Category Archives: Greenhandshake Blog

How to Plan Your US Education

international-student-usa-insuranceGetting an American education is not easy. You have to plan ahead especially if you want to study at the right school. It takes a year or more to plot your course and we’ve listed some advice you will need in making your dream a reality.

* A year in advance, it is recommended that you’ve researched the school you would like to attend. You should have requested for an application form and have a list of other school requirements. You should also prepare your F1 visa. This cannot be processed if you don’t have an I-20. What is an I-20? This is issued by the school that has accepted you to take their program. Once you have this, you can apply for your F1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

* In terms of school requirements, do note that universities have different admissions processes. You may need to take additional entrance exams such as SAT, IELTS or GRE. You have to prepare for these exams approximately a year before you submit them to the school. If the college has a prerequisite or preferred SAT score for example, then you may have to take the exam again to obtain higher scores. This will take months ahead of preparation.

* Other document requirements include school transcriptions, essays and letters of endorsement. Make sure you have allocated enough time to complete the school requirements. Contact your school and have them ready weeks in advance.
Remember to submit your application to the American school on time. Do take note of the deadlines since missing it would be a waste of time. Your application may be considered for the next semester.

* After you have been accepted by a school, prepare for your F1 visa. This allows you to enter the US and stay sixty days after you’ve completed your course. Do expect an interview from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You have to bring all your documents to prove that you are studying in the United States. This may include financial papers to illustrate how you will be paying for your American education. Prepare ahead of time the possible questions and practice.

* Remember it is not guaranteed that you will be given an F1 visa. If you are denied, do not be discouraged. You can apply again but be sure to know the reason of you denial. You may have not presented a particular document or poorly answered a question. Do not forget you are applying to study in the US and not migrate.  Your answers should reflect a sincere desire to obtain an American education.

* Once your F1 visa is approved, you should start preparing for your housing and travel plans. Colleges usually have an international student office which you can contact for housing information. You may also want to be picked up at the airport. The international student office should be able to give you accommodations and provide you with the data you need. It is also recommended that you obtain a health insurance for your stay in the US. Prior to your trip, there may also be immunization requirements that you need.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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How to get an F1 Visa

Passport and US Visa

An F1 visa is a requirement for international students who want to study in the United States. It can be a stressful process but not an impossible task. You just need preparation in order to secure an F1 visa. There are three requirements for qualification that you should meet. This will help you understand the procedure before you pass your documents and face an interview in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


First, it is essential that you prove that you will obtain a foreign residence but you still have ties to your home country. This can be proven by showing financial documents such as bank account information and proof of assets. You may even show a job offer letter and indicate that your parents are still in your home country such as a business permit. This does not only show that you are financially capable of supporting yourself while abroad but also indicates that you have a reason to return back to your home country. Be prepared to be asked about your plans after you graduate. This is a common question since the consulate would like to know what you will do after you obtain your American education. Significantly, migration would be an underlying issue and as a student you would want to avoid casting doubt on your plans to simply study. In spite the fact that graduation is years away, it is important for you to decide on your future as soon as possible. The types of questions you can expect are how often will you visit home and where do want to work? They may also ask if you have any relatives in the United States.


Second, you have to obtain your I-20 from the school who has accepted you. They function as an eligible sponsoring institution. It is important to note that not all colleges can issue an I-20 therefore you must find a school that does. You can ask assistance from your school’s Designated School Official or DSO who has a list of eligible schools that can issue an I-20. The DSO is approved by the USCIS and U.S. State Department wherein they can help you with other questions about becoming an international student. You can expect eligible sponsoring institution questions such as why do want to attend this school or why are you pursuing this degree? These questions are meant to discover your intentions of having an American education. You can offer reasons why you want to study such program such as it not being available in your home country.


Lastly, the biggest hurdle one usually faces in obtaining an F1 visa is to demonstrate financial capability. It is vital that you are able to show that you can support yourself abroad and pay for tuition fees and cost of living. This will require bank information such as a student loan or certificates of amount deposited in the bank. This highlights how you must be able to show proof of funds. Your proof is also necessary in obtaining an I-20 wherein you bank information can be useful. However, if you’ve taken out a loan you may use your loan approval as proof to the school. You can also expect financial support types of questions such as what are your parent’s annual income and occupation.  

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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General Guidelines for International Student Admission: Self-Apply versus Using Agents


A lot of international students shared horror stories about agents. It is time to shed light on this topic.

Myths about applying for college through agents

* Myth: Applying through agents provide better chances for admission.

* Truth: FALSE. It is unethical for schools to treat students especially because of agent referrals.  Many public schools have policies to prohibit the use of agents in admission. They are not allowed to endorse any agents.


* Myth: Agents provide valuable information for Visa Interviews.

* Truth: TRUE and FALSE.  The truth is most of these information is posted on the Consulate’s website and blog.  Majority of all agents do not have resources to attend important meetings and updates with the Department of State. They do not even want to invest in these conferences such as the (NAFSA). Information coming from them is inaccurate at times and therefore not reliable.


When are agents useful?

* Some agents provide beneficial advice to international students.  Decent agents supply valuable information about universities appropriate for students’ needs. 

* Some agents may offer to “help” you with financial paperwork.  These may be dubious personalities. This is not to say that you should not think of studying in the US if you are poor.  However, an agent who will advise you to evade the law will most likely give you unethical advice.

* The good agent is reputable and does not make commissions from both students and universities. They only work with regionally-accredited institutions.


General Admission Guide for US Universities

You do not need an agent to be admitted to any university!

Here are the steps in applying for a reputable US university:

* Find a good US university.

* Apply for admission!

* Provide a copy of your financial document (bank statement within the last 6 to12 months), amount in your bank account must tally with minimum amount for the annual cost of attendance from the school (I-20 price).  This normally includes tuition, miscellaneous fees, health insurance, books, room, and board.

* Submit official academic credentials, transcript and school diploma as required by the school.

* English proficiency document (This is for non-native English speakers)

* Provide a copy of passport information page.

* Provide a copy of your current i-20 if you are transferring from other schools.

This is a minimum list.  Most schools will require an official English translation for non-English papers.  Many banks use English as official business language so this will not be a problem for you. Other required documents are resume, personal statement (essay), professional license (medical/nursing schools), SAT/ACT test results, and GRE/GMAT/LSAT/PCAT/MCAT (graduate and professional schools).

It is not costly to apply in universities. Some schools like community colleges even waive application fees.

The best an agent can do to help is find a school that fits your goals, needs, and budget. They can assist with application forms and documentation. They cannot influence school admission decisions or consulate interviews.  Paying an agent does not mean being accepted in college. It will depend more on the student’s capabilities.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake

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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