Living & Working In USA
Living in USA is one of the dreams come true for many students. However, many of the social and behavioral aspects of everyday life vary greatly from country to country. Initially some people might find it difficult to understand and adjust to the American way of life. But gradually one can get adjusted.
As a student venturing into academics in the US, life will be considerably different from what it is in India. The monetary system, basic social and economic structure, fashion, food and the general life style will all seem unfamiliar at first. The adjustments required will be many. But once you are past these basic surface differences, you will discover that people everywhere are the same. A few things you may face when in the US:
American culture has been enriched by the values and belief systems of virtually every part of the world. For an international student’s growth, that diversity is very valuable. However, new challenges always accompany new experiences.
There are times when you may feel confused, unsure and uncomfortable. People with different values and new ways of doing things may seem strange to you. You may feel that everything has changed, including your immediate support system of family and friends.
Try to speak to the International Student Support staff, your professors about the same and try to make new acquaintances.
Because of the American value of independence, the Americans may seem a bit unapproachable. But the fact is they assume you are taking care of yourself unless you tell them differently. If you don’t ask for help, Americans will think you don’t need anything.
So remember—ask for help when you need it!
Your interaction with other people—your social life—is an integral part of your stay in the United States. To make the most of it, get ready to introduce yourself in a positive way to fellow students, professors, and other people both on and off-campus.
To provide a platform for the same and to introduce the new non-US crowd to campus life, orientation programs are held by schools. Many times, topics include immigration, academic advisors, computer and library resources, telephone services, public safety, medical services, banking and transportation options. Many schools designate a “Student Activities Center” (also called a Student Union) where you may learn of different activities and programs, such as student government, the newspaper staff, outdoors club, chorus, dance, and a number of athletic teams.
Explore the ones that suit you best!
- Safety Issues
- Employment During Studies
- Employment Post – Studies
Like most issues, safety in the United States is difficult to define because the country covers a large territory. While the US is generally a very safe place to live, it is still a good idea to educate yourself and take steps to reduce the potential for problems.
For example, familiarize yourself with well-lit paths and sidewalks on campus. The school’s security office may offer an escort service, where designated people walk with you from one place to another on campus, particularly at night. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Trust your instincts. If a situation appears scary to you, try to avoid it.
Always remember – be patient, try to meet as many people as possible, and with time you may form friendships while in the United States that could last a lifetime.
F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, though on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the next academic semester.
Off – Campus:
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
International students in valid F-1 immigration status, are permitted to work off-campus in Optional Practical Training (OPT) status, both during and after completion of their degree. You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and you have been enrolled for at least a year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for your OPT EAD, and your OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US. Employment must be “directly related” to the student’s major. Students who have engaged in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are not eligible for OPT.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
It is an off-campus employment option for F-1 students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, the work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must be awarded. CPT employment is usually paid for. However, prior authorization by your school’s International Student Office and notification to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
After completion of your degree, OPT work must be full time (40 hours/week). All OPT must be completed within 12 months after completion of your degree. Applications for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS before the completion of the degree.
To work for more than 12 months after studies, one must identify an employer who is willing to provide a work visa, typically an H1B, to permit them to maintain long-term employment.
The employer here sponsors the employment visa. Processing time for the visa takes three to four months and requires the employer to pay a sponsorship fee.Graduates can maintain this visa for up to three years with the option to renew for another three years.