Studying in the United States is one of the best opportunities one can ever get. Apart from a good education, there are also many job opportunities for international students. But the cost of education in the United States is so high that most people would rather not think about moving there to study. However, the good news is that there are many opportunities to study freely in the US and also work as an international student.
We don’t want to bore you with much writing. The essence of this sponsored post is to bring your attention to the enormous opportunities to make your dream of relocating to the US to study free and work while studying possible this year possible. Over the years, we’ve known how difficult it has been for most people, so we want to help.
PLEASE NOTE: We have to be honest with you, you need regular updates and support. And that is what we are providing for you for free. Be active as we would be willing to help you apply for up to 50 scholarships this year. Yes 50 applications to study abroad, you certainly will get at least one. Just stick around, check our updates and contact us when you need help.
The article is split into two sections:
- How to get a full scholarship or financial aid to study free in the US
- How to work in the US as an international student
How to get a full scholarship or financial aid to study free in the US
Full scholarships (also known as full-ride scholarships) are the most sought-after financing options, which cover almost all expenses for the entire 3 or 4 years at university. Your tuition and living expenses are covered by the institution, allowing you to concentrate on your studies and your social life without having to worry about finances. This sounds wonderful.
There aren’t a lot of dream scholarships available. They are scarce, and those that do exist are highly competitive. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try to apply for them. Here are critical suggestions to help you land the scholarships of your dream.
There are several ways to obtain a full scholarship to study in the United States. You can start by researching the financial aid resources available at the universities and colleges you are interested in attending. You can also search online for scholarship databases, such as the College Board’s BigFuture Scholarship Search, which allows you to search for scholarships based on your interests, major, and other criteria. Here are other options available:
Academic scholarships are financial awards that are given to students based on their academic achievements, such as grades, test scores, and other academic qualifications. These scholarships are usually offered by colleges, universities, and other educational institutions, as well as by private organizations and foundations.
Academic scholarships are typically merit-based, meaning that they are awarded based on the student’s ability and potential, rather than on financial need. However, some academic scholarships may also consider financial needs as a factor in the selection process.
To apply for an academic scholarship, students generally need to meet certain eligibility requirements, such as maintaining a minimum grade point average (GPA) and meeting certain test score requirements. Students may also need to submit an application, transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and other materials.
There are many different types of academic scholarships available, including scholarships for specific majors, scholarships for students from underrepresented groups, and scholarships for students who have excelled in particular areas of study, such as math, science, or the arts.
Students can search for academic scholarships by contacting their school’s financial aid office, visiting the websites of colleges and universities, and searching online databases of scholarships. It’s also a good idea for students to talk to their guidance counselors and teachers, as they may be aware of scholarship opportunities that are not widely advertised.
Merit-based scholarships are financial aid awards that are granted to students based on their academic, artistic, athletic, or other abilities. These scholarships are usually awarded by colleges, universities, and other organizations to recognize and reward students who have achieved a high level of excellence in their field of study or pursuit.
To be eligible for a merit-based scholarship, students typically need to meet certain criteria, such as maintaining a high GPA, participating in extracurricular activities, and demonstrating leadership skills. Some scholarships may also require students to submit an application, essay, or other materials to demonstrate their qualifications.
Merit-based scholarships can be a great way for students to pay for their education and reduce the burden of student loan debt. However, they are often competitive, and not all students who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a scholarship. Students need to research and apply for multiple scholarship opportunities to increase their chances of receiving financial aid.
Recommended: Browse all UPCOMING study abroad opportunities here, and mark the ones you are interested in so that we will update you immediately they open for applications and also help you through the application process.
Need-based scholarships are financial aid awards that are granted to students based on their financial needs. These scholarships are typically awarded by colleges, universities, and other organizations to help students who may not be able to afford the cost of tuition and other expenses associated with higher education.
To be eligible for a need-based scholarship, students typically need to demonstrate that they have a financial need by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a similar form. The FAFSA asks questions about a student’s income, assets, and other financial information to determine their level of need.
Need-based scholarships are usually awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so students need to apply as early as possible. Some need-based scholarships may also require students to meet certain academic or other criteria to be eligible.
Need-based scholarships can be a valuable resource for students who may not have the financial resources to pay for their education without assistance. However, the availability of these scholarships can vary, and not all students who demonstrate financial need will receive a scholarship.
Government-funded scholarships are financial aid awards that are provided by the government to help students pay for their education. These scholarships may be offered at the federal, state, or local level and are typically designed to support students who may not have the financial resources to pay for their education without assistance. Government-funded scholarships may be need-based or merit-based, depending on the specific program.
The U.S. government offers several scholarship programs, such as the Fulbright Program and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, to help students from around the world study in the United States. Government-funded scholarships can be a valuable resource for students who may not have the financial resources to pay for their education without assistance. However, the availability of these scholarships can vary, and not all students who demonstrate financial need or meet the eligibility requirements will receive a scholarship. Students need to research and apply for multiple scholarship opportunities to increase their chances of receiving financial aid.
Private scholarships are funds provided by private organizations, rather than the government or a school. These scholarships can be offered by businesses, foundations, community groups, or other private organizations and are typically given to students who meet certain criteria set by the organization offering the scholarship. Private scholarships can be based on a variety of factors, such as academic achievement, financial need, community service, leadership, artistic talent, or other accomplishments or characteristics.
Private scholarships are often used to help students pay for the costs of higher education, including tuition, fees, and other expenses. Some private scholarships may be awarded on a one-time basis, while others may be renewable for multiple years. Many private scholarships have specific application processes, and students may be required to submit transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, or other materials as part of their application.
It’s important to do your research and carefully review the eligibility criteria and application requirements for any private scholarships you’re interested in applying for. Some organizations may require applicants to be enrolled in a specific degree program or attend a specific school, while others may have more general eligibility requirements. It’s also a good idea to start looking for private scholarship opportunities early, as the application process can be competitive and deadlines may vary.
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How to work in the US as an international student
Now, having been admitted or gotten the scholarship and you’re ready to move to the USA, it’s important you become aware of the opportunities available to you as an international student to work. This is where we need to talk because many people confuse this with regular work for other immigrants with different visas.
Foreigners have a wide range of opportunities for employment within this country in the United States. If you are an international student studying in the US, you have the opportunity to work part-time but remember that you are restricted by the terms of your visa. It is a MUST that you know all the requirements and restrictions concerning your visa!
US Employment Rules for F1 Students
Most international students in the United States hold an F1 visa, which is a U.S. non-immigrant student visa. F1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and by complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Generally, all employment is contingent on remaining within the terms and restrictions of your F1 visa. There are several categories of employment during the term of your stay as an F1 student in the United States. On-campus employment is the most freely available, and then there are four categories of off-campus employment:
On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office before accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student’s first semester or year.
The definition of on-campus employment includes:
- Work performed on the school’s premises directly for your school (including work affiliated with a grant or assistantship).
- Work performed for on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria (Employment with on-site commercial firms which do not provide direct student services, such as a construction company building a school building, is not deemed on-campus employment for the purposes of the rule).
- Work performed at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. The educational affiliation must be associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level. In any event, employment must be an integral part of the student’s educational program.
For on-campus work, an F1 student is subject to the following rules:
- You must maintain valid F1 status
- You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
- You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the next academic semester
- The employment may not displace (take a job away from) a U.S. resident
Since your status is always contingent on your school’s support, you must seek guidance and clearance from your International Student Office before applying for or accepting any employment. You should request their particular interpretation of any ambiguous situation. You will also need your school’s guidance to ensure that you file all appropriate forms with USCIS and receive any necessary USCIS approval.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
International students in the U.S. with valid F1 immigration status are permitted to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status both during and after the completion of their degree. Rules established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) govern the implementation of OPT, and all OPT employment requires prior authorization from USCIS and from your school’s International Student Office.
You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and you have been enrolled for at least a year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for your OPT EAD, and your OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US. Start early—USCIS takes up to 90 days to process your application—and make sure you work closely with your school’s International Student Office. As with everything you will do while in the U.S., permission is based on maintaining lawful F1 status and your International Student Office is there to help you maintain that status throughout your stay.
General OPT Requirements:
- Employment must be “directly related” to the student’s major
- Student must maintain lawful F1 status
- Students must apply for OPT before completion of all work toward a degree
- Students who have engaged in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are not eligible for OPT
- OPT is permitted for up to 12 months full-time in total – part-time OPT (while still in school) reduces available full-time OPT by half of the amount of part-time work (for instance, if you work part-time for 6 months, you can work full-time for up to 9 months)
The good thing is that many schools in the United States offer work and study programs that coordinate immediate employment through CPT programs. Not only does this allow international students to help cover the costs of their education, but they will at the same time gain valuable work experience and obtain their master’s degree. Organizations like HTIR Work-Study can connect students with schools that offer work-study programs.
OPT before completing a degree:
- Students must be enrolled in school full-time
- Students may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session
- Students may work full-time during summer and other breaks (as long as the student will return to school after the break)
- Student may work full-time after completion of all coursework if a thesis or dissertation is still required and the student is making normal progress toward the degree
OPT after completing a degree:
- After completion of your degree, OPT work must be full-time (40 hours/week)
- All OPT must be completed within 14 months after completion of your degree
- Applications for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS before the completion of the degree
However, don’t get into trouble. Do the right thing. Be mindful of the travel regulations governing F1 students on OPT. If you leave the country after completion of your degree, but before receiving your EAD and obtaining a job, you may not be readmitted. You can leave the country after completion of your degree if you have your EAD and a job, but make sure you bring everything that you’ll need to get back in (including a valid passport, valid EAD card, valid F1 visa, all your I-20s with page 3 endorsed for travel by your international student advisor within the past 6 months, and a letter of employment, including dates of employment and salary).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option for F1 students when practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must be awarded. And yes, you can get paid for CPT employment. Prior authorization by your school’s International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.
Many schools in the United States offer work and study programs that coordinate immediate employment through CPT programs. Not only does this allow international students to help cover the costs of their education, but they will at the same time gain valuable work experience and obtain their master’s degree.
To be eligible for CPT employment:
- You must have been enrolled in school full-time for one year on valid F1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
- The CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit
- You must have received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request
- Your job offer must be in your major or field of study
Your International Student Office must authorize you for CPT. Once you receive CPT authorization, you can only work for the specific employer and for the specific dates authorized (unlike with OPT or severe economic hardship off-campus employment, where you can work anywhere in the US). Your CPT authorization will also specify whether you are approved for part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT employment. While in school, you can only be approved for part-time CPT.
Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long you can work. However, if you work full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, you are not eligible for OPT. If you work part-time on CPT, or full-time on CPT for less than 12 months, you are still eligible for all of your allowable OPT. So make sure you watch the dates and hours closely – don’t jeopardize your OPT!
As with all employment, you should work closely with your International Student Office. The general rules will apply somewhat differently to undergraduates, graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates, and they can guide you. The office can help you determine your eligibility for CPT, make sure your job offer qualifies, and make sure you follow all necessary steps in applying to USCIS. They also have to authorize your CPT, so you have no choice – you have to work with them. But they are pros, especially when it comes to USCIS regulations, so use them – they are there to help you.
Recommended: Browse all CURRENT study abroad opportunities, mark the ones you are interested in, and contact us to guide you through the application process.
Severe Economic Hardship
Any F1 student suffering “severe economic hardship” as defined by USCIS is eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time during breaks.
To be eligible under “severe economic hardship”, a student must:
- Be in valid F1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
- Be in good academic standing
- Provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control
- Show that on-campus employment is neither available nor sufficient
- Make a good-faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying
Examples of Severe Economic Hardship:
The rule gives examples of the types of things that could be considered “severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.” These circumstances may include:
- loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
- substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
- inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
- unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support
- medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
You must apply for an “employment authorization document” (EAD) with the help and guidance of your International Student Office — you do not need a job offer before you apply for the EAD. But several forms and documents are required, together with fees and photos, etc., and processing can take up to 12 weeks or longer — and you cannot start work until you receive the EAD. Once you receive the EAD, you may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain valid F1 status.
Employment with an International Organization
The final category of employment for international students in the U.S. on F1 visas is employment with a “recognized international organization.” To qualify, an organization must be on the official State Department list, and listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations. Because it does not have the universal application of OPT or CPT, this category of employment is often overlooked. Only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations are eligible. However, for those lucky students who do have such sponsorship, there are clear benefits of this employment category.
Requirements to work for an international organization:
- The student must have an internship/employment with a “recognized international organization.” Click here to see a recent listing of all “recognized international organizations.”
- The employment must be within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship and the student’s field of study.
- The student must have been in valid F1 status for at least one full academic year.
- The student must be in good academic standing.
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You can start to work only after you receive your EAD, which can take up to 3 months.
Advantages of this type of employment when compared to CPT or OPT:
- Employment does not have to be for credit nor required for your degree program.
- Regardless of how much or how long you work, this type of employment will not take away from your 12-month post-completion OPT.
The information in this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. Federal and state laws vary frequently, so the information contained in this article might not be in line with the laws of your state, as well as the latest modifications in the laws.