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Any experience with F1 visa?

Any experience with F1 visa?

Old Jun 20th 2013, 6:28 pm
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Default Any experience with F1 visa?

I'm new to the forum, so firstly - hi guys!

I want to go to Community College in the US and I have been thinking over the interview process. There are a few complications which I am concerned about.

Background
I got made redundant around 1.5 years ago and thankfully got a nice settlement. My fiance in the UK works away for 6 months of the year, so I decided to take time out, think about what I wanted to do and took three nice, long, 2.5 month holidays to California. (My best friend lives there).

I already have a Psychology degree (grad. 7 years ago) and have always wanted to get into HR Management; but over the years, I've been stumped because employers also want to see some Business qualifications above A Level.

I can't get a second student loan in the UK to do an undergraduate in Business or HR. I can't afford a Masters. There's no point in doing A Levels again, because I need something higher than this.

So, I found a Community College in California and the course is perfect. They dedicate an entire module to HR and another one to Management. They also include an internship with a HR department as part of the study. It's low-level enough not to be too US-Specific and I feel that showing I've studied abroad will help my CV.

Concerns
However, I've heard that getting an F1 for community college; especially with an existing Bachelors, can be tricky?

My other concern is the fact that though I'm well traveled and have visited other countries, my last three consecutive holidays were in the place I want to study. Is it reasonable or foolish, if asked, to say that I genuinely was travelling, staying with my best friend and her husband and looking into College options?

I know that they also tend to ask why you want to study in that particular area of the US, or at that College. The honest reasons are that the course is perfect, I'd have a free place to stay and I'm comfortable with California after visiting as a tourist. Being a community college, the classes are small, the competition for admission is low and the tuition fees are very reasonable. Again... are these useful or silly reasons to give?

If any of you have had F1 visa interviews, especially tricky ones, or ones for Community College, I'd really appreciate your advice!

Thank you!
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Old Jun 20th 2013, 7:08 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

They mostly just want to see you have tuition in the bank plus living expenses/housing without the need to work.

Got to show you don't have immigrant intent to, so whatever you have to go back to.
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Old Jun 20th 2013, 8:33 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
I decided to take time out, think about what I wanted to do and took three nice, long, 2.5 month holidays to California.
I don't want to take this too far off topic, but if your travels were within the space of 12 months, you likely crossed over the IRS' substantial presence test and must, therefore, file a US tax return. Yes - even if you were just a tourist!

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Old Jun 20th 2013, 8:43 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by ian-mstm View Post
I don't want to take this too far off topic, but if your travels were within the space of 12 months, you likely crossed over the IRS' substantial presence test and must, therefore, file a US tax return. Yes - even if you were just a tourist!

Ian
If she had worldwide income above the threshhold set by IRS, yes.

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Old Jun 20th 2013, 9:01 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
Concerns
However, I've heard that getting an F1 for community college; especially with an existing Bachelors, can be tricky?
Whether or not you get the visa will depend on the totallity of the circumstances. The biggest concerns that you will need to deal with are to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the US for the duration of the course (both tuition costs and living expenses) and that you will leave the US at the end of the course (ie you do not have immigrant intent). Provided that you can show those things and can give a simple and succinct explanation of why the course that you want to take makes sense then you shouldn't have too much trouble.

My other concern is the fact that though I'm well traveled and have visited other countries, my last three consecutive holidays were in the place I want to study. Is it reasonable or foolish, if asked, to say that I genuinely was travelling, staying with my best friend and her husband and looking into College options?
If (and only if) asked the question it would be not just reasonable, but neccesary, to tell the truth and (very) foolish not to. So, if the reason for your trips to the US was the one that you stated then that would be a good answer ...

I know that they also tend to ask why you want to study in that particular area of the US, or at that College. The honest reasons are that the course is perfect, I'd have a free place to stay and I'm comfortable with California after visiting as a tourist. Being a community college, the classes are small, the competition for admission is low and the tuition fees are very reasonable. Again... are these useful or silly reasons to give?
I am not sure that they actually will ask you those question but, if they do the those appear to me to be perfectly good answers.
If any of you have had F1 visa interviews, especially tricky ones, or ones for Community College, I'd really appreciate your advice!
A friend of mine did something similar a few years ago (although he did not already have a degree) and studied at a community college in California for 2 years. He did not have any problems getting an F-1 visa.
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Old Jun 20th 2013, 9:03 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by ian-mstm View Post
I don't want to take this too far off topic, but if your travels were within the space of 12 months, you likely crossed over the IRS' substantial presence test and must, therefore, file a US tax return. Yes - even if you were just a tourist!

Ian
Hi Ian

9 months of total US time over a 20 month period. In any given 12 month period, I haven't stayed over 180 days.
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Old Jun 20th 2013, 9:12 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
Hi Ian

9 months of total US time over a 20 month period. In any given 12 month period, I haven't stayed over 180 days.
You might still meet the substantial presence test
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 5:47 am
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

I presume you are going to use this Community College degree in the UK as proof of Business qualification higher than A level - a criteria you say is required by employers.

However, from what I understand a Community College Associates degree (taken over a 2 year period) is not much more than A level standard.

Certainly, in the US, a Community College degree will not stand comparison to a 4 year University degree in Business studies - the minimum most students here would aspire to in order to obtain the better jobs. Many students use the Community College's two years as a stepping stone to University.

With your BSc in Psychology I really don't see how getting this type of degree helps you. Would an Associates degree from the XYZ Community College in the US even be credible to a UK employer?

I think you should save whatever money you have from your settlement and look at doing a Business degree in the UK.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 6:29 am
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

I was thinking the same.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 12:39 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

I did a little more reading based on what you said. Perhaps I do need another Bachelors Degree after all. It would certainly make me eligible for a higher-paid job.

To get into HR Management, I need a qualification above A Level in Business, plus some experience. Since the course offers an internship, I could get both of the things required in two years.

But I did discover that this college is one of the colleges that is eligible to transfer you to a University to complete one extra year and obtain a Bachelors in Business (in either the UK or US). I hadn't considered that option before.

The settlement I received 1.5 years ago is gone now (when I said it was nice; I was talking £5k nice!). I can't afford to do a Business Bachelors in the UK. It costs around £27-32k for 3-4 years. The Associates is only £6k for two years. And as I said, I can't get into a Business Bachelors over here, because I don't have the right A Levels.

I could take A Levels here whilst working, but that would mean two years of A Levels plus another 3-4 years of University before I can even get into HR. Getting an Associates and transferring over here would only take 3 years of study in total. I do want to come back - 2 years is long enough to be away from my Fiance.

After what you've said, I think a better plan of action would be to take this Associates Degree, then work for a year when I get home, perhaps as a HR Assistant, save up the approx. £9k tuition fees, and transfer to a University in the UK to complete the final year of my degree.

Thanks for your help on this; it's given me a fresh idea.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 1:07 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
I did a little more reading based on what you said. Perhaps I do need another Bachelors Degree after all. It would certainly make me eligible for a higher-paid job.

To get into HR Management, I need a qualification above A Level in Business, plus some experience. Since the course offers an internship, I could get both of the things required in two years.

But I did discover that this college is one of the colleges that is eligible to transfer you to a University to complete one extra year and obtain a Bachelors in Business (in either the UK or US). I hadn't considered that option before.

The settlement I received 1.5 years ago is gone now (when I said it was nice; I was talking £5k nice!). I can't afford to do a Business Bachelors in the UK. It costs around £27-32k for 3-4 years. The Associates is only £6k for two years. And as I said, I can't get into a Business Bachelors over here, because I don't have the right A Levels.

I could take A Levels here whilst working, but that would mean two years of A Levels plus another 3-4 years of University before I can even get into HR. Getting an Associates and transferring over here would only take 3 years of study in total. I do want to come back - 2 years is long enough to be away from my Fiance.

After what you've said, I think a better plan of action would be to take this Associates Degree, then work for a year when I get home, perhaps as a HR Assistant, save up the approx. £9k tuition fees, and transfer to a University in the UK to complete the final year of my degree.

Thanks for your help on this; it's given me a fresh idea.
http://www.open.ac.uk/

You can work in the UK as well as study, not so in the US.

The total for the US will be much higher as you also need to support yourself with no, or very little income.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 6:10 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

You've got a degree already.

That would get you into uni in the UK. You just need to speak to admissions and see what they want.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 6:59 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
I can't get a second student loan in the UK to do an undergraduate in Business or HR. I can't afford a Masters. There's no point in doing A Levels again, because I need something higher than this.

So, I found a Community College in California and the course is perfect. They dedicate an entire module to HR and another one to Management. They also include an internship with a HR department as part of the study. It's low-level enough not to be too US-Specific and I feel that showing I've studied abroad will help my CV.
I've got to say that sounds like you're trying to come up with a reason to be in the US, because any HR degree in the US is going to be grounded in US law, the basics of things like the Civil Rights Act, EEOC, OSHA, etc. are bound to be at the core of it and that won't be of much use outside the US.

I think you'd be better off doing an MBA in the UK, it's expensive for a reason.

Anyway the point is that it might also sound to the CO that this is what you're doing, coming up with a reason to be in the US because you've got friends there. So have evidence of non-immigrant intent, F-1 requires you to have a residence abroad. And the sufficient funds requirement obviously.

However, I've heard that getting an F1 for community college; especially with an existing Bachelors, can be tricky?
There's no law against it, just sounds like you're trying to stay in the US for some ulterior purpose and it does sound as though you are at first blush.

Is it reasonable or foolish, if asked, to say that I genuinely was travelling, staying with my best friend and her husband and looking into College options?
7.5 months is a long time to be looking at college options, once again, you need solid proof of non-immigrant intent.

The honest reasons are that the course is perfect, I'd have a free place to stay and I'm comfortable with California after visiting as a tourist. Being a community college, the classes are small, the competition for admission is low and the tuition fees are very reasonable. Again... are these useful or silly reasons to give?
That bit of it sounds okay - except that the course isn't perfect.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 7:03 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

Originally Posted by krafty View Post
Hi Ian

9 months of total US time over a 20 month period. In any given 12 month period, I haven't stayed over 180 days.
On the subject of taxes, if you're F-1 (or M-1 or J-1) you should be filing an 8843 every year with the IRS. Failure to do so may mean any money you receive from abroad is subject to taxation. On the other hand as you're a "mature" student, it might make sense to be resident in the US for tax purposes as your parents aren't paying for it.

Read IRS publication 519.
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Old Jun 21st 2013, 9:39 pm
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Default Re: Any experience with F1 visa?

I'm not sure how the UK system works, but in Oz, you can do a graduate diploma if you already have a Bachelor degree and would like to change careers. The idea is to basically take just the major sequence in a single year. Most people with an existing degree don't want (or need) to sit through an entire undergraduate programme to grasp the new field. This may not be as cheap as you would like, but it's certainly the quickest and most direct approach.

I think your chances of getting a visa for this are very slim. Try looking up helpmeplease123's posts - I believe a similar plan failed for her (although she did have a US partner as motive, then had better luck later with a Masters programme).
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