Category Archives: Greenhandshake Blog

International Student – On Campus Employment Process

On Campus Employment is perfect for international students who need extra money and experience.  However, employment in the US is not enough to defray the cost international tuition and schools expenses.

The Process of on-campus employment for an international student is similar to ordinary US citizens.

Step 1 – Job application through the school employment website. Visit the school career services to help you navigate the website, explore internship opportunity and write resumes.

Step 2 -Landing an interview. There is no magic bullet for this step and purely based on luck especially if there are 200 applicants. If you get an interview schedule, prepare and do your best.

Step 3 – Hired for the job.  If the manager decides to hire you, inform him or her that you are an international student.  Certain jobs (such as work-study) are not meant for overseas students. You can be hired if there are no restrictions.  Ask for a job offer letter which should contain your name, hiring department information, job description, hours of work per week, and requested starting date.

Step 4 – Get the recommendation letter from the DSO/International Advisor. Bring the job offer letter to the DSO to request for this recommendation. It should include verification of good academic/legal status and DSO recommendation that the job on campus is in fact appropriate for international students.

Step 5 – Obtain a social security number. Bring your I-20 (or DS-2019), passport, visa page, I-94, driver’s license, student ID, and birth certificate in English.  The birth certificate is not required.  However, the social security office asks for it. It will take between 2-4 weeks for this process. Inform your hiring manager right away.

Step 6 – Finish the Hiring process. You can now finish the HR process just like anyone else after receiving your social security card.



* International students can only work up to 20 hours per week during semesters. You may work full time during summer or holidays.

* Working foreign students must file tax returns.  This will not affect your status as student.  However, it can affect the adjudication result for change of status in the future like changing to H1b or Green Card.

* What is considered an On-Campus Job? All school-supported employment opportunities are on-campus jobs.  A vendor or third party entity serving school students is considered on-campus employment.  For example, international students can work in Starbucks in the school cafeteria.

* International Student Social Security Number is for on-campus employment only.  You can only work off campus if you have an Employment Authorization Document (for OPT or CPT). Never use the EAD to find work outside the campus or you will be caught.  Such violation can lead to immediate deportation. International student’s SSN usually starts with “7” or “8”. It means you cannot apply for financial aid.  Some financial aid counselors are confused with this.  Please do not try to exploit the system. If the USCIS finds out, you will be in very deep trouble.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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How to Survive in the US – Housing for International Students


This post focuses on issues related to students and housing. Education is a luxury without food and shelter. Many students go to the US yearly without preparing for said concerns. Students should consider these two aspects before making travel arrangements.  

This will not apply to you if you have a relative in the city where you will study.  The location should be near the school and accessible to public transport.

* Home Stay or Host FamilyI relish the host family because I stayed with them when I studied in the US. The experience was great since they treated me like their own child. Majority of host families enjoy the company of foreign students.  It is more of passion than money.

* On-campus housing/student housingThis usually calls for sharing a room with another student.  The rate is more expensive compared to other housing type.  However, it provides a good environment and convenience of staying close to the campus. The school is within walking distance. This is not ideal if you have dependents and pets. Rental terms are from August to June but do not cover summer.

* Off-campus housingThese are private apartments located in cities where you study.  Prices vary widely. You must consider costs, security and location. Some students prefer to share two or three-bedroom apartments with other students. This can reduce costs but be very careful in choosing roommates. School officials do not intervene in case of scams and quarrels.

These are things to prepare for if you will rent apartments:

* You need to apply. Not all universities provide housing services. 

* Most apartment owners demand social security numbers. The SSN applies only to US residents. Explain to the property manager that you are a foreign student without an SSN.

* A security deposit is required prior to reservation for security of the owner.  The fee will be refunded at the end of your school-year lease. Cost of damages will be deducted from this deposit. International students have 0 credit scores. In short, you will likely be required to pay twice or thrice the regular security deposit which is a normal procedure.  The deposit can go up to $2000 depending on the place. It is more expensive in New York.

* The monthly rent for apartments may or may not include utilities and furniture. Make sure to ask the owner about this.

* The move in date is generally on or before the date of your arrival in the US so you have a decent place to stay.

* Look for the most convenient location. It should be near the university and grocery shops. You have more options if you will have a car.  Otherwise, on-campus housing will be the best choice.

* Read your contract terms carefully to avoid problems and scams.  This usually happens in off campus housing because schools have no control over these units.

* Consider transportation such as relatives or airport pick-up services during your first day in the United States.

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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Obtaining a Driver License in the US

skip-long-dmv-line-renew-your-drivers-license-aaa-office-instead-no-membership-required.w654You can drive a motor vehicle in the United States provided you carry a driver’s license from your home country and an International Driver’s Permit (IDP).

It is necessary to secure an IDP in your home country before going to the US since the US Government does not issue this license to non-residents.

Definition of International Driver’s Permit

The IDP is proof that you have a valid driver’s license in your own country. It is translated into 12 languages so police and other law-enforcement authorities from other countries can understand the license’s contents. The IDP is a special license with provisions on road safety authorized by the United Nations conventions and signed by 180 countries.

How to Obtain an IDP?

The process varies and depends on the government that issues the license. Contact the Department of Transportation or Department of State for inquiries. See to it that any agency that you have approached for assistance is legitimate. Verify this with any government agency.

You will be required to fill out an official form and submit two passport-size photos. Applicants must be 18 years of age and possess a valid local driver’s license. There is a minimal fee but driving tests are not necessary.

The IDP cannot be post-dated, extended, or renewed. It may be valid only for one year from the date of issuance. Your driver’s license must not expire during that period. The unexpired IDP and driver’s license are requirements for driving in the US.

Never procure IDPs online.

Online services are not legitimate and unacceptable in the US. Check with the local license provider for guidelines.


US Driver’s License

It is imperative to secure a US driver’s license if you do not have a local driver’s license or have been staying in the US for more than one year.

Driving Schools

In some states, driving schools can assist students in getting the driver license. However, they must complete the written test for learner’s permit and practice in driving skills.  Students do not need to take the driving test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if they undergo this process.

Learner’s Permit

The initial step in securing a US driver’s license is to apply for a learner’s permit. This will allow you to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed driver. The objective here is to learn road rules sufficiently and pass tests for approval of your driver’s license. The DMV provides information about obtaining and using a learner’s permit. It has an expiration date. You need to secure a permanent license before this temporary permit expires. You are compelled to go through the steps from the beginning if the permit expires.

Permanent Driver’s License

Applying for a permanent driver’s license requires applicants to a driving test, written knowledge examination and vision test. Make sure to submit all required documents. Bring your own car with valid registration and insurance during the driving test. The DMV website explains the appointment process and needed set of papers.

Sue J Liu – Chief of Marketing

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Finding Sponsors for H1B Visa

Business concept image of a businessman clicking Sponsoring button on virtual screen over blue background


Are you planning to apply for the H1B visa? The USCIS has started accepting petitions for the H1B Visa since April 1 every year. Here are the possible questions that applicants may have:

* How do students look for sponsors?

* How can individuals with H4 visa in the US find sponsors?

* How can individuals with L1 Visa and move to H1B Visa?

* How to obtain a complete list of companies that sponsor H1B Visa?

* How to avoid fake enterprises claiming to sponsor H1B visa?


Multiple options for possible sponsorship

There are different ways of finding H1B Visa sponsors?

* Databases of H1B  firms that sponsor visas

* Internship that leads to acquiring H1B Visa Sponsorship

* Consulting Companies (Be careful since this may be fraud)

* H1B Sponsorship through universities in the US


Sponsors Database

This is a very direct/hit and miss method of finding H1B Visa sponsors. The US Department of Labor publishes Labor Condition Application (LCA) information every quarter including the list of sponsors. You need to review the website of the department and Foreign Labor Certification Data Center. However, the information is in MS Access format or large text files which are difficult to read. 

There are some websites like My Visa Jobs, Visa Square, H1base that use said Database and information in a more user-friendly format. It contains contact information of corporations that have sponsored H1B visas. You can contact these companies directly. 

Check some websites like:


IT Companies

These companies recruit international students and professionals for possible work in the USA. Said institutions sponsor visas for professionals with experience in China, India, Vietnam… or recruit talent in the US.  The objective is to make contacts and determine requirements and obtain sponsorship.  They always look for students and professionals with experience in preferred fields. The salaries may not be very high but you will definitely get the sponsorship. 


If you are in the final semester of your MS or MBA, one alternative is to search for internship or co-op. You can use the labor department’s database for the list of authentic companies.  It is important to be careful before making a final decision for internship. This is not a problem in big American cities where there are startup communities and many foreign students.

Consulting Companies

Consulting firms used to be the main sources of sponsors for H1B Visa sponsorship before modifications were made to the policies. This came about in 2011. Unfortunately, some companies abused the H1B Program which prodded the USCIS to introduce numerous changes. These were meant to prevent cases of fraud. In fact, many fraudulent H1B companies were prohibited from sponsoring H1B Visas. The labor department says you should not pay any fee. The point is to be cautious and conduct due diligence before committing to any consulting firms. Seek the assistance of knowledgeable colleagues to know more about these companies.

H1B Sponsorship (American Universities)

Many academic institutions sponsor these visas for international students based on academic qualifications or experiences.  You will not be included in the H1B Visa cap with visa sponsorship.  However, you are not allowed to transfer your H1B visa to other companies. It may only be transferred to a university/college or research institution.  

Son Hoang Nguyen – CEO/ Founder

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