Studying while on a US Work Visa

A common question we have been getting recently from folks who are planning to work in the US is whether they are also able to study at a US University as well part time. In most cases this is to pursue a Graduate Degree like an MBA.

Because of the high prestige many US Universities are held in an MBA from a school in America is seen as a great way to enhance their career both in the US, in their home countries and indeed anywhere in the globe. Sometimes if they are really lucky their US employer might accommodate in terms of hours, subsidies or outright cost to pursue their education particularly if they are working in the consulting or technology industries.

So the common dilemma is I am here working on an H-1B visa, an E-3 visa or an L-1 visa and am I now able to study as well or do I have to get a separate F-1 visa which is the usual visa for studying. This question is also applicable for spouses on the H-4, E-3D and L-2 visas where in some cases people are allowed to work and others where they are prohibited.

First of all it is possible to work part time on any of the US work visas if the job meets all the regular conditions like specialty occupation and prevailing wage. You might be asked at a US Consulate interview if they believe your wage doesn’t meet a certain level to support yourself what additional funds you have but otherwise it is certainly fine to get a work visa based on part time employment or indeed two part time employers that both meet the criteria. Again you might be question by a US consular official how you plan to make that work.

So whether you are working part time or full time on a US work visa you are allowed to apply, be accepted and pursue an education at a US University. If your US work visa expires and is not renewed then you may have to switch to the F-1 visa to remain in the country (the spousal visa for the F-1 visa is the F-2 visa).

Generally when a US university is assessing your application as a foreigner candidate, regardless if you are already residing in the US, is your fund and ability to live in the US and to pay for your education which is usually expensive. It is only in very rare and exceptional cases that foreigners have access to scholarships and unless you have built a great US credit history, your chances at a loan would be slim or at non favorable rates. Sometimes a co-sponsor is required to ensure payments are made.

Ultimately if you are able to handle the work load of gainful employment and doing a graduate degree along with the financial obligation, it could be a profitable path in the long term. It also does enhance your chances of being eligible for the EB-2 category of Permanent Residency visas (Green Cards) as well if you want to stay in the US long term if your employer is willing to sponsor you.

Cj

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2 thoughts on “Studying while on a US Work Visa

  1. Thanks Cj for posting this timely article! I have read almost all your E3 articles over a couple of weeks and they have been invaluable. This answer (about work and study) was my last big question. I was very relieved when you first answered me about it in another comment thread. Thanks for expanding on the answer and putting my mind to rest! 🙂

  2. Ah hadn’t seen this one.. 1 question though, as a E3D do they need to apply for the work permit ? to be able to study or is E3D status sufficient

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