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jujubea

Help with student visa questions

66 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, CavityQED said:

Kind of an old thread but I didn't know where else to post this. 

I'm graduating from my undergrad institution this year (Canadian in the US) and will be starting in a PhD program in the fall also in the US. However, I'd like to work in my undergrad lab for a month to 6 weeks after graduation. I was told that I could apply for OPT (but that would cost $410 and take up to 90 days to process--which is around the time I would want to leave). Has anyone been in this situation and have any suggestions for staying in the US and working legally, preferably paid but would consider unpaid?

OPT is the only option I know of that would work for you. You need to get started with the process as soon as possible if you want to be able to work in the summer. Note that it doesn't matter if you work for pay or not, it's considered work either way. You should also consult with the international students office at your school, if you haven't yet. 

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2 hours ago, CavityQED said:

Kind of an old thread but I didn't know where else to post this. 

I'm graduating from my undergrad institution this year (Canadian in the US) and will be starting in a PhD program in the fall also in the US. However, I'd like to work in my undergrad lab for a month to 6 weeks after graduation. I was told that I could apply for OPT (but that would cost $410 and take up to 90 days to process--which is around the time I would want to leave). Has anyone been in this situation and have any suggestions for staying in the US and working legally, preferably paid but would consider unpaid?

Once you finish your degree requirements, F-1 students have a 60 day grace period to leave the country, unless you apply for OPT to extend the time you want to stay. OPT really sounds like the thing you should be applying for (I agree with everything fuzzy said). Generally you apply for OPT well in advance of starting your work, i.e. typically undergrads apply for OPT in like January or February for post-degree work (as most schools will end in May/June). While you are in OPT processing, you generally should not leave the country. You should definitely consult with your international office ASAP (tomorrow!)

If you are going to finish your degree in May, then this might be really tricky to do. If your school year doesn't end until June then you might still be okay. You cannot start work until you receive your OPT authorization! Note that unpaid/volunteer work is still work---your F-1 status grants you permission to attend school/study in the US, not to work. But if you are finishing in like August or something, then you are probably okay for the timeline.

However, there may be ways for you to make it work out. For example, you might be able to do the work as part of an independent studies course. This might delay your graduation (so probably not ideal) but your school might have some sort of continuing student status for taking courses after your main degree program is finished. Maybe F-1 OPT is fast for Canadians (no experience with this myself). Your international student office would know best and they would be able to give you all the options, so please talk to them ASAP.

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Thanks for the advice! I thought I'd just update you all on an option I figured out with my international office in case anyone is in the same boat in the future. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work on TN status for NAFTA citizens so for any Canadians or Mexicans out there in the same boat this may be a cheaper and more flexible option.

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8 minutes ago, CavityQED said:

Thanks for the advice! I thought I'd just update you all on an option I figured out with my international office in case anyone is in the same boat in the future. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work on TN status for NAFTA citizens so for any Canadians or Mexicans out there in the same boat this may be a cheaper and more flexible option.

Great! Can't believe I forgot about the TN option. I'm glad it all worked out and thanks for coming back with an update that might help others :)

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Hello there!  I've been filling out the DS-160 form slowly and I feel like there are a number of questions that make it hard to know what the right answer is!

"Who is paying for your trip?"
a) self
b ) other person
c) other company/org

I am paying for my flight and start-up costs, but the university is covering my tuition and will be paying me a stipend.

Do you know which answer I should choose?

 

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On 4/14/2017 at 0:18 AM, melvina said:

Hello there!  I've been filling out the DS-160 form slowly and I feel like there are a number of questions that make it hard to know what the right answer is!

"Who is paying for your trip?"
a) self
b ) other person
c) other company/org

I am paying for my flight and start-up costs, but the university is covering my tuition and will be paying me a stipend.

Do you know which answer I should choose?

 

This question was actually discussed here:

 

 

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Hello Everyone.

I have a question regarding the F! visa. I am in the process of applying for a F1 visa. i already have a B1/B2 visit and plan to travel to the US in July this year with my family on vacation. My programme is starting on 30 August, however already have tickets to the US for 12 July which is more than the 30 day rule of the F1.  The question is can i  obtain a F1 visa in my country (Nigeria), travel on the B1/B2 visa and then change my status to the F1 while still in the US? Or will I have to exit to US to activate the F1 visa staus?

If I have to leave the US, will going somewhere near like Canada and then reentering the US work? or do I have to go back to my home country?

Appreciate the help!

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1 hour ago, funke said:

Hello Everyone.

I have a question regarding the F! visa. I am in the process of applying for a F1 visa. i already have a B1/B2 visit and plan to travel to the US in July this year with my family on vacation. My programme is starting on 30 August, however already have tickets to the US for 12 July which is more than the 30 day rule of the F1.  The question is can i  obtain a F1 visa in my country (Nigeria), travel on the B1/B2 visa and then change my status to the F1 while still in the US? Or will I have to exit to US to activate the F1 visa staus?

If I have to leave the US, will going somewhere near like Canada and then reentering the US work? or do I have to go back to my home country?

Appreciate the help!

The short answer is: yes, but it could create complications. There's a page from another University (not mine) that outlines this process: https://iss.washington.edu/procedures/change-status/b-1-b-2-to-f-1/

I would highly recommend you consult your new school's international student office and follow their suggestions. They would know best if people from your country will typically have trouble making the switch from B1/B2 to F1 while in the US and/or if traveling to a 3rd country (e.g. Canada or Mexico) and re-entering would be straightforward or not. 

After consulting your school's office, you will have to determine which choices and risks are acceptable to you:

1. Rebook your tickets to the US to arrive on August 1 or later. Note that for many airlines, even "non-refundable" tickets are still cancellable and you can still use the funds paid for that ticket for another ticket with the same airline, minus a cancellation fee (usually $200-$300). It sucks to lose this money, but it might still be less than the costs of the other two options. So I'd consider that. This would be the most straight-forward and surefire path.

2. Enter the US on July 12 as planned, then go to Canada or another country after August 1, and re-enter the US on F-1 status. Off the top of my head, the additional costs are the cost for the trip to Canada and the potential risk that the border agent will wonder why you are entering from Canada instead of your home country. However, it is fairly common for international students from faraway countries to apply for their second (or third or fourth...) F-1 visa from a US consulate in Canada or Mexico and then re-enter there instead of going all the way to their home country to get a new visa. My school's international office presents this as an option but also points out a risk: if your visa application is delayed, then you cannot re-enter the US and you are "stuck" in this other country. However, since you would already have the F-1 visa, then this risk may not apply to you.

** There's also option 2b, where you go to the US on July 12 as planned, then return home to your home country and then fly back to the US again within 30 days. This might make sense if there is some reason why you really wanted to be in the US on July 12 

3. Finally, you can also just stay in the US and apply for a change to F-1 from B-1/B-2. The main cost is the filing fee, of 370 USD, in order to make the change, according to https://www.uscis.gov/i-539. In addition, US Immigration isn't known to be very fast on their paperwork. So, even if you apply for the change the day that you are eligible, there is a risk that you won't get it approved before your program starts. If you are not approved, then you cannot start your program! So this could be very bad!!

Again, please talk to your school's international office and find out more information, in case my info here is wrong or outdated. But, given the high cost of option 3 and the risk of delay, I would personally not want to do that at all. Option 1 (just rebooking) makes the most sense unless you are going to lose a lot of money or you have another pressing reason to be in the US by July 12.

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Thank you very much TakeruK, Your response is very clear and helpful

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Posting here instead of starting a new thread - I'm filling out my DS-160 for my F-1 visa and there's a section that asks me to fill my university attendance dates. For my latest degree (an MA from the US), I'm confused as to whether I should write the dates I was there physically, or the date I received my MA degree. I was in the US from September 2013 to July 2015, but then came back to my home country and finished up my MA thesis from here, after which I officially received my degree in Feb 2016. In short - would my dates of attendance be Sept 2013-July 2015 or Sept 2013-Feb 2016? Any help would be appreciated, it's kind of urgent! Thank you!!

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Apologies if this has been asked before - I will be applying for a J-1 outside of my country of birth and I was told it might make it harder to get the visa accepted. Does anyone have experience with such situation? Thanks.

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Posted (edited)

On 5/15/2017 at 1:12 PM, cruzi89 said:

Apologies if this has been asked before - I will be applying for a J-1 outside of my country of birth and I was told it might make it harder to get the visa accepted. Does anyone have experience with such situation? Thanks.

Where did you hear this from?

I was actually in the opposite situation: ages ago I applied for a J-1 visa in by country of birth (and permanent residence) while I was also enrolled in a master's program in another country.  I had a paperwork mixup and was denied the visa, but upon denial, I was also informed that in addition to my paperwork mixup, I should have applied for the visa in my master's country because that is where I would be arriving upon return from the US (so it would be that country's embassy that would need to ascertain whether i had strong enough ties to leave the US after my J-1 program and return to complete my master's program).  I found this bizarre, but following that advice, I have been issued two US visas in two different countries after that original denial  (1. I was working abroad and applied at the closest embassy to my workplace.  2. I was living in my birth country and i applied to my visa at that embassy.).   

I think the main thing in your case is to answer the question WHY you are applying outside your country of birth.  Is it because you are currently legally studying/working in a different country?  If so, there is no reason for you to have to fly home in order to apply for a US visa (make sure to have proof that you are legally in that country with visa/contract/work permit/school records).  If you are outside your country of birth on holiday, then it's not a good idea to apply in that country for a US visa.

If your situation is not as clear cut, for ex., your permission to stay in your current country is expiring imminently, then it's probably a good idea to contact the embassy and ask for advice as to where you should be applying from.  It might make a difference where the majority of your nuclear family lives, so emphasise that point if they happen to be living in your current location (as those are "ties"). 

While my example shows that it is possible to be issued a visa even after being rejected, it is nerve-wracking to say the least to be denied a visa and you have to list it on EVERY SINGLE subsequent US visa application that you EVER make in your life, and it's definitely not worth it!  Not to mention that you can always be asked about it during your subsequent interviews which could make you more nervous which in turn could make you seem more suspicious, and honestly, it's really not worth it!  

The last three paragraphs are just my opinions based on my own experience and the perception of what i think that consular officers look for, so other people might have completely different experiences based on where they come from.  Anyway, feel free to PM me if you want to break it down further :)

 

Edited by melvina

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Urgent question! I am finishing my MA in the United States, flying back to my home country tomorrow. I was accepted into a PhD institution in the same state and will be coming back this fall. But in the process of packing I realized that I lost my current visa documents! I think they must have gotten mixed up with all of my junk in storage. I will be receiving documents for my new visa from the school this summer, but will I need the visa documents from my MA program too? And what steps can I take if I am unable to locate them? Please help!

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47 minutes ago, ginandtonic said:

Urgent question! I am finishing my MA in the United States, flying back to my home country tomorrow. I was accepted into a PhD institution in the same state and will be coming back this fall. But in the process of packing I realized that I lost my current visa documents! I think they must have gotten mixed up with all of my junk in storage. I will be receiving documents for my new visa from the school this summer, but will I need the visa documents from my MA program too? And what steps can I take if I am unable to locate them? Please help!

What do you mean by visa documents?

If it is the I-20 or DS-2019, just ask your MA school to print you another copy of them. 

If it is the visa itself, then I am not sure what to do. Ask your MA school's international office. Since the visa itself would likely be in your passport, I don't think this is the case or you would have even more issues, but I mention it here in case it's in your expired passport or something.

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1 hour ago, ginandtonic said:

Urgent question! I am finishing my MA in the United States, flying back to my home country tomorrow. I was accepted into a PhD institution in the same state and will be coming back this fall. But in the process of packing I realized that I lost my current visa documents! I think they must have gotten mixed up with all of my junk in storage. I will be receiving documents for my new visa from the school this summer, but will I need the visa documents from my MA program too? And what steps can I take if I am unable to locate them? Please help!

For what it's worth, I don't think anyone ever wanted to see my expired I-20 after I finished my degree, including when I got my new visa (of a different category, in case it matters). I had my actual visa in an old passport, and that too hasn't been something anyone has wanted to see. That said, it's best if you can contact your international students office and ask them if you need a new copy of the document. I personally think it's always best to have a copy for your records. If you've lost your passport/visa, on the other hand, report it (and also inform your ISO): 

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/lost-or-stolen-travel-documents.html

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Hi! I was wondering who students typically list as their "points of contact in their country of residence" in the F1 visa application. Can they list their neighbors/college friends, for example?

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