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Greenhandshake is a trusted community marketplace for new US arrivals to connect, find local help of the same ethnic group, offering us to live smarter.

Reasons Immigrants come to the U.S

The story of immigration is deeply rooted in the country’s history. In a very long time, the United States of America opened the it’s doors to people looking for religious freedom and greater economic opportunities along with “the wanderers, adventurers, fortune seekers and the persecuted”. Immigrants made new homes and founded America, right from the very start. Many were drawn to the opportunities of free society and flourished in the country’s creative openness. America was, and remains to be a variable of cultural and ethnic groups.

One popular belief is that about 20, 000 years ago, the people from Northeast Asia were the original inhabitants of the United States. It was also believed by some, that these wanderers were the ancestors and founding population of what we see today’s Native Americans. By 1500s, the great European migrations, ruled by the French and Spanish, had started founding settlements in full hopes for new opportunities in the “Promised Land”. Many settlers came to America to seek greater economic opportunities and fortune in this new country which they thought to have infinite resources. The majority of these settlers hail from Asia and Europe. Meanwhile, several people from the Caribbean and Africa were taken to the United Stated and worked as forced labourers in the process of building new nation.

Europeans were considered the first immigrants back then however unlike the immigrants of today, the first European immigrants behaved differently – they isolated, attacked and even executed the Native Americans. Even though, the Native Americans couldn’t fight back using guns and firearms, they did everything they could in order to defend themselves.

Whenever an American citizen complains about immigration, we can see that there’s always a touch of irony. Without a doubt, everyone in this nation is a descendant of immigrants, except those whose origin is of pure Native American. America has gained its territory predominantly by means of violent and dishonest removal of its indigenous population. And yet, Americans perceive that this “promised land” is theirs alone and maintain the idea that it can be harmful, worse, immoral for other nationalities to enter the land.

So, you have probably wondered – why do people immigrate to the United States?

Truth is, immigrants chose to immigrate to America for many different reasons. The most common reasons include escaping oppression or poverty, practice beliefs and religions freely, live in freedom and make better lives in a richer part of the globe.

Some of us already have our family members or relatives residing in the United Stated, and we desire reunification. So one of the main reasons for immigration is family pull. A family-sponsored immigration allows a U.S citizen to sponsor his foreign-born parent, minor, spouse or unmarried children and siblings.

Other immigrants come to America for employment opportunities. Young people trend to leave the poorer side of the glove in search for better job opportunities in richer part. An employment-based immigration allows a United States employer to sponsor a person for a certain position where there’s a demonstrated absence from American workers.

But, prosperity is the genuine reason behind the immigration. For many years, economic growth has transcended population growth which gives the country more prosperity and people. To simply put this, the strong desire to make a better life and what America has to offer are what drawn people from all over the world to immigrate to the U.S.

Son Nguyen – CEO/ Founder of Greenhandshake

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Ways to Socialize as a New International Student

As an international student, your first day in school is always kaleidoscope of feelings. There is the excitement of experiencing new things and more to come. There is too, the feeling of nervousness in meeting new people from another culture. Most of all, you are determination to start classes on the right foot. The new semester in a new place means a novel opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and the challenge to try new things. You know these are important things to do when you are traveling in another country. You want o to develop a social life that can be challenging when you travel alone. Thanks new technology, you are just a click away from your loved ones.

Students today are equipped with many tools to join new organizations or learn new skills. There is no excuse for staying away. It is true that in a foreign country, you will have difficulty in finding the right niche to fit in but then this is part of your task and it can be fun!

Student Union on Campus

In the United States, most colleges or universities maintained a building they called   “the union.” This centralized venue is the place where most social events in the campus are held. It is usually a high traffic area for students conglomerate in this place. If you are interested to join a group or do things for the weekend, you drop by your on-campus student union and you will find what you are looking for. Some student unions maintain bowling alleys; operate small movie theaters and manage restaurants for your pleasure. Even without your own vehicle, the student facilitates finding something for you to do and to socialize!

An App for anything you need

In your search for something interest to do, technology becomes your ally and best friend. Use your app to get connected to events nearby or groups in the proximity, etc. Equip your mobile phone with Meetup, a great app where you can start creating an interest group and be joined by people around your town. If you need a ride, another great app is Uber that is replacing public transport in certain places. They arrive on call and their fees are easy on the budget. Uber drivers operate their own cars and will give bring you to your destination for a fare that is a fraction of the cost of a taxi.

Like it in FB, Tweet what you do and Snap it

Social Media has greatly transformed the meaning of communication. As your career is taking an upward direction, it is important to relax after stressful days and enjoy. Facebook lists the events happening in your area and will remind you of its sked. Twitter account has list of clubs near the campus or groups around campus to follow and join activities. With Snapchat, you can preview the event before you go that way.

Ask your housemates

In a live on-campus, you come across hundreds of people every day. Some people are like social butterflies for they join all activities while others prefer to hang around a couple of pals. However, it is in the halls of your resident building that you hear all news of going-on or learn about the fun and nightlife happening during the weekend. It is also the ideal place to start as people around are also looking for something to do! You are all in the same wagon, trying to look for, explore and try new things.

Now that the place for you to start is settled, you know the direction. Get up from your bed and watching Netflix; learn a new dance move and enjoy happy memories of your exciting time as an international student. Make sure you are ready to go out there with confidence attending an event or joining a group. You have everything to gain, your only lose is the boredom of staying home.

Mike Lee – Social Media Assistant

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Potential Loss of School Accreditation – Impact on F-1 Students, Even After Graduation

Taking effect on May 10, 2016, the STEM OPT extension regulation included a new provision requires school F-1 student attending the accredited school. The regulation specifically stated that the following requirement:

  1. The degree serving as bases for the 24-month OPT extension is from an educational institution in the United States and accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.
  2. The accrediting agency must be recognized by the Department of Education at the time of application.

Very recently, one of the accrediting agencies recognized has been given notice that its Department of Education recognition might be lost. On September 22, 2016, both the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) were told that their approval may not be renewed.

The loss of this agency recognition would mean that for F-1 international students, who already graduated from ACICS accredited schools, would not be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training). The 24-month extension is no longer applicable unless the school attended is able to obtain accreditation from an agency duly recognized.

There might still be good news for affected students as the decision is not yet final. ACICS plans to appeal for positive decision and while on appeal, the agency is recognized by the Department of Education. The issue needs close monitoring.  For more information, students may consider directly contacting their schools to know the school plans to resolve the situation in case of accreditation ultimately loss

They have to clarify if losing the accreditation now will affect those who have earned their degrees from these schools with applications of immigrations who have taken as master capH-1B and the petition in I-140 for the green card process. USCIS has to look back to determine whether the school has been accredited at the issuance of the degree. Those concerned are hoping that the loss of accreditation if it does happen will not be considered as retroactive to degrees already granted.

Students who graduated from schools accredited by ACICS should watched developments closely especially if they are planning to file an H-1B petition next April for a master’s degree.

About STEM OPT

Foreign STEM students are allowed by OPT to prolong their studies in their stay in the US after completing 6-12 months studies under a student visa. Hey used OPT to either look for jobs or apply for further education or simply wait until OPT term expires. Former President Barack Obama planned to extend the same to over three years but with the election, he ran out of time.

New US president Donald Trump’s had no plan for the extension of the STEM OPT. Standing for  to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM grads could benefit immigrant-friendly nations like Australia, Canada and New Zealand, among others.

However, not extending OPT by Trump does not affect students going to top schools like Stanford or MIT for their graduates are given priority in securing jobs after graduation. The impact hits students going to tier-2 and tier-3 universities in the US.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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How to Live Off-Campus as an International Student

Living in the room of the University residence halls deprives you of your privacy. You feel crammed sharing a bathroom with twenty other students. If you want your privacy, it is time to look for a place outside the dorm. Again, it might not be easy but it could be done!

You need to prepare and make certain decisions. Remember you have to fulfill some responsibilities: like doing your own laundry, learning how to prepare your meals and setting up your cable or internet. Here are some tips on starting to search for your own place:

Find roommates

If you cannot afford to pay your own place, a roommate can take off 50% of your load. You can recruit some of your friends to live off campus with you. Living off campus gives you the opportunity to learn to handle responsibilities and assume the role of an adult. Using your Math, you will realize that the more roommates you have, the lower the cost for a bigger house will be. Plus enjoying the the benefit of having your own room and bathroom.

Start an early search

Do you know that the 20 people sharing your bathroom in the dorm might also be thinking of finding their own place with friends? So you have competition, start an early search! Landlords know which units are available by February or March every year and give leases as early as May. The internet is the best place to start searching. Companies like CORT helps students to find apartments near campuses. Your school might also recommend certain landlords or apartment complexes nearby as upperclassmen move out.

Which is better – house or apartment?

A home has bigger space but it demands great responsibility. Living in a school dorm frees you from various payments in running a household. Under “Room and Board,” your payment covers everything. Your meals, utilities, furniture, and others are all included. Renting a house or apartment is a big decision. Ask yourself these questions before you make a decision.

Can you assume all these responsibilities?

Houses are more expensive to operate as they require more energy to cool during summer and warm up during winter. In a house, your obligation in utilities include: electricity, gas, sewage and water, electricity, gas, and sewage.

An apartment is cheaper since most apartments already include water and sewage in the rental. You pay for electricity. In either case, you have also to set up your internet.

Are there enough friends to fill in a house?

A house is rented out with only a single lease. If one of your recruits decided to backs out, you will have to fill in that spot or divide the cost with the others. Unless you can recruit another friend, all your share of the rental will be increased.

Is the place near the campus?

Houses near the campus are more expensive and most are apartments. Decide how far you want your place to be? Biking to the campus is convenient. However, are you willing to bike or to drive your way to the campus? Remember the changing weather patterns especially in the place where you live. Biking in bad weather is never fun.

Do you want plenty of space?

Houses are spacious and give you the luxury of having your own yard. In an apartment, only a wall separates you from the neighbors. But a house needs more work and expense to maintain. You have to mow the lawn and clean the gutters. In an apartment, it is often the landlord or leasing office that takes exterior care of the building.

If you live off-campus, will it be a house or apartment?

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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