The H-1B visa is possibly the most controversial visa in the entire US Immigration system and certainly receives the most press coverage. We have tried to help all of you via our posts and answering your comments and emails by trying to provide resources so you can find a employer sponsor and get your H-1B visa.
We will look at another avenue to consider to getting your H-1B visa which of tens of thousands purse each year to great success making it the most common and thus pre-cursor to get a H-1B visa.
There are actually two ways we will eventually discuss as you see below but for now we will look at the F-1 visa route
- via F-1 visa
- via J-1 visa
The F-1 Visa:
This visa is a full time student visa and used mostly by International students from all over the world to study at US college and universities for their undergraduate, masters/graduate and/or PHD programs. I will cover more on the F-1 visa in future posts including all its benefits and pitfalls, requirements as well as how to apply, etc.
It is very popular and historically has been the main way people from all over the world have been able to transfer from student to the H-1B visa. So in essence it is already used extensively as a stepping stone for Internationals to become full working professionals in the United States.
Of course this is not a cheap option, as outside of outstanding students and those in many PHD programs, chances are you will have to pay for your education in full. As you may be aware, college tuition fees in the US are not cheap.
Now it is very difficult for International students to get loans in the US, however Sallie Mae does have a program called Tuition Pay allowing to break up payments evenly over the months of a semester.
Well short of having a source of funds to be able to attend one of the prestigious universities in the US like the Ivy League Group including Harvard or Yale, you can attend state universities where the tuition is much lower (although still probably expensive by global standards).
The tuition at state universities is subsidized by the Government and is even lower for residents of that state (normally you have to live in a state for 1 year to qualify for this so after a year of study your fees may even go down depending on the regulations of that state and university regarding foreign students).
The fees are generally charged by the amount of credits each subjects gives you and of course you need a certain amount. Without going into too much detail about this in this post, you are looking at up to $5,000 per semester for undergraduates but this depends on a large amount of factors and could vary. Here is a link from Sallie Mae to help you estimate costs. Of course Masters programs can be more but is generally only half the length of a undergraduate degree (2 years vs. 4 years)
After all that what the F-1 visa does give you is the ability to do 4 things which greatly enhance your chances of finding an employer to sponsor your H-1B visa easily.
- CPT – Curricullum Practical Training which allows you to work for credits to your degree (don’t do more than 12 months as it makes you ineligible for OPT)
- OPT – Occupational Practical Training which is 1 year for undergraduates and now possibly up to 2 years for Masters or Higher Degree Holders to work at a US company. This is usually done by a student following graduation
- Network via University, Alumni and Above Work Training Programs – The contacts you meet will be invaluable probably for the rest of your life and you will have so much help, support and advantage compared to the average E3 visa hopeful
- Time – This may be the most important advantage as say you do a 4 year degree in the US or even transfer here for a part of your degree, you have so much time to do practical things like apply for jobs, build resumes and attend job interviews.
This is the almost the best option in your quest to obtain your H1B visa as it is the path most often used as a foreigner already has established contacts in the US and time to navigate the Immigration system and US job market within the US.