Why Taking A STEM Degree Is A Good Idea For Prospective International Students Wishing To Study In USA  

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Why Taking A STEM Degree Is A Good Idea For Prospective International Students Wishing To Study In USA  Why Taking A STEM Degree Is A Good Idea For Prospective International Students Wishing To Study In USA : When majority of people think of coming to study in the US, they really don’t have an idea of what happens after they graduate in terms of Job opportunities and immigration papers. Most assume things will be alright. After all, it is USA-the land of honey and milk!

 

Well, that is the mentality that I also had when I started preparing to come to United states for my master’s degree. All I wanted was to find a school that could accept me for any degree that I deemed fit. I didn’t care much about post-graduation job opportunities. I thought that I could easily find a Job with any degree that I studied.

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It is very true, that you can find a Job with any kind of degree that you study, but the BIG question a lot of people do not know about is whether it will be easy to get work immigration papers with the same degree that you possess.

 

I came to the US to study an MBA with a concentration in professional accountancy. I had a Bachelor of commerce degree in Accounting and Finance from back home and I had some work experience as an accounts clerk and as a bank teller. I thought with such an employment and education background, it would be very easy for me to get a Job after I acquired my master’s degree. After all, this is America…right? Well I was totally wrong!

It took me four months of fruitless internships search in my last semester, and a couple of months working in a fast food, to realize that the qualifications I had would not take me where I wanted to be. I had to seek some IT training in order to re-align my qualifications with the demands of the US market and that is how I ended up becoming an IT consultant.

Before I landed in America, I had no idea what STEM was. So, what is really STEM? STEM is acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. In every economy across the world, a STEM degree is highly coveted. Same with the US. The US government highly value those international students with a STEM degree and I will shortly tell you why.

 

One thing as an international student you need to understand is that, the US government actually loves retaining smart international students, in order to grow its economy. In fact, the US government has work visas specifically for those smart people who have the skills that most Americans do not possess. The truth of the matter is, what the current administration doesn’t like and is fighting so hard is those folks who are in the country as undocumented and have  no education at all. They would be more than happy to retain brilliant brains who can propel the country to greater heights to help compete with the likes of China and other western and emerging economies.

When you come to the US as an international student, you are given an opportunity to work after you graduate. You can apply for a post-graduation work authorization called OPT (Optional Practical Training). This work authorization gives you an opportunity to find work that is related to your degree qualifications. For example, if you graduate as a nurse, you can only find employment using your OPT to work in the nursing industry. You cannot work as an associate at an Amazon fulfillment facility just because you have the work authorization. If you do that, you will be violating your immigration status as an International student which can have some nasty consequences later on. The last thing you want to do in this country as an international student is to screw up your immigration status and credit worthiness. Make sure those 2 are intact as you pursue your American dream. Very very Important!

 

One of the most obvious advantages of having a STEM degree is the available job opportunities. It is believed that STEM occupations continue to grow at about 30%  rate by 2025. That is incredible! Regular occupations are growing at a 7% rate, according to bureau of labor statistics. What this really means is that, you are more likely to find a Job if you possess a STEM degree.

 

As an international student who wish to stay in the US, after your graduation, you should always think of how to get your immigration papers. STEM degree holders are given extra 2 years of OPT if they can find an e-verified employer to give them a Job. Regular degree gives you only 1 year of OPT. Now, you may ask, why is this a BIG deal. It is a big deal because, for you to get immigration papers, your sponsoring employer can either file for you a H1B visa petition or an employment based greencard, and your OPT affects your probability of getting H1B or employment-based greencard. Most International students will go through H1B route first because it does not require years of work experience like the greencard. Meaning you can graduate from university with zero experience and get H1B work visa. The problem with H1B visas is that, there is a limit to the number of visas offered by the government every year and the visas are not enough to meet the huge demand, especially from Indians who unsurprisingly mostly possess STEM degrees.

 

The US gives a maximum of 85,000 H1B visas with 65,000 of those going to those with undergraduate degrees and 20,000 going to those with master’s degree from US institutions. For the last 5 years or so, the petitions from employers have exceeded the available visas and therefore the USCIS has been doing a lottery to pick out the winners.

The earliest your employer can file for your H1B is on April 1st, and the cap is usually filled in the first week of April, meaning, if you miss out the first time, your employer can only file for you again the following year, April. If you only have 1 year of OPT, you are locked out because it means, you have to go back to school in order to maintain your immigration status as an international student! Can you imagine going back to do another program just to maintain your status as an international student? Other than the obvious huge cost of going back to school, the other major problem with this is that, you can also not get another OPT if you study in the same education level. For example, if you graduate with a master’s and you again enroll for a master’s you will not qualify for another OPT. This can put you in a very awkward position because, in order to work for any employer, you need some sort of work authorization. I can cover this topic of how to maneuver this issue on another day!

So what does this mean to those with a STEM degree?….It means that as a STEM degree holder, if you are not picked in the lottery,  you can use your remaining 2 years of OPT to continue working for your employer for 2 more years as you keep trying your luck in the H1B lottery pot. Also, at the same time, you can accumulate enough experience that can actually make you qualify for an employment-based greencard which means you can start the greencard process after about 2 years of OPT work experience.

 

So, if you are out there as a prospective international student who want to stay in the US after graduation, think about STEM degree. Do not just take any degree for the sake of it. There are thousands if not millions of immigrants who came to the US as international student who do not possess the right immigration papers which has forced them to do jobs that do not pay them well. Most of those folks wish they knew how to figure out how to get immigration papers through employment early in their school life.

 

Most people, before they land in this country, they don’t pay much attention to immigration papers, but once you land in the US you will realize why that is a BIG deal. Immigration papers is the topmost challenge immigrants face in this country.

By Bob Mwiti

About me;

I am the founder and managing director of Appstec America-A consulting company that helps immigrants find education and job opportunities that are abundant here in the United States.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of.

For inquiries about my international scholars programs & IT training programs, you can check out my personal website at www.successwithbobmwiti.com

You can also email me at success@successwithbobmwiti.com or call +1 813-573-5619 ext 402 for a FREE 30 minutes consultation. Also, we can connect if you “like” my Facebook page by the name Bob Mwiti or subscribe to my YouTube channel by same name Bob Mwiti

 

Why Taking A STEM Degree Is A Good Idea For Prospective International Students Wishing To Study In USA  

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