Some of the most fundamental questions that international students need to ask themselves before they start preparing to study in the US are as below :
- What are my goals for studying abroad?
- Does studying in the US for international students give them good career progression?
- Why should I study master’s degree in the US? Any specific reasons?
- Am I looking to just get a job after MS or do something more like Ph.D. in the US?
- What are the impacts of the recession on F1 students in the US for Funding, Jobs, etc.?
- What are the work visa requirements for F1 students to work in the US?
There can be many such questions similar to above, where you should ask yourself, Why? and again Why? It is a lot of time commitment and money too. It is two years of your valuable life. In this article, we are focusing on the goals for studying in the US and not finances.
Most international students are driven by either of the below two major objectives.
- Passion to study and get into the career of their choice or do research.
- Get a nice paying job after MS/ MBA and make those dream dollars and live the “American Dream!”
Passion to study in the US, do research & get Ph.D.? or MBA ?
There are a lot of students who are very passionate about US education. They want to achieve something in their technical or functional arena. It could be a research passion or it could be a passion for business. Some students just like the education system in the US, they want to experience the education system. Check the article for more info : Bachelors and Masters Education System in USA vs India .
Most decent US universities provide outstanding research infrastructure and support students, and active researchers with state and federal grants, including grants given by major corporate companies. If your goal is to excel in your area of interest and get Ph.D. in the future and may be inventing something, become a professor or scientist one day, then US is probably a very good choice.
Maybe there are other countries on par with the US Universities, but still, the US is definitely a very good choice to pursue your research and goals. Also, if you plan to do MBA and become an entrepreneur or work as an investment banker or any business-related role, the US has some of the best Universities. The quality of education is very good. The class dynamics, course structure, and professors’ help are unbelievable.
This does not mean every school in the US is good, you will have to pick good schools by doing proper research on them like research facilities, papers published, inventions, alumni, Ph.D programs offered, global ranking, etc. Bottom line, the US has some very good Universities and if it is your passion to experience the education and learn something good and maybe do research, then studying in the US is definitely a better choice.
You will have to consider other things about finances and other things, but if your goals are more about getting a good education and your passion for academics & research is more important than making money and an immediate job, then you should definitely go for it and pick the US for higher education and research. You may also read this article: If studying MS in US, is your goal professor or scientist
Get a Job in the US, make Money, and live the American Dream
Unlike above, there are some international students, whose primary aim to study in the US is to get a well-paying job, and make money. For such students, getting a good education is a secondary focus and getting a job is the main focus.
Such students with these primary intentions, arrive in the US on an F1 visa and try to complete their master’s degree in less time, find a job at an employer who can sponsor an H1B visa, and apply for an H1B visa as soon as they can.
In all reality, for international students coming from Asia to study in the US is very attractive because of the value of a US dollar over their home country’s currency. For instance, the money international students from countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc., make in the US is worth more in their home countries and it can help them send and save more money in their home country.
At the outset, studying in the US and then working in USA logically sounds like one of the better ways to earn money for such international students. Ideally, they can save money in the US and send savings to their home countries like India or Pakistan and create an asset or buy property, etc. You can check where to put your money – India or US Savings account.
To get a perspective on the savings, imagine if you can save a nominal $3000 dollars in the US and send it to India, you can save around $36,000 USD in a year. As of 2022, 36K USD comes to Rs 25,56,000 per year ( 1 USD = 71 INR). Assuming you do not apply for a green card in the US and leave the US after the end of the H1B visa tenure of 6 years, then the money you save is around Rs 1,27,80,000. It is quite a bit of money and probably very difficult for anyone to do that kind of saving working for an Indian company in India. Of course, nowadays companies in India are paying much more salaries, and still US stands out as a place to make money and do more savings.
While all of this sounds very logical and rosy for international students, the biggest catch is getting is H1-B Visa. The demand for an H1B visa has been crazy in the past 10 years or so and you are subject to H1B Visa Lottery to work in the US. Check H1B Cap reach dates history, Lottery years. Also, in the last few years, there have been quite a few changes in the immigration rules and USCIS has put in strict regulations to avoid fraud around H1B visas.
All in all the best case scenario if all your plans go well and you get lucky in the H1B lottery, it is a perfect choice. But, it is life and never luck favors you all the time and not in your control.
Now that you understand the two main intentions, let’s look at what makes sense
As an international student, should I come to the US with the H1B lottery?
It is a very tricky question and there is no right or wrong answer to this. It is very subjective and depends on your personal choice and preferences. Let me be clear, this is just my personal opinion and what I think based on logical reason and experiences.
If you are coming to the US for option number 1, i.e., it is your passion, dream to study, etc. Then nothing should stop you. You are coming to the US for good education and maybe academic research to grow up in an academic career. If you are coming to the US with this option in mind, your focus is education and not looking to make money immediately by settling in the US right after your education. As a reality check, if things do not work out and you cannot get a job for paying loans, you may need to go back to your home country and not regret it because it is good education and you are happy with it.
On the other hand, if your primary goal to come to the US is to make money by getting a job, then you need to be more cautious of the risks associated with it. The reason is, that you are dependent on the luck of the H1B lottery to work in the US. If you d not get an H1B visa, you need to go back and you might be very disappointed as you came to the US to make money as a focus and not education.
To give you a little more context, in the last 10 consecutive years since FY 2014, with the high demand, there was a lottery for H1B Visa. Just to give you a perspective, for 85,000 visas available in a year a total of 484,000 registrations were filed for H1B FY 2023 quota. It means that for 1 H1B visa cap slot, USCIS received 5.69 registrations.
The bottom line, you have to think in terms of Cost Vs Earnings. Because your intention is to make money, you have to see when will you get your money back. What is your Return on Investment? etc. If you want to take a chance, then you should be able to take the risk.
What is a less risky option to Work in the US: L1 to H1B?
If your primary goal is to work in the US and not education, one of the safer options for international students or professionals is to get a job at large multinational companies like Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, Infosys, Cognizant, TCS, etc. in their home countries and then come to the US on L1 visa as an internal transfer.
After you arrive in the US, you can apply for an H1B visa during your L1 Stay in the US and convert to H1B visa from an L1 visa. This is a much safer option as you can see what is going on. But, there are always pros and cons to everything. You may become complacent at times and never take a big risk to transfer to an H1B visa.
Overall, you need to be very clear on your reasons to study in the US, if it is good education or make money. If your goal is to make money only, then you can consider other options like moving internally within an MNC company over studying in the US as it is more predictable than H1B lottery. Talk to your friends, seniors, elders and take good advice from them and make a wise choice.
What are your thoughts ?
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