In Canada, the type of degree you achieve depends on the type of institution you attend. In the United States, it is much different. Students can receive a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree from a college or university. There are no diplomas and very few colleges offer graduate certificates.
Moreover, unlike students in Canada, students in the United States have the ability to work during their studies (up to one year of co-op) as well as after graduating.
Below is a step by step chronology, starting with student enrollment and ending with the opportunity of applying for citizenship.
- Student enrolls.
- Student can work on campus in any part-time job for up to 20 hours a week during the semester, and up to 40 hours a week during holidays / breaks.
- Student has 90 days to find a job after graduating, so it is recommended that they search and apply before graduating.
- If Student is successful in finding and securing full-time employment in their relative field, they have the right to exercise OPT (Optional Practical Training) for at least one year. This means that they can work in the United States for a limited and specific time without a Visa.
- Please note: Non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students have the option to work in the United States without a Visa for one year while STEM students have three years. All international students have the right to exercise this option.
- During OPT or after its completion, the company Student is working for has the option to apply for H1-B Visa, which is a lottery visa for new foreign workers. There is cap of 65,000 for all new H1-B applicants, and the number of applicants each year is over 250,000. Thus, the U.S. government does a lottery where only 65,000 applicants get this Visa. Keep in mind, if Student was a STEM major, the company has the option to apply for H1-B for 3 years whereas for non-STEM majors can only apply for one year. (If the student does not get the H1-B Visa, there are other routes that the company can take.)
- After successfully receiving H1-B Visa, the student can now work for an additional eight years in the United States. During these eight years, the company will apply for students for their Green Card, which takes about a year. After receiving the Green Card, Student can now work in the United States for at least 10 additional years.
- After five years from receiving the Green Card, Student can apply for U.S. citizenship!