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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.

What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)


What is Optional Practical Training? It is more of a benefit for F1 students who plan to take a Bachelor’s degree in the Land of Promise. OPT opens the door for possible employment in the student’s subject of learning. The training is given approval by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

Overseas students (F1 Visa holders) who wish to apply for this program should first complete the OPT’s web-based workshop. This covers vital details related to eligibility requirements, application schedules, reporting prerequisites and other relevant matters. Forms for OPT application will be given at the end of the online seminar. There are F1 rules restricting unemployment period students can accumulate during the training. This is a maximum of three months.

On the other hand, the Employer information Update for Optional Practical Training is meant only for learners approved for this kind of training. This is where the F1 students can submit employer information, modifications in employment or unemployment period. The Office of International Services will propose that updates regarding employers will be done as soon as changes in employment are made. As a rule, F1 students may be granted 12 months of OPT.

As a background, the Department of Homeland Security approved an extension of 17 months to this practical training program for students who have been declared eligible for STEM or disciplines in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This terminology is adapted in addressing curriculum selection and educational policies to enhance competitiveness in science and technology advancement. Approved major subjects are listed in the website of USCIS. However, the Immigration Reform Law Institute has challenged the legitimacy of this extension in the US federal courts since then.

One of the requirements is for the student to decide in taking the OPT while attending school or right after graduation. It can also be a combination of both. F1 students are usually permitted up to one year of full-time training for every educational level. This is undergraduate, graduate or post graduate. In case the student opts for the pre-completion training, that individual cannot work for more than 20 hours each week while studying. However, permanent work is allowed during vacation or when there is no school session.

The student’s post completion OPT will be cut by one month for every two months of part-time (pre-completion) training by engaging in pre-completion practicum. Students who finish with any STEM degree and currently engaged in an approved training (post completion) with any STEM degree is qualified to seek an extension of the OPT.

If you have gone through the guidelines explained above, it is time to find out if this F1 Optional Practical Training will be ideal for you. Applicants can look for the complete procedures and legal obligations on the website of Immigration and Custom Enforcement. At the same time, you can check out Greenhandshake’s site at for more help. GREENHANDSHAKE is a reliable online community marketplace that helps immigrants in the United States especially students connect to their peers.

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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Things to know about F1 visa for international student



The United States government grants the F1 visa to international students attending academic programs (English Language) in American colleges or universities. However, these students should maintain minimum course loads for full-time learners. You can stay in the US for another two months after the visa expires to finish your academic curriculum.

An exception is if the student applied for and given the go-signal to work within a prescribed duration under the Optional Practical Training agenda. All F1 students must finish their schooling upon expiration as stated in the I-20 forms. This Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status is provided by the academic institution and states that the student was accepted and confirmed attendance.

What are the Visa qualifications?

The first is foreign residence and intention to return upon completion of the program. The overseas student is only allowed to study in the school where the Visa was given. Applicants need to show proof of adequate financial subsidy. The Study USA Financing Guide can assist overseas students regarding this matter. At the same time, candidates have to demonstrate solid relationship with their home countries. These “ties” include letter of job offer after finishing the course; assets such as real estate and vehicle; bank accounts; and, continuous family support.

Schools have varying admission pre-requisites. The university or college admissions office will notify candidates adjudged as academically qualified. Students may be asked to show evidence of financial capacity as well as health insurance for possible hospitalization and medical expenditures. The school will release the I-20 document so the candidate can apply for the student visa.

Applicants can apply at the American Embassy or Consulate near to their permanent residence. Otherwise, you may find it hard to become eligible if you file an application outside the country of your permanent dwelling place. The requirements consist of a non-refundable fee for application; Forms DS-160 which is the online form for non-immigrant visas and 157 for males who are 16 to 45 years old; valid passport (six months and beyond) for travel and stay in the US; and, colored digital photograph (head size should be 22 x 35 mm) and plain white background. The photo must have been taken during the last six months.

An interview is required to establish whether or not you are fit to be awarded the F1 student visa. See to it that you arrive on time and bring all necessary papers and receipts. Make sure that you can answer all questions regarding this decision to study in the United States. Questions will include academic qualifications together with choice of university or college. Keep in mind that educational expenses in this country are higher compared to other nations. The consular officer will certainly be asking about your overall previous performance as student.

Those approved will be asked to pay a fee for visa issuance while fingerprint scans will be obtained for record purposes. You may pick up the F1 visa or this can be delivered to your residential address.

Check the website of for more details that can help facilitate your application.

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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Greenhandshake: Find Off-Campus Housing for International Student


One of the biggest challenges that every international student faces upon arrival in college is finding suitable accommodation. If you have previously lived, or have family or relatives in the US, they can help you deal with any housing issues. For overseas students, however, things are a bit different.

Greenhandshake is a community marketplace with years of experience which enables people, who have just recently arrived in the US to connect with others in the same situation. It’s also amazingly helpful, as it allows for international students to get in touch with people from their own country, who have already been living in the US. The local people can provide invaluable local advice, when it comes to finding accommodation, rent guidance and any sort of housing issues.

Greenhandshake has one of the most interesting and successful systems of connecting local people and international students. If you’re looking for advice, information or just someone to talk you though stuff, you can post your task and wait for other users to bid. Greenhandshake’s motto is that there is no small task and you can ask for pretty much anything – from information, through help with complex immigration issues, up to a lift from the airport!

No matter how prepared you think you are, moving to a different country is always challenging. Different lifestyle, laws, and customs, as well as the language barrier can lead to confusion and even culture shock, and many students feel like there’s nobody they could talk to about these feelings. The innovative marketplace Greenhandshake strives to fill exactly this niche by connecting newcomers with people who have already established their lives in the US. This unique service provides guidance, advice, information and help to young people and international students upon arrival in the USA to help their smooth transition into the American society – and so far, they’re doing an amazing job at it!

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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How to live like an American does


American flag

Life in this cherished country is not all a bed of roses. In short, life in the USA is not easy. If you are an immigrant, there are many adjustments to be made and difficult challenges to cope with. Blending with the American culture cannot be done overnight. Aside from traditions, immigrants must become familiar with the fast and urban lifestyle. On top of this, it is essential to adapt to American food, clothes, language, religion, and laws.

Another major concern for an immigrant is how to deal with culture shock. This is the feeling of bewilderment that people go through once introduced to a new way of life. This is aggravated by sadness, clamor for the company of family members, identity loss, vulnerability, and lack of self-confidence. Suddenly, the immigrant is a stranger in a country which seems to be very modern and co-workers or local students are indifferent. Culture shock, if not resolved, can prove to be your downfall.

How do you resist culture shock and adjust to life in the USA with less pressure? Bear in mind that your life is very normal. Living in the US is just like residing in your own country. Keep in close contact with your next of kin and friends. This is not a problem because of computer technology, the world-wide web, mobile gadgets, and social media. Look for food that is familiar to you. Consume a healthy diet. Seek out your countrymen and make friends with Americans who share the same hobbies and interests that you have.

Look for the support system that you need. If you are a foreign student, this will probably come from the International Students Office or Admissions Center that can be found in all universities and colleges in the US. These facilities make easier transition of overseas students from their home countries to the United States. There are orientations sessions at the start of the school year to familiarize freshmen and new enrolls with the way of life in American academic institutions.

New acquaintances, academic advisers and guidance counselors can also provide this kind of assistance. Besides, immigrant students are always welcome to join campus organizations or take part in social activities that can take away home sickness.  These are good venues for making friends among different students. Indeed cultural disparities and language impediments can be the toughest challenges for international students or even workers in the USA. Homesickness is another big issue.

Greenhandshake can help you out. The young advocates of this unique organization are willing to help colleagues who still have to get a feel for the American way of life. Newcomers can seek the help of immigrants (students or professionals) who have already settled in the US. Greenhandshake can also give valuable information about the requirements that new students must fulfill during their first year in an American school. Browse the website and go over It will certainly spell a big difference for the new immigrant student.

Son Hoang Nguyen – CEO/ Founder

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