How to transition from an H-1B Visa to a Green Card

If you are looking to transition your status within the U.S. from an H1B visa to a Green Card, you likely already know what the H-1B Visa is. If not, knowing the goal of the H-1B is an important part of the transition process. Here is a short description of the H-1B Visa.

The H-1B Visa is a popular work permit program for international students who have completed their higher education in the United States and plan to work within the country.

The program allows employers to hire international talent, as long as the applicants hold a university degree and have a well-defined skill area that an American employer can benefit from.

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work permit that allows foreign workers to temporarily work in the US. It also allows applicants to live in the US for up to 6 years, and reenter as often as they like while the H-1B is active.

Why is the H-1B so popular? Relative to the standard Permanent Resident Card application process, obtaining an H-1B is usually easier and faster. The Department of Labor also has rules for how foreign workers are paid. The rate of pay must be on par with what similarly qualified talent from the U.S. would make.

Transitioning from the H-1B to a Green Card

For many foreign workers in the U.S., there comes a time when transitioning to a more permanent Green Card becomes necessary. Fortunately, making the transition from an H-1B visa to a Green Card is relatively simple.

There are several steps that Permanent Resident Card applicants must follow for a successful H-1B visa to Green Card transition to take place. As long as each of the steps falls into place as needed, the Green Card will be granted and a permanent residence within the U.S. will become a reality.

Step 1 – Employer

An employer is essential for the H-1B to Permanent Resident Card process. It is not possible to get an employment-based Green Card without gaining sponsorship from an employer.

In many cases, the same employer that sponsored the H-1B visa can also provide sponsorship for a Green Card. There are cases, however, when employers do not meet the suitability requirements to become sponsors for foreign hires.

Additionally, the job/position/role requirements for H-1B and Green Card status differ. It is important to check whether your current position is acceptable for the Green Card requirements.

Step 2 – PERM Labor Certification

Once an employer has agreed to the Green Card sponsorship process, the PERM Labor Certification is the employer’s first step to get the ball rolling.

Through the PERM Labor Certification process Green Card applicants learn their future wage and position within their chosen company. The wage requirements for the Green Card are similar the H-1B’s wage requirements. Without making these determinations, the Green Card process cannot continue.

Step 3 – File Form I-140

After the PERM Labor Certification has been filed and approved, the employer should file Form I-140.

The I-140 does a few different things, but most importantly, it proves to the USCIS that an applicant’s employer can, indeed, provide the benefits specified in the PERM Labor Certification. AS part of the application process, an employer must show proof of financial stability.

When the I-140 has been submitted, there is a bit of a waiting game that begins. A priority date is given, and an applicant must wait until that date becomes active. Once the priority date becomes current, the applicant can file the final form – the I-485.

Step 4 – File Form I-485

Form I-485 is the final step in the process of getting a Permanent Resident Card and switching an applicant’s status from non-immigrant to immigrant. In fact, the I-485 is the ‘Green Card’ form. Once approved, permanent residence is granted.

 

H-1B to Green Card Timeline

The H-1B to Green Card timeline is straightforward and there is an average rate at which Permanent Resident Cards are granted through the process. As many applicants have differing circumstances, however, there are some variables that can either quicken or slow the process.

In general, applicants should expect their H-1B to Green Card application process to take up to 6 months under normal conditions. That timeline can extend well beyond the 6-month expected Green Card application process for several reasons.

Avoid Waiting to Begin the Green Card Process

It is wise not to wait too long before initiating the H-1B to Green Card application process. There are several reasons for getting the application started as soon as you can, but here are a few of the most common considerations that applicants are often faced with:

  • Potential issues with paperwork causing the Green Card application process to slow down.
  • Application audits can add a considerable amount of time to the application approval timeline. While audits are somewhat uncommon, they do occur, and it is wise to allow for these when deciding when to apply.
  • Applying too late. The process for transitioning from H-1B status to a Green Card can take up to 6 months. If an applicant’s H-1B has expired, the transition from the H-1B can no longer take place.
  • Mistakes on the government side. While it is not that common, many immigration lawyers point out that mistakes can happen on the .gov side. These types of mistakes can result in denials of applications. When an application is denied at no fault of the applicant or sponsoring employer, the applicant can file an appeal. An immigration lawyer can file the necessary documents.

 

Considerations When Filing for Permanent Residence

Making the switch from a temporary, non-immigrant visa to a permanent residence can be extremely exciting. Despite that excitement, always be sure to dot your ‘i’s and cross your ‘t’s when it comes to filling out paperwork and providing the required information.

The process of switching from an H-1B visa to a Permanent Resident Card is not difficult. However, missing any of the essential steps or filing information that is either partial or false can result in a denial of the application.

For that reason, always provide all information that is requested. Begin the application process for your Green Card as early as possible. Seek legal help if you believe that something is amiss.

 

Related Questions

How long does it take to get a Green Card from H-1B?

It can take up to 6 months to get a Green Card from an H-1B visa. The process can take up to a year if any issues arise during the approval process. It is a good idea to begin the H-1B to Green Card application process as soon as you have made the decision to remain in the United States.

Can an H-1B holder get a Green Card?

Yes. An H-1B holder can get a Green Card. The process to go from H-1B to a Green Card focuses on modifying an applicant’s immigration status. As long as the H-1B visa is valid, the holder of that visa may apply to change the status of immigration.

Best Credit Cards for International Students [and How to Get One]

For international students studying in the US, establishing a line of credit for the first time can be quite difficult. Any international student who has applied for student loans understands this fact well.Applying for credit cards often proves challenging as most financial institutions require a credit history as well as a Social Security Number as part of the application process. That means international students must solve two main problems: one of identity and another of credit worthiness.

Interstride has decided to make the process of choosing the best credit cards for international students a bit easier by providing a starter list of cards from which to begin the search.

Read on to learn how to access the United States credit system and see which cards might be the best for your needs. 

Credit Card Application Requirements

Whichever credit card you select, it is important to understand the standard application process. Credit card issuers (i.e. banks and other financial institutions) need to know who they are doing business with.

For that reason, applicants must show proof of their identity. For international students, that proof can come in many forms. Other common application requirements for credit cards are proof of address/residence, and proof of income.

International students can sometimes have difficulty satisfying application requirements due to their temporary nature of their status within the country.

Credit Card Application Options for International Students

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds for credit application challenges. Before looking at alternatives, however, be sure that the alternatives are needed.

Is An SSN Possible?

Depending on an international student’s status within the country, it is very possible that they can obtain a Social Security Number, also known as an SSN.

According to the IRS, most student and academic Visas allow for employment. Many nonimmigrant visas, including F-1, J-1, Q-1, M-1, or Q2, fall into this category. These Visa holders may apply for a regular SSN.

An ITIN Can Help

International students who fall outside of the above-mentioned categories can still apply for a credit card. However, they will need to apply to the IRS for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

An ITIN is essentially an SSN for international guests. The number of digits is the same and the number comes in the same format. To apply for an ITIN, international students need to apply at the IRS using Form W-7.

Best Credit Card Features for International Students

International students on the lookout for a new (or first) credit card in the US should pay attention to a couple of key factors. The best credit cards for international students offer perks and bonuses aimed at student needs.

Top credit card options also allow users to apply for a line of credit with or without a Social Security Number. Each card is quite different in what it expects from and offers to its cardholders. So, it is always wise to do a bit of homework before making a final decision.

Top Features for International Student Credit Cards:

  • No, or low annual fees
  • No international transaction fees
  • Low, or 0% initial purchase APR
  • Cashback programs
  • Travel rewards and miles
  • Lower rates for academic achievement!

Interstride’s Best International Student Credit Cards

Here are some of our favorite credit cards for international students in no particular order.

#1 – Petal

Petal Card provides international students with a fantastic starting point int he world of credit. Not only does Petal forgo the usual SSN and ITIN requirements, but the company also creates a ‘money score’ for new applicants to determine credit worthiness.

That means international students with no previous credit should have no difficulty in getting the Petal Card as long as they have income, and their expenses are low.

#2 – Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students is the perfect solution for many international students. This credit card offers a low APR, no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and much more.

To get this card, students do not need an SSN and there is no credit needed to apply. Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students makes application decisions based on school, income, expenditures, etc.

 #3 – Discover it® Student Card

Discover it Student Card is another fantastic option for international students. While only international students with an SSN may apply for this card, it is one of the better ones on the list.

Some of the notable features of this card are no annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, a cashback bonus for good grades, and a solid cashback rewards program which gets better with time.

#4 – Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Journey Student rewards from Capital One is yet another good choice for international students. Journey offers a solid cashback program on spending, a $60 streaming bonus for on-time payments, no foreign transaction fees, and accurate credit tracking through the available app.

To apply, students must use an SSN or an ITIN.

#5 – Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card

As with the other options on this list, the Chase Freedom Student Credit Card is built with students in mind. International students can apply using an ITIN and there are many benefits that come from this offer from Chase.

An initial $50 bonus starts things off. Good Standing Rewards, credit line increases, and no annual fees adds to the reasons international students might be interested in the Chase Freedom Student card.

Final Thoughts

Whether in the US for a long time, or just a year or two, there is no question that a credit card can make a world of difference. Students are able to order their materials online, shop for food, pay bills, and support themselves in a world that is increasingly dependent on digital payments and credit.

Choosing the right card can help in many ways, just as choosing one that doesn’t compliment student needs can hinder a student’s financial progress and success. New credit card users especially should take care that their credit cards add value to their lives.

Best Student Loans for International Students

The decision to study in the United States can be a difficult one. There are so many things to take into consideration to successfully make the move to the US and succeed at school.

Figuring out how to pay for university is one of the many puzzles to solve but getting an international student loan might be easier than you think.

Can I get a student loan as an international student?

Yes, you can get an international loan as an international student.  You have several options to apply for an international education loan. Many of the available options are based on visa status and the desired school.

 

How can I get a loan to study in the US?

The process that goes into getting a student loan as an international student can look different from person to person. However, the biggest differences usually come down to whether a borrower in an eligible noncitizen.

Eligible noncitizen options

Depending on your status within the United States, you may qualify for student loans as an eligible noncitizen. Eligible noncitizens can apply for the same types of student loans that local students access.

These student loans include both private and government loans. For private loans, lenders should be contacted directly as many have unique rates and qualification requirements. Eligible noncitizens applying for federal student aid should open an account at FAFSA and follow the steps provided.

Examples of eligible noncitizens are:

  • Green Card holders
  • refugees and asylum seekers

Other noncitizen options

Many international students do not fall into the eligible noncitizen category. Fortunately, there are many other options for education loans for international students.

Foreign applicants not in the eligible noncitizen category should look at their private student loan options. There are many lenders who will provide a loan to cover education expenses for foreign students as they study in the US.

Each lender offers different rates and repayment terms. The various private student loan providers also lack a universal standard for how they accept applicants. Most lenders, for example, require a cosigner while others do not.

With a Cosigner

International students applying for a personal student loan with a cosigner option will have the “pick of the litter” when it comes to which lender suits their needs the best. As long as the cosigner has a credit rating above 640, the loan should have a reasonable interest rate and repayment term.

Without a Cosigner

Education loans offered without the need for a cosigner are few and far between. However, they do exist, and we have a couple of favorites to introduce you to.

Supported Schools

An important part of applying for education loans is to make sure that the loan that you are applying to is applicable for the school that you wish to attend. Many loan programs will have a ‘covered schools’ list and it is always good to check it before committing time to the application process.

Interstride’s International Student Loan Picks

As there are many options for foreign students looking to finance their education, we have decided to provide a list of some of our favorites.

#1 – MPower Financing

MPower Financing is one of the few lenders that do not require a cosigner. In fact, the lender doesn’t require collateral, or a credit history in the United States, either. MPower supports more than 350 schools in North America and offers a full scholarship program as well. The student-focused lending approach makes this lender quite popular.

#2 – Ascent

Ascent Funding is another top choice for international students looking for student loan options. Ascent works with MPower to provide loans with and without cosigner requirements. The lender also offers loan options that are either based on credit history or ‘future potential’ which is the model used by MPower Financing. In addition to student loans for eligible schools, Ascent also offers loans for training programs and career development education.

#3 – Prodigy Finance

Prodigy Finance is another top-rated lending firm for international students. Prodigy Finance focuses on graduate studies and provides loans based on a ‘future potential’ model similar to MPower and Ascent. In Prodigy’s case, however, the predictive credit model used to determine credit worthiness is a bit more complex. Students do not need a cosigner or a credit history in the US to apply for a loan from Prodigy Finance.

#4 – Discover

Many consider Discover as one of the better choices for international student credit card providers. As a lender, Discover offers international students with many choices depending on the type of study they are planning. Discover offers student loans specific to undergraduate and graduate studies, as well as degrees in business, health, law, and much more. To take advantage of Discover’s student loans, a cosigner or Green Card is needed.

Related Questions

How do international student loans work?

International student loans work the same way traditional student loans do. The borrower goes through an application process that determines eligibility, credit worthiness, and many other factors. International students can apply for a student loan with or without a cosigner, and loans are available through private and government lending programs.

Can international students get student loans without a cosigner?

The short answer is, yes. Foreign students can get student loans without a cosigner. There are some private lenders who will verify a student’s eligibility based on their own set of rules. If an applicant passes the application process, a loan is granted. Getting student loans without a cosigner through both FAFSA and private lenders is also possible for international students with a Green Card.

Taxes for International Students

If you are an international student studying in the US, or you are considering becoming one, it is helpful to know how tax laws work for foreign students in the United States.

For a full list of rules and requirements regarding US tax laws affecting international students, further reading on the IRS website can be found, here. However, we’ll summarize the main points for you here to save you some time.

Tax Requirements for International Students

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines international students as both nonresident aliens and resident aliens.

Depending on your visa type, you may fall into either category at the time of filing your taxes. The IRS outlines a separate set of rules for resident and nonresident aliens. However, the IRS also views international students through a different lens than other types of nonresident aliens. Therefore, some unique conditions apply to international students.

As such, to understand which income sources to report, as well as what can be deducted, you must first be sure about your tax filing and visa status.

Income Reporting Requirements

One of the first things international students should know about reporting requirements is that all international students and scholars should file. Even if they have made very little US-sourced income.

International students should file and pay their taxes if:

  • they have received a grant or scholarship that is considered taxable,
  • or if they received any income from work or any other source.

An important note about capital gains tax for international students:

International students in the United States for longer than one year should file and pay taxes if they have made money in the stock market, or by selling any other physical property (such as a boat, house, or car). The IRS enforces a 30% capital gains tax.

Many international students do not have to file taxes if:

  • their income is from another country,
  • they earn interest from a bank or investment account,
  • or if they received a grant or scholarship that is tax free.

It is important to note that there is no minimum income trigger that the IRS uses for international students. That means all earning count towards the filing requirement, even those that are very small.

Treaties and Special Circumstances

Apart from the general set of rules outlined by the IRS for how international students should be taxed, there are also many treaties and special circumstances that can be considered.

Most notably, the United States maintains several treaties with countries around the world. Each of those treaties outlines separate set of rules for taxation of nationals of those countries.

It is always a clever idea to check the list of treaties before seeking tax advice. Most sources of information that you will find will give generalized information that may not pertain to your situation.

Start with page 19 of the Treaties document from the IRS and look for ‘Students and Apprentices’.

Specific Taxation Rules Depending on Visa Type

Depending on your field of study, level of education, and time spent in the United States, you may have one of several student visa types that exist.

The three most common student visas are F1, J1, and M1, though many students also have H-1B visas and Green Cards. Tax rules for each are different and knowing the differences can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.

Here are some general rules for each of the listed visa types:

  • F-1 – This visa is meant for academic studies. Most international students have an F-1 Visa, and these students are allowed to do limited, part-time work. The visa is a nonimmigrant visa and the applicable tax rules apply.
  • J-1 – This visa is meant to provide international students with an opportunity to complete paid training in their field of study. It is a nonimmigrant visa and shares tax rules with F-1 status visas.
  • M-1 – This visa type is for international nonimmigrants who wish to attend training programs or vocational schools in the US. M-1 holders are not allowed to work in the US, and therefore do not pay taxes.
  • H-1B & Green Card – International students with immigrant visas, whether they hold an H-1B Visa, a Green Card, or are transitioning from an H-1B to a Green Card, must follow the same tax rules as US citizens. Students with these types of visas include but are not limited to graduate students and professionals continuing their education. Resident aliens must report all earned income.

Final Thoughts

The US tax system is certainly complex, but it does not have to be difficult to understand. The first step is to learn how international students with your particular visa type are taxed. Then, check to see if you are exempt from any of the rules associated with that visa type by checking the treaties document on the IRS website.  Once you are sure about your tax situation, it is time to decide how you would like to file your taxes.

Related Questions

When should I file my taxes in the US as an international student?  

International students should file taxes before the annual tax deadline. Usually, students should send their tax returns by May 17th. Sometimes, there are extensions that can push the date back.

Can international students file their taxes for free? 

Yes. International students can file their taxes for free. There are a number of resources available. International students can download and fill forms directly from the IRS website, or use a tax preparation service that offers free services.

Do international students need a Social Security Number to file taxes?

International students must have their Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when filing taxes.

How to get a driver’s license as an international student

Learning the driver’s license process for international students in the United States can open up a lot of new opportunities. Driving saves time and energy, and it can improve prospects for social life, travel, and many other important aspects of life.

International students who want to drive in the United States will need to apply for a driver’s license from the state that they reside in.

The driver’s license application process for international students is slightly different from state to state. However, there are many things that are common among them, and you should understand the process in your state before applying for a driver’s license.

Understanding the US Driver’s License Process

For international students applying for a driver’s license will follow the same basic steps. While there are differences from state to state, many of the requirements for international students are from federal regulations.

Therefore, foreign students applying for a driver’s license anywhere in the United States will likely need to know the following:

International students should always check with their Designated School Official to gather local driving license information.

Students should also make sure that their information has been uploaded to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

It is also important to wait for approximately two weeks before applying for a license. The I-94 immigration information that students provide when coming into the country needs time to become visible in DMV systems.

Finally, foreign nationals in the United States on extended visas (i.e. international students) will need to apply for with a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Once the preliminary steps have been taken care of, it is time to call the local DMV. Make a list of all the required documents when you call. If you have all of the requested documents, it is a good time to schedule your driver’s license tests.

Unless the DMV in your state recognizes foreign driver’s licenses and offers to transfer your current foreign license to a state document, it will be necessary to schedule a driving and written test.

 

Paperwork

There are several pieces of documentation that need to be submitted, including ID documentation, immigration forms, and sometimes proof of address. These requirements vary from state to state but most will require the following.

Form I-94

Form I-94 is a form that comes from the U.S. Customs office and shows a record of your travel history, including arrival and departure dates. The DMV will need to see this information because driver’s license approvals often depend on how long a foreign applicant will remain in the United States.

Form I-94 is available here.

Form I-20

Another important document that you will need to show is Form I-20. Form I-20 shows your eligibility for a driver’s license based on your status as a ‘nonimmigrant student’.

More information about Form I-20 and what you can use it for can be found here.

Social Security Number (SSN)

Another document that you will need to bring in most cases is your Social Security Number (SSN). Your social security number is not needed by DMVs in every state, however.

For more information, the Social Security Administration website can be found here.

Proof of Residence

As part of the driver’s license process, DMV offices also need to see that you are a resident of the state in which you are applying for the driver’s license. It is not allowed to carry driver’s licenses from multiple states and this is a requirement for all driver’s license applicants.

Accepted documents to show for proof of residence may include:

  • bank records and statement
  • official mail addressed to you at local address
  • rental/lease agreements
  • mortgage bill
  • school documentation
  • insurance documentation

Passport and Visa Information

Finally, you will need to provide your passport and copies of your current student visa as proof of ID. Simply providing your passport is usually sufficient to fulfill this requirement as the DMV officer will make any necessary photocopies at the DMV office.

Driving and Written Test Requirements

If the DMV determines that it will not accept the foreign driver’s license as an equivalent, a driving and written test will be required. These tests can usually be scheduled on the same day, but not always.

The written portion of the evaluation will test your working knowledge of the local driving laws, signs, and procedures relating to accidents and other emergency situations.

The driving test will help the DMV determine your readiness for driving on US roads and usually involves taking a short drive with an instructor, following directions as you drive.

Once complete, the driver’s license process has come to an end and the DMV will provide an answer quite quickly in most cases.

Regional Differences

Before applying for a driver’s license in any state, it is important to contact the local DMV office nearest you to learn what requirements exist for international students.

While most states follow similar rules and regulations regarding international driving licenses, there can be significant differences as well.

Final Thoughts

Driving in the U.S. can certainly bring a lot of positive elements into your life as an international student. Driving in the United States may seem daunting at first. However, the process for getting a driver’s license is easier than you might think. Just be sure to collect the necessary paperwork and research the driving rules in your state and you’ll be behind the wheel in no time.

Related Questions

How long should international students wait before applying for a US driver’s license? 

It is best for international students to wait for at least 10-14 days from arrival before applying for a driver’s license from their state. It can take up to 10 working days for immigration systems to update international student information.

Is there an international driver’s license for foreign students?

In most US states, students cannot drive legally with an international driving license or an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Students should apply for a state driver’s license and follow the processes outlined by local DMV offices.

Health Insurance for International Students

Students often wonder if they are getting a good deal on the insurance package that they choose. The complex language used on forms related to health insurance for international students can often be a bit confusing.

Thankfully, universities often work with specific health insurance companies to help curb the difficulties that come with selecting a health plan in another country. These firms have access to tailor-made plans that are built with student needs in mind. There are times, however, when students need to find a health insurance policy on their own. In either case, knowing what to consider before making a final choice can be helpful.

Read on to learn how to choose the best health insurance for international students.

Factors Affecting Health Insurance for International Students

Finding the perfect health insurance means striking a balance between several factors. It can be a little tricky at first to find a health insurance policy that checks all of the necessary boxes. However, it is not as complicated as it seems at first. By taking some key elements into consideration while searching, it is possible to narrow the choices down considerably.

Visa

The type of visa that an international student has is a key factor. Some U.S. visas have a health insurance requirement and others do not. F-1 visa holders, for example, are not required by the U.S. government to maintain health insurance. In contrast, J-1 holders must have an active healthcare plan while living in the United States.

H-1B visa holders also have to get a health insurance plan. Health insurance may come from an employer or be supplied by the visa holder, but it is important to note the length of time that it takes to be considered a long-term visitor. H-1B holders are considered short-term visitors until they reach the 6-month mark, at which point they become eligible for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. During the preliminary phase of the H-1B, a private health insurance plan is needed.

Transitions

Another common consideration is how health insurance requirements change when making transitions in life.

If you are a current student looking to apply for an H-1B visa or Green Card, you may need to change your policy from the one provided by your school.

It is also possible that F-1 visa holders who wish to stay and work in the US after graduation will apply for Optional Practical Training, also known as OPT. If granted permission to stay in the US and work, obtaining health insurance will be a necessary step in that process.

There are many types of transitions that international student may go through. Making sure that health insurance issues don’t crop up can be helpful.

School

Many schools will require international students to have health insurance regardless of visa type. In fact, most universities expect their international student body to have some form of health insurance. Some schools are very specific in what they require, as well as deciding on which insurance companies and policies their students must adhere to. Others allow their foreign students to

Checking with student advisors before looking for health insurance independently is crucial. All international students should be aware of the rules that affect their health insurance situation. If maintaining insurance means keeping a scholarship, a student visa, or a place in an educational institution, then understanding how it works is an essential part of life as a student.

Cost and Coverage

Not all health insurance policies are the same. So, figuring out the cost and coverage is the next step. Health insurance companies usually offer several tiers of coverage to international students. Each tier provides additional features and coverage. With greater coverage comes an additional cost, however. So, it is always wise to carefully consider what the insurance policy can offer and what your needs are.

Examples of additional features to expect include travel insurance, passport insurance, lower copays, greater options for doctors and medical centers, eye checkups and glasses, dentistry, and more.

Limitations

While comparing plans, checking for service limitations should also be on the to-do list. Health insurance plans in the U.S. always have a few limitations so making sure that an insurance plan that you are interested in isn’t lacking in a specific area of need is a good idea.

Some questions to ask include:

    • Can I use my international student health insurance in my home country when I visit home?
    • Is maternity covered?
    • How much will I pay when I go to the doctor or hospital (deductible)?
    • What happens if I get into a car accident?

Health Insurance for International Students

Below are some of the best health insurance plans for international students. Each one of the health insurance companies listed below ranks highly in quality of service, good coverage, and fair policy rates. In addition, many of the plans presented here are intentionally structured to match well with school and visa requirements. In addition, these same insurance providers have packages that work for recent grads and any international students who may be entering the workforce for the first time.

Final Thoughts

Remember that before you choose a health insurance plan, it is always good to check with your school international student office, your visa requirements, and any other factor that might impact your decision.

Depending on your situation, you may need specific things from a health insurance plan. In fact, you might not even need to go through the process of getting one yourself. Employers, exchange programs, and schools may provide you with viable options.

Seven Reasons Why Employers Should Hire International Graduates

For a long time, the United States has led all other countries as the top destination for international students.Our exceptional colleges and universities deserve a lot of credit, but you can’t overlook the allure of the American economy. Many come here not only to learn, but also to begin their careers.

This reality creates an inter-dependent relationship between academia and the business community at large. American companies need strong higher-ed institutions to serve as magnets for international talent. However, those same companies must keep up their end of the bargain by creating career opportunities for international students when they graduate.

Politics aside, the goal of this article is not to discuss whether immigration of skilled labor is good or bad. It is to encourage employers to continue to do their part to support this educational and economic network.

It starts with inclusive recruiting and hiring practices. Here are seven reasons why employers should hire recent international grads.

1. Most international students do not need visa sponsorship

Many employers assume an international graduate will need work sponsorship through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The benefits to the employer of hiring the right person always outweigh the extra effort that come with the sponsorship process. Nonetheless, some employers shy away from sponsorship out of concern that it is a hassle.

However, international students who are enrolled at a university or who have recently graduated do not necessarily need sponsorship to work.

After graduation, international students can apply for what is called optional practical training, or OPT. In a nutshell, OPT permits someone to stay in the country for up to 12 months on a student visa while working. Between 2004 and 2016, nearly 1.5 million people took advantage of OPT to remain and work in the United States.

After OPT runs out, those who have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, or math fields can apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

OPT allows employers to take a chance on an international student or recent graduate for up to three years without filling out any additional paperwork.

After an employee has exhausted their OPT, they can apply for work sponsorship or petition the government for a green card that would allow them to remain in the United States as a permanent resident.

2. International graduates bring diversity

We all know the benefits of a diverse workforce, and they have nothing to do with meeting quotas or political correctness.

Like your stock portfolio, diversity increases performance. In 2017, Boston Consulting Group surveyed 1,700 companies in eight countries to research the work benefits of diversity. The group’s study established that diverse teams drive innovation and that they produce 19 percent more revenue than their non-diverse counterparts.

When employers think about diversity, they often think about domestic talent. Hiring international graduates, however, can fulfill a whole host of diversity initiatives, from nationality to religion to language as well as to race and ethnicity.

Perhaps most importantly, international graduates bring diverse thinking styles and experiences, the very qualities that can help your team solve a sticky problem, expand to other markets, or develop new technologies.

3. International graduates are loyal

More than half of recent college graduates will leave their first job within a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Almost as if they are dating, young domestic employees tend to bounce around until they find a job that they consider to be a good match with their interests and career goals.

This is not the case, however, for international grads.

Being here on a visa, whether it is a traditional six-year H-1B work visa or an F-1 student visa with an OPT extension, makes it less attractive for international employees to play the field. It’s not that they are prohibited from quitting a job; it’s just that doing so subjects them to a host of rules and reporting requirements. In addition, in some instances, such a move could jeopardize their immigration status.

Recent international graduates aren’t just loyal out of necessity or convenience. They are legitimately grateful of the opportunity their employer has extended to them, often more so than domestic hires are.

4. They’re hungry for work

If given the chance, 80% of international students would stay in the United States to start their careers after graduating.

It makes sense for them financially. They just spent a substantial amount of money on a college education, and the return on that investment is better here than in an emerging economy where the wages are low. After all, many of them still have loans to pay.

The truth is, though, that the same 80% end up returning home mainly because of immigration hurdles and inability to find work.

5. There is limited competition for top talent

In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported on a frustrating trend: More U.S. companies began to advertise jobs with requirements that candidates be U.S. citizens or legal residents. These companies blamed political uncertainty over the future of work visas in the United States.

According to the article, one M.B.A. graduate originally from Pakistan sent out 1,000 applications before finally landing a position as a senior financial analyst.

With new federal leadership, it’s time to quit leaving all this talent on the table. Don’t wait, either. Start recruiting now while the competition remains low.

6. Hosting international talent benefits the overall economy

Educating international students contributes $41 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

In fact, education is our fourth largest export, after cars, planes, and pharmaceuticals.

The number of international students in the United States at any given time is about 1.1 million, with around 300,000 new students arriving here each year to begin their educations. Simply put, the United States is the Holy Grail of international higher education.

The benefits to the economy don’t end at graduation either.

Statistics show that larger numbers of OPT workers in the country correlate with a lower unemployment rate. Researchers think this correlation might be because those workers are driving the kind of innovation that creates jobs.

7. It ensures continuous talent flow.

Like a championship basketball program, successful economies recruit from all over the place.

But that process doesn’t start when talented international students graduate and start their job hunt. It starts with student enrollment. Right now, enrollment is down.

In the 2015/2016 academic year, 300,743 new international students enrolled for the first time at a U.S. institution. By the 2018/2019 academic year, that figure had declined by 10%.

The eventual result is an overall hiring pool that’s a little bit shallower.

Employers can do their part to help turn the tide and ensure we continue to attract the world’s best young workers. Actively recruiting and hiring international students goes a long way, but employers might also want to go a step further. Employers can reach out to colleges and universities in their region or that have degree programs in their areas of need to see how they can partner.

Setting up an internship program for international students or developing some other sort of college-to-workforce pipeline would prove mutually beneficial for the recruitment efforts of both university and employer.

Think about your own history. Whether you are the daughter of immigrants or the great-great-great-great grandson of immigrants, you owe a debt of gratitude to that person who overlooked an accent and maybe an unusual name and hired the first person in your family to set foot on American soil.

As an employer, you have the opportunity to pay that good fortune forward while also reaping these seven benefits to hiring international talent.

Take advantage of it.

This article was originally written by Interstride’s CEO, Nitin Agrawal, and published on the NACE blog.

Jennifer Wang | From Taiwan to Tufts to Dassault Systèmes

Jennifer Wang Business Planning Specialist at Dassault Systèmes

Jennifer is originally from Taichung, Taiwan and graduated from Tufts University in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics. The latter major was an intentional choice that afforded her the STEM OPT extension.

Tell us about your career path

Once I was accepted to college, I knew I wanted to start my career in the US, to at least take advantage of the 3 years of OPT, but I wasn’t completely set on staying in the country beyond that. I knew I wanted my career to be a global one, so I didn’t mind trying out another region if the opportunity rose.

Growing up, my career interest was always in International Relations; my dream job was in the UN or the WTO, but once I got to the US, I quickly realized that it was not the most viable path for my situation for a variety of reasons out of my control, so I had to pivot. I explored career paths from International Relations research at think tanks, investment banking, to consulting. I knew vaguely that I wanted roles that were relationship-oriented. Ultimately I ended up targeting business roles at technology companies with an international footprint.

After my junior year of college, I started interning for my current company – Dassault Systèmes, all the way to graduation–first in corporate social responsibility, then in business development (sales). I put an emphasis on networking internally – I made an effort to introduce myself to everyone I met at the office, leveraged my alumni network within the company, involved myself in projects promoting the internship program, and made sure to build a relationship with the University Recruiting team in HR. I also had amazing managers who proactively connected me with different people in the company based on my interests. My goal was to really be top of mind for any role I was targeting once the company started hiring, and it worked. When I graduated, I worked elsewhere for six months, but I made sure to keep my connections updated on my progress. When a role reopened, I was immediately contacted about it, invited to interview, and ultimately accepted the offer.

How was Canada part of the strategy?

Canada was never part of the strategy, but I rolled with it as the opportunity arose. When I found myself graduating into the height of covid, May 2020, without a full-time offer in hand, my internship team connected me with one of Dassault Systèmes’ reseller partners in Canada. Despite the pandemic, they were expanding into a new sales territory, and I accepted the offer – the only one I had. My top priority then was to use up the least amount of unemployment days allowed on OPT and maintain work authorization while I continued looking for US-based opportunities, so I stayed in the US while working remotely for a Canadian company. A US-based job was still my goal, but Canada was an acceptable backup plan, especially since I completed part of my education in French, which offers certain advantages in Canada. As a general note, Canada has less stringent immigration requirements for skilled workers, and it could be a nice alternative if the H-1B doesn’t work out.-

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Although there were practical challenges during the job search, such as getting to the final stages of an interview then realizing visa sponsorship was an issue, the biggest challenge overall was staying mentally confident and positive when it seemed like I was “failing” at what I came to the US to do (get a job in the US). Staying positive was important because that confident (or lack of) attitude spills over in interviews, if I couldn’t convince myself that I was qualified enough, how could I convince an interviewer with minimal knowledge about me that I was the best candidate?

How did you overcome that challenge? What were the most helpful resources during this time?

It required a mindset change where I wasn’t measuring myself based on the outcome (i.e.: I still did not get an offer) but based on the progress (i.e.: I landed X interviews this week or I made Y networking calls this week). To measure progress, I treated the job search like a sales job – I set KPIs on how many outreaches (LinkedIn messages, emails) a day I made to get informational interviews, how many informational interviews I converted from those outreaches a week, and how many job opportunities I uncovered from informational interviews. I tracked everything in a spreadsheet, CRM-style. That gave me mental reassurance and concrete evidence that I was progressing, and even if I didn’t have an offer in hand yet, I could see I was going in the right direction. The most helpful resource I found was my university alumni network — I had the most success getting informational interviews from alumni and learning about opportunities or getting referred to more people in their network to speak to.

What’s next for you?

I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found my career footing in sales strategy, I really enjoy what I do, and I’d like to continue this path for a while. I started on an H1B last year (2021), so I’m planning to stay in the US for the next five years or so, but then I think it’s time to find my way back to Europe, either in France or the UK. I used to be adamant about starting an MBA in the next few years, but now I’m more flexible about that idea. If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s being open to any possibility and rolling with it!

What’s your advice for international students?

I always think back to this analogy my parents said to me during the job search — imagine you’re a well-oiled race car, you may be fast, but if you choose to race on pothole-filled dirt roads, you may not go as fast as racing on a smooth paved track.” Admittedly there’s another argument that “diamonds are created under pressure,” where adversity creates resilience, but my takeaway from the analogy is not to avoid challenges and take the easy road, but to be open-minded, flexible, and strategic about what opportunities you search for and how you leverage opportunities to get to your goals.

How to Prepare an American Resume as an International Student

When seeking an internship or job in the U.S. as an international student, preparing an American resume is essential to successfully obtaining employment. Every university and college has a preferred template that they like their students to follow. Consider consulting your career office for your institution-specific resume template and formatting advice as you read this article.

Developing a strong U.S. format resume will highlight your education, skills and experiences to U.S. employers and increase your chances of landing competitive roles.

Even if you already have a resume, it may differ significantly from what is expected in the U.S. For example, American resumes generally include less personal information than other nations, contain no photos and test scores, and may differ in their format and content.

Resumes can be used for on-campus jobs, internships, full-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, and even networking and informational calls and events. Every job you apply to will require you to send in a resume, so it is important that your resume’s content and format fits what is expected from U.S. employers.

Resume Content

A resume’s content can differ based on what industry or role one is applying to, but U.S. format resumes all typically include several standard sections of content.

  • Personal Information: U.S. resumes usually have a page header that includes one’s full name, cell phone number, and email. Some resumes also include a home address, city, personal website, or LinkedIn profile link.
  • Education: Your school’s name, location, degree, area of study, and dates attended are the essential pieces to list. You may also want to include your GPA, relevant coursework, or awards and honors achieved, if space permits. Different countries can have different degrees and university-related terms, so be as clear as possible and avoid abbreviations. Additionally, do not list a high school or unnecessary educational information.
  • Relevant Experience: In this section, you want to list your most relevant past work experiences, such as internships and jobs. Most relevant experience sections focus on full-time and part-time jobs, internships, and co-ops, but you can also add research experience, student leadership, volunteering, and independent projects. This section is usually the largest, and should include concise but valuable information on each of your past experiences.
  • Skills and Interests: Most U.S. resumes include this section, where you can feature technical skills applicable to the role you are applying to. You can also add any international experiences and languages. Some undergraduate students also include several of their interests and hobbies if space permits, as this can add more personality to one’s resume. However, this is not a priority, and transferable skills should be listed first.

Resume Format

A resume should be formatted in a way that is organized and easy-to-read. Standard U.S. resumes are usually only one page long, so it is important to keep your resume’s content concise. 

Additionally, U.S. resumes follow a reverse-chronological format, which puts your most recent experience at the top of each section. For example, if your education section includes multiple institutions, you would put the most recent one attended at the top. Similarly, in your relevant experience section, your most recent job or internship should be listed first.

U.S. style resumes should be written in standard American English rather than British English. In terms of font, most U.S. resumes are formatted in a classical font like Times New Roman, Ga,ramond or Cambria. It is also important to have the right font size, with most resumes using 11-12 point font size; this way, you can include detailed information while also keeping the resume easily readable.

Final Thoughts

Creating an effective U.S. format resume will highlight your education, skills and experiences to U.S. employers, and increase your chances as you apply to jobs, internships, or research projects. As you search for employment, Interstride’s portal can help you apply for jobs and internships that are hiring international students. Simply log in to have its resources available.