For international students, paying for college in the US is even harder. Almost two-thirds of all students enrolled at private four-year US schools receive loans of some type. US students can receive loans guaranteed by the government (Stafford loans, among others), but these valuable loans are not usually available to international students.

There are two main types of student loans: federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are funded by the government whereas private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, or schools.

For most international students, they will turn to private loans since federal loans usually require permanent residency status to qualify. However, due to the sheer number of private loan options available, students can easily find affordable private loan options that will work best for their particular financial situation.

Eligibility requirements for private student loans include:

  • The borrower must be creditworthy or have a creditworthy cosigner. More than 90% of private student loans to undergraduate students and more than 75% of private student loans to graduate students are made with a creditworthy cosigner.
  • Creditworthiness can be measured using credit scores, annual income, debt-to-income ratios and employment history.
  • The minimum legal age of a private student loan borrower may depend on the state of residence. The age of majority is 21 in Indiana, Mississippi and New York, 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 18 in most other states.
  • The borrower and cosigner must satisfy citizenship requirements. All lenders require the cosigner to be a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Most lenders also require the student to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some lenders will allow an international student to qualify with a cosigner who is a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Most lenders require the borrower to be enrolled for at least a half-time basis. Some have special loan programs for continuing education students.
  • Eligibility also can depend on a degree, academic major or participating school.

Private student loans do not require the student to file the FAFSA.

​Interest Rates – Interest rates vary based on the lender you choose and your own financial background. By looking at an applicant’s education, income, career, and more, lenders may provide a lower interest rate by determining if the applicant is a responsible borrower despite their lack of credit history.

Repayment – Repayment will vary depending on the loan option you choose. Since most international students are not able to work while they study in the US, repayment must be considered as an extremely important feature in your loan. You will need to consider how much the monthly payments will be, when payments will begin, and how long you will be able to defer paying back the loan.

The repayment period generally ranges from 10-25 years, but the larger the loan, the longer the repayment period. The standard repayment plan options are:

Full Deferral – Students are able to defer payment until 6 months after graduation as long as the full-time status is maintained. Students can defer payments for a maximum of four years, which is the typical length of a degree.

Interest Only – International students only pay the interest while in school, up to four consecutive years, and can defer the principal until 45 days after graduation, or when the student drops their course load to part-time.

Immediate Repayment – Payments on both interest and principal are due immediately once the loan has been dispersed.

Visa Guide For USA

study guide to USA visa

As an international student coming to the United States, there are three different student visas that you could be issued: F1 Visa, J1 Visa or M1 Visa. The F1 and J1 visas allow for the possibility of employment in the US during your stay, while the M1 Visa does not. You need to be familiar with the types of visas, how they impact your financing while in the USA and how to go through the application and arrival processes.

Type Of US Visa

F1 Visa – Academic Studies

The “F” visa is for academic studies. An F1 visa is issued to students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program. F1 visas are by far the most common form of international student visa in the U.S. F1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. F1 status allows for part-time, on-campus employment (fewer than 20 hours per week). Additionally, students can work on optional practical training (OPT) for up to one year after completion of their academic program. Students are expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).

J1 Visa – Practical Training

A J1 visa is issued to students who need to obtain practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. J-1 student status allows for similar employment as the F1 visa, with similar restrictions, as long as permission is given by the exchange visitor program sponsor. For example, Fulbright scholars and many students on short-term study abroad programs from Indian universities will travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.

J1 visa is usually sought by working professional who goes to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever be the case, the applicants would be notified for the same by the respective institutions.

Spouses or children accompanying J-1 Visa recipients will travel on a J-2 Visa. Please note that spouses are able to work when permission is obtained in advance.

M1 Visa – Non-Academic /Vocational Studies

An M1 visa is issued to a student who is going to attend a non-academic or vocational school. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.

Documents Required

When putting together your application for a student visa, you will first need to research the admission policy for your university. If you want to attend a university or college in the US you will need a student visa called F1 visa. Keep the following items in mind:

    • Valid Passport – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US.
      Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
      Application fee payment receipt, as you are required to pay before your interview
    • Photo – The US consulate will upload your photo, and for the same purpose you will have to fix an appointment with the consulate. You will have to visit the Consulate center. A digital photograph of yours will be taken and along with that, all your fingerprints will be scanned. You’ll have to carry an approval receipt given by the consulate after successfully taking your photograph and finger scan.
    • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse, and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS).

Note: Additional documentation may be required. During the personal interview, additional documents may be requested by the interviewer. These may be documents to prove evidence of academic or financial status. These include:

  • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended
  • Scores from tests that your US school required, such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT
  • Your intent to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study
  • How you will pay all educational, living, and travel costs

How To Get US Visa

There are several steps to apply for a visa. These include

Complete the online Visa Application Form DS-160

After completing the online visa application, you will be required to pay the non-refundable visa application fee.  You are required to pay for it before your interview. It can be paid online or through a bank transaction as well.

  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Schedule a biometric appointment and Interview appointment.
  • For the Biometric appointment, you will be required to appear in person to get your photograph clicked for the visa and get your fingerprints scanned.
  • At the Personal interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your choice, of course, college, finances, and intent of coming back. If s/he is convinced, they will keep your passport with them to get the visa stamped.
  • F-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days before the starting date of your course of study. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on F-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Visa Validity

The F -1 student visa is valid for the duration of your studies. You may stay in the States as long as you are a student. After students have completed their degree in the U.S. they are allowed to stay in the country for an extra 60 days, whilst M-1 and J-1 students will have 30 days to prepare for departure or transfer to another school.

Work Visa

The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. Any professional level job that usually requires you to have a bachelors degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If you do not have a bachelors degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.  To apply, you must have an employee-employer relationship, work in a specific in-demand specialty occupation, and be paid above the prevailing wage for that job. .

 The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has a duration of up to 6 years. However, because of the lack of available visas employers frequently have to look at applying for other visa categories such as the L-1B for specialized workers, L-1A for managers and executives, E-2 Treaty Investor visa, E-1 Treaty Trader visa, E-3 for Australians etc.

Please note that individuals cannot apply directly for an H-1B visa. Instead the employer must petition for entry of the employee.

Post Study Options

Student Guide to USA


As an F-1 student you will be able to complete up to a year of temporary employment that is directly related to your major field of study. You will be allotted one year of OPT training per study level completed: i.e. at Bachelors level you will receive one year, and at Masters you will be allowed another. If you wish to remain in the US after you graduate you can apply for OPT after (post-completion) you’ve completed your studies. Only F-1 visa students are eligible for OPT.

While on OPT, students cannot pursue a new course of study, unless you are a Ph.D. student.

Duration – Students are allowed 12 months of OPT for all Bachelors and Masters degrees. Those pursuing STEM courses get an additional 24 months (making a total of 36 months) under STEM OPT extension.

A student is eligible for OPT if:

The student has been a full-time student for one academic year in an SEVP-certified:

  1. College
  2. University
  3. Conservatory
  4. Seminary
  • The student is not studying English as a Second Language.
  • The student’s proposed employment relates to the student’s major area of study.
  • The student has not used all optional practical training available at the current level of study.
  • The student has not been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Applying for OPT – The student needs to initiate the request for OPT by having their DSO (Designated School Official) recommend OPT. For this the DSO needs to:

  • Endorse Form I-20
  • Making appropriate notes in SEVIS.

After that, the student files Form I-765, which is the application for EAD (Employment Authorization Document). Once approved, the student is issued EAD. The student can start working once the EAD is issued.


Most US universities have a cell called a Career Services Center, which helps you get jobs and helps you prepare for interviews.  The on-campus recruitment is always driven by student interest. Attend career fairs and talk to recruiters, build relationships and follow up with them for potential interviews. You can also do your own research – start making a list of companies that interest you and find out if they are open to hiring international students – there are resources online that provide information on companies that have previously sponsored international workers, and are more likely to do so again.

On a concluding note, USA is one of the best countries to study in. There are some of the best  universities in the world in the country that will offer a plethora of opportunities to you, you must be wise and smart enough to grab them all. Apart from that the cultural diversity and ambiance the International Students Office makes it easier for an international student to complete their entire transition process. The inclusive VISA packages and equality in terms of opportunities makes things easier. If you have the right skill sets, rest assured that you will find a job. Above all, make sure that you enjoy your time in the country and make the best of all it has to offer. 







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