Want to school and work in america? Read this very carefully
Want to school and work in america? Read this very carefully
ON SCHOOLING AND WORKING IN AMERICA
About schooling or living or working in America, I think a lot of people either live in bubbles or do not have quality information. So, I am going to do this once, and give as much information as I can, based off of my own limited experience and knowledge. Anyone with better information is free to complement or challenge what I say. “I know somebody who know somebody” is not information. That somebody you know might not be telling you the whole story.
1. To enter the US you need a visa, and there are different kinds – student visas (e.g. J-1 and F-1), fiancé visa (to come see your fiancé), spousal visa (for people who are married or coming to get married), H1-B visa (if a US employer employs you), etc.
2. As a student, whether on J-1 or F-1 you are only allowed to work 20 hours max a week, and usually on campus. Of course, there are students who exceed this work limit, usually working off-the-book, under-the-table jobs, which is illegal but not uncommon.
3. When you finish school as a student, if you are on an F-1 visa (usually for students who self-sponsor or are sponsored by the school through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, etc.) you are allowed to do a one-year OPT (optional practical training) – like an internship to practice what you learned in school. NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY. This OPT is usually ONE YEAR for F-1 students, but if you did a STEM course, your OPT can be up to THREE YEARS.
4. So, when you hear someone say they finished school and stayed back in the US, they are either doing their ONE YEAR or THREE YEARS OPT.
5. For students on J-1 (usually those sponsored by a government or some scholarship bodies like the World Bank, Fulbright, etc., which is my visa category), there is also the option of a ONE YEAR Academic Training (AT), which is the equivalent of the OPT that F-1 or self-sponsored students get. In many cases, J-1 visas have a condition for such students to go back to their countries immediately after their program, and for some countries, like Nigeria, stay back for two years, before they can come back to the US to work or live permanently. However, this does not mean you cannot visit or even study in the US during this period. In fact, you can get a new visa, say an F-1 for another program, however, that 2-year condition will still be waiting for you (legally speaking that is, though I hear people may be able to find a way around this,
6. So, what happens after your ONE YEAR or THREE YEAR OPT? Some employer has to sponsor your visa (if I am not wrong, basically, get you a H1-B visa, which is a work visa) for you to stay back legally. And if this does not happen, what is your fate? See you, see your country. Again, legally. Please, I am not interested in what people do illegally to stay back in the US. So it is normal for people on OPT, who have not got sponsors yet, to be worried and in some cases desperate. Some people might decide to enroll in another program to remain in the US and delay doomsday. Note, you cannot get OPT twice for the same level of education. So if you get one for masters, you can only get another one after your PhD.
7. So, what are the options of staying back after school? Well, the straightforward one is getting an employer to sponsor your work visa (and this is not the easiest thing in the world). Outside this, a common one is marriage. People get married – real or fake, to stay back.
8. Outside the easy-hanging fruit – marriage, loads of people stay back illegally. Their visas expire and they just stay back. What this means is that you are an illegal or undocumented (as Oyibo like to sugarcoat things) resident. This also means because you don’t have a work permit na only under-the-table, minimum wage kinda jobs you can be doing. Those jobs pay cash because the employer is also avoiding paying taxes to the government. Those jobs na sufferhead job of course, but if you convert your dollars to Naira, you are a big man . These are the kind of jobs that you apply in the morning and get before 12 o’clock o.
9. Also, some undocumented people might be using a fake social security card or other people’s own to work. The thing with staying undocumented is that you cannot leave the US, because your visa is expired. As you leave like this, there is no way to come back in. Some of the people who stay abroad for donkey years and have not returned home may be illegal residents.
“I believe now you have a clearer picture.
So, if you are coming to school in the US and your goal is to remain back, here is a summary of things you need to know:
1. You most likely need to get an F-1 visa. If you come with J-1 like me, even if you decide to marry, you go still go do that your two years for Nigeria before you can come and live permanently with your wife here. If you don’t want to do that, you can switch to a visitor visa, but you cannot work with that kind of visa, unless you want to continue doing under-the-table for the rest of your life.
2. If you get an F-1, just know you have ONLY ONE YEAR after school, or THREE YEARS if your program is STEM. And in that time, if you don’t get an employer to sponsor you, (which is not impossible, but definitely not a MY CASE IS DIFFERENT matter), you will either go back or find one of the roundabout ways people use to stay back in America endlessly. There are pros and cons to roundabout ways as you should know by now.
3. Marriage is probably your surest bet – if you fall in love, whether willingly or by force, good for you, and if you want do arrangee marriage, still good for you.
IF I AM TO ADVISE PEOPLE LOOKING TO RELOCATE ABROAD THROUGH SCHOOLING…
Canada is definitely your best bet. Trust me, I honestly don’t get the hype about being in America.
Immigration in Canada is a way better package than it is in America – in fact, they cannot be compared. If you get a student permit for Canada, after school, you get the same number of years as the length of your course to stay back and find a job. So, if you do a one-year course, you get one year. In this time, you can file for permanent residency, and even if you don’t get it immediately, you can always extend your after-school stay until you get a permanent residency. So, for Canada, the hardest thing is getting a student permit, because immigration officials know that people just use school these days to come to Canada so they can stay back. A Canadian Study Permit is definitely more difficult to get than a US Student Visa, again, for obvious reasons. If you manage to get into school in Canada, if you want to stay back, this is almost a sure way to. In a few years you can get your permanent residency, and a few more years you can get your citizenship. As a permanent resident in Canada, your chances of getting jobs in the US are way higher.
And lastly, to find job after schooling in the US is not undoable, but in fact, like in many countries (as I suspect), it is not a walk in the park. Be prepared to do loads of applications (because there are thousands of people across all 50 states applying for those sweet jobs too). But if you want to finish school and work at McDonald’s feel free to relax. Nothing do you, your job sure.
So, because the job space is fiercely competitive, you need to put your best foot forward. These people use programs these days to filter through CVs and screen for certain keywords to narrow the candidates. A bad resume will never be picked. This is why any serious person should get a professional to make-over their CVs for them.
PS: I hear the UK’s two-year post-study visa ish isn’t much different from America’s OPT set up. So, look before you leap. No just take your money jump enter where you no go get wetin you want. Or at least, enter with the right orientation so you can plan appropriately.