Well, it’s been 4 months since officially graduating and I finally have some time to catch my breath and write a new blog post. Finishing college is a big deal. After four years of school, it’s nice to finally be done, although, it does come with mixed feelings for everyone. For international students, this is especially true. Some people are super happy to be done because it means that it’s finally time to go home; a few other lucky people have already secured a job before graduation so they are just happy to be done studying; but many of us are just stumped. This was literally my case, so I thought I’d share a little about what it’s like.
PREPARE FOR AN INFORMATION OVERLOAD PORTION..NOW: I knew that I wanted to stay in the U.S. after graduation, at least for short while, because I had plans to go to grad school, but this whole F-1 visa, OPT and H1-B thing could seriously drive a person insane. If you’re an international student in the U.S., you should know what an F-1 visa is (psst..it’s your student visa, duh’). If you’ve worked off-campus while you were here, you probably know what a CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is, and it’s sort of like your “permit” to work off-campus while you’re still in school. It used to be pretty simple to get but they made some changes to the regulations last year, so now your college MUST REQUIRE your internship as part of your academic curriculum to be able to get your CPT. This just makes it more troublesome for us international students :(. When you’re done with school, you can apply for your OPT (Optional Practical Training) but you have to do it within 2 months of your graduation date, sorta. Your OPT will allow you to stay in the US for 90 unemployed days. If you already have a job, then your OPT is good for a year from it’s authorization date. And within this course of 1 year, your company needs to apply for the H1-B visa for you if they want you to stay long-term. What sucks is that these H1-B applications only open once a year in April and only stay open for like a week, and by that time, the number of applications they receive is well over the H1-B quota. If you’re a STEM major however, you get an OPT extension of up to 17 months, which is like YAY, but not for me :(. Anyway, this H1-B thing is also a pain because it’s like a lottery system, so you may or may not get it. That means, if you’re not a STEM major, you need to go byebye once your OPT is up.
OKAY INFORMATION-OVERLOAD END.
It took me some time to decide what to do. I really wanted to work for a bit and get some experience before going back to grad school, but because of all this havoc, it seemed unlikely that I’d be able to get a H1-B visa this year. And if I didn’t get it, I’d have to go back for a short period of time and come back to study 6 months or a year later. Because of this, I decided to apply to Grad School for this fall! Just looking for the right programs and schools took a crap load of time, and once that was down, I had to write what felt like a million essays for each school. AND this GMAT thing is a pain. You’d think basic English, Math and reasoning skills is pretty common, but after taking the exam the first time, I felt like I needed to go back to kindergarten >:(
ANYWAY~ I just thought that this would be a good update and also, a little info session on US International Student pains. I’m definitely no expert, but it’s just my experience with the system 🙂 Read a little more about the H1-B Visa here