I was talking to one of my friends the other day regarding his wife’s higher education plans on H4 visa and we were discussing about advantages and disadvantages like in-state tuition, OPT, etc. I talked to few universities just to validate the information of H4 visa in-state requirements. This article will focus on advantages of studying on H4 visa and some disadvantages too.
Why H4 Visa holders wish to study MS or MBA in USA ?
I have seen many of my friends who recently got married actively inquiring about H4 visa education requirements, how to send their wife to study MS or MBA in US. There are a variety of reasons for H4 visa holders to aspire to study MS or MBA in US.
- Young educated professionals who are married to H1B holders in US are ambitious and would like to pursue higher education to reach their education goals.
- Most of the young professional women are so bored at home and they are having hard time adjusting from their busy work life before marriage and slow house wife life staying at home. They want to keep themselves busy and get education instead of wasting time sitting at home.
- Also, one of the significant reasons is the H1B rules of 2011 impact on H4 visa conversion to H1B visa.
- Some of them see the advantages of going back to school and taking advantage of OPT and other visa and tuition fee related advantages.
In-state tuition Eligibility for H4 visa holders in USA
In fact, I was not sure on this until recent conversation with my friends and inquiring various schools about H4 visa in-state tuition. In reality, most of the state schools in USA give in-state tuition for H4 visa dependent holders based on few conditions listed below. This may vary by state and you will need to check with the school before making assumptions.
- H4 visa holder has to be married and be dependent to H1B visa holder for at least one year and lived in the same state for at least one year.
- The H1B visa holder of H4 dependent should have paid state taxes and have proof of Residency by providing all or few of the below :
- State Drivers license stating one year or more stay in State
- House Lease documents proof
- W2 Forms, state tax filing papers
- Car Registration document in the state
- Bank account in the state.
I have talked to UW Madison Residency office and they said, the H4 visa holder has to be in the state with husband for more than an year to claim the in-state tuition. Also, I have talked to North Carolina State University Residency office and they said they provide in-state for H4 visa holders, but they would need to look in detail. Similar was the case with University of California Berkley , Virginia State University Domicile Residency requirements . The in-state tuition eligibility can vary by state and there are always exceptions and you will have to check with school you are applying to. In general, H4 visa holders are eligible, in most of the states, for in-state tuition in state funded schools provided they meet few requirements. You will need to check with specific school you plan to apply to verify the policy based on state regulations.
Advantages of Studying on H4 Visa
Well, If you do not know what in-state fee means, Read : In-state vs Out-of State tuition. Can you get in-state tuition if you work in US for more than year ?
- If you meet the requirements as listed above for in-state tuition, the biggest advantage is Tuition fee savings. Your total tuition is less than one half. You will save at least 50 – 60 % of tuition or more depending on the tuition fee structure.
- You can study Full time and do not worry about working during studying. Your husband pays for your school and you get all the time in the world to study and focus on education.
- If you have worked in India for some time, you may have an advantage over others in terms of grasping subjects quickly and performing better.
- Once you graduate, you will be eligible for 20,000 additional H1B visas category for Masters in US. If you complete at the right time and find a H1B sponsor at right time, you may apply for H1B visa and work in US on H1B visa utilizing the extra quota for H1B visa.
Disadvantages of Studying on H4 visa :
- You will not be able to work On-Campus and cannot utilize the opportunities of TA, RA or GA funding options of University
- You will not be able to work on CPT as F1 students.
- You will not be eligible for a minimum of 1 year OPT
- If you belong to STEM Degree category, you will not be able to use the 24 month extension of OPT for STEM Degrees
- (This is applicable only if you plan to change to F1 visa after re-entry ) If you leave US for some reason and have to re-enter, you will have to get F1 Visa stamped on your passport.
- If you do not meet the H4 in-state tuition requirements, you will have to wait for one year to meet the requirements. This is one year waste of time !
How to prep yourself for In-state Tuition eligibility on H1B and H4 Visas
Make sure you follow the below steps after you move to a new state, so that you do not regret after one year of stay for in-state tuition purpose.
- Get a state drivers license in the first week or 10 days.
- Register your Car and get State registration number plate in 10 days
- Make sure you have lease on your name.
- If you are a consultant, make sure you are paying taxes to the state you are living in, you must file taxes at end of year and have copy of W2 for future reference.
- Open a bank account if you can in the state.
You may also read University of California Berkeley : How to Establish residency for Tuition purposes . Hopefully, you got a good idea on H4 visa holder education in US with a gist of advantages and disadvantages. You have to carefully decide and talk to school DSO that you are applying to before you jump into any conclusions. You will not get any in-state tuition in Private schools !
Funding your Education on H4 Visa ? Education Loan for studying on H4 visa ?
If you are passionate to study, but do not have money or you do not have credit history to take loan to study, it can be very frustrating. Luckily, one of the promising Y-Combinator funded fintech startups founded by international students, has an option to support H4 visa holders to get education loan. You or your spouse can apply and get loan for education in US. You can get loan anywhere from $1,000 USD to $25,000 USD depending on your eligibility, even without credit history. You also build credit history, if you get loan approved. We have partnered with them, you can Apply for H4 Study Education Loan at Stilt
What has been your experience ? Did you get in-state tuition ? Share your experience.
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