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Indian students and parents should ask these four visa questions before immigrating to the US.

Are you thinking of studying and then working in the USA? There are four crucial questions every Indian student and their parents need to consider about the visa process before planning to emigrate to the US.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Study Abroad

Thousands of Indian students travel to the United States yearly to pursue their educational goals. This often begins with the application for a student visa and, with luck, could lead to them staying in the US to work after graduation should they wish. For those contemplating such a significant life shift, many questions need answering. We highlight some of the most common queries posed by students and parents looking to emigrate to America.

What kind of visa do I need?

Students typically move to the USA on a student visa, such as an F-1 or M-1, depending on whether their degree is academic or vocational. Student visas are appealing as they are cost-effective and have a simple application process. However, student visas restrict working during the school year and after graduation.

The EB-5 visa is sometimes seen as a better option for Indian parents looking for a better future for their children. It is a more expensive option but does offer permanent residence after two years and the possibility of employment throughout their stay in America.

Do I want to work as well as study?

Students can work part-time on campus if hired by the university or by a commercial company that provides student services.

Students may get off-campus work experience linked to their field of study after their first year through either Current Practical Training (CPT) or pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Students with a Green Card under the EB-5 program have permanent residence allowing them to gain employment with any business on and off campus for as many hours as they want through the school year.

Do I want to stay and work in the USA after my bachelor's degree?

If the answer is yes, choose your visa option carefully. Some more popular student visas do not allow post-graduation work in the US. They may also require a long residency period before permanent residency can be applied for. If you plan on pursuing a job after graduation, apply for an employment-based green card that allows you to work while studying in the US.

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a benefit available to international students of F-1 immigration status who are enrolled in, or completing, a degree program in the United States. OPT allows students to stay in the United States for up to a year. Science, technology, engineering, or mathematics students are eligible for a two-year extension. Through a lottery system, STEM experts may have preferential consideration for H-1B visas.

H-1B visas are the most popular among Indians. The EB-5 Investor Visa, on the other hand, only makes students leave the country if they find work.

The H-1B visa is renewable for a maximum of six years, after which the employee must return to India or acquire another permit to stay.

Can students' families join them in the USA?

Parents and siblings cannot accompany you on student visas. An alternative option would be for families to apply for the EB-5 visa and make a $500,000 investment, allowing the applicant, their spouse, and any children under 21 to accompany them to the USA.

In conclusion, immigrating to the United States is exciting for many students and their families. Careful consideration of visa options should be taken before making any final decisions, as various visas are available with different restrictions and benefits. Aspiring immigrants can find the best pathway that suits their needs with sufficient research, planning, and preparation.

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