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5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Foreign Student in the US

1. Working without employment authorization invalidates your status rendering you illegally present in the US. As a student you are eligible to work 20hrs a week during the school year and full time during summer break. Exceptions are made for student who face economic hardships that change their financial situation after enrollment e.g death of sponsor. These students can apply for employment authorization through their schools international student office.

2. Droping out of school has the same effect as no. 1 above. The typical reason for droping out of school is lack of adequated fees. This can be remedied by negotiating with the school on how you will pay for your schooling. Some schools will facilitate a payment plan that will allow you to pay for your fees in installments. Seek out grants and scholarship even if they might only partially pay – better something than nothing! If you have to drop out then make sure you return within 5mths when USCIS is more likely to consider reinstating your student status.

3. Failing to maintain lawful status has huge repercussions that include:
- If you intend to apply for a green card in the future, there will be a possibility it will be denied if you have ever been out of status. There used to be an exception, 245(i), that allowed applicants to pay a fine to have this err overlooked but that was terminated in 2001.
- Jeopardising your approval for the year of practical training you are entitled to after school.
- If you end up having deportation proceedings brought up against you and they succeed, then you will be denied entry into the US for 3yrs or 10 yrs depending on how long you were out of status.

Don't drink and drive

4. Partying too hard is not the reason you are in the US, school is, so simmer down. There is absolutely nothing wrong with partying but just like anything else, you do it too much and it has a domino effect. Too much partying leads to slacking in school, slacking in school means bad grades and potentially being kicked out. Go ahead party but keep it to a minimum and concentrate on what brought you here in the first place. If you can do both equally hard then carry on!

5. Drinking and driving do not go hand-in-hand so cease and desist from ever getting behind the wheel when you have consumed any amount of alcohol. This behavior will most certainly land you in jail and a foreign student with a record is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot!


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No Comments

  • By Fimbo, May 2, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    Most kenyans who head to the states to study have no money…it goes without saying that they will violate their status. 4 and 5 are obvious no nos

    When caught between a rock and a hard place, opt for numero uno

    it is the least of all evils

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 11:18 am

    @Fimbo:No doubt that is the case to a large extent here in Australia as well. However, I think, now that we are so many and have so many varied experiences we can definitely begin to think about AND IMPLEMENT some sort of community wide programs and practices that will help ease the burden of these disadvantaged folks who show up in the West so they can focus on going after their goals.

  • By majonzi, May 2, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

    In the US after your first year of school you can apply for an economic hardship work permit. (it’s $300) I don’t know anyone who has applied and not got it. It allows you to work 20hrs a week off campus and 40hrs/week off campus during school breaks. The permit lasts year and is renewable. Best thing, you can find a job anywhere that pays more than a campus job. Hardest thing, is writing the letter. Basically, you have to prove that your financial situation has changed– be creative! Anything from a younger sibling is going to college so your parents are stretched out to parents economic status has changed– loss of property, jobs, demotion.. etc.. .Refrain from saying your parents are dead coz they might want a death certificate.

  • By majonzi, May 2, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    *they above refers to Immigration. Oh, your school, international student office, will have to sign off the letter … btw, even a shortage of jobs on campus is a legit cause for getting a work permit.

  • By acolyte, May 2, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

    Peeps are put to work at the CNA/call centre or gas station ASAP when they get here so point number one is moot. The point is not to get caught
    Dropping out I have seen and heard of happening, some people have managed to get reinstatement after a long hard fight though. Most dont even bother going back.
    DUIs have brought many a Kenyan down out here, most peeps dont listen when they are warned or you find even the designated driver himself/herself drinking. At times I do think its the stress of being undocumented out here that drives Kenyans to the bottle, in fact that is another post in itself. Kenyans and their love for pints.

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    @majonzi: Here in Australia, fortunately the work permit you described is the default work permit. That doesn’t stop a lot of people here from going way over 20 hours. However my guess is that the whole work permit thing was devised so that people don’t go to work at the detriment of their education and there are quite a few people here who have managed to balance the excess work load of 20+ hours with their school and had no problems with authorities. In short, I think the message can be summed up, IF YOU ARE HERE TO GO TO SCHOOL, MAKE SURE SCHOOL COMES FIRST AND YOU DO WELL IN SCHOOL and make everything else secondary.

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

    @Acolyte: I agree, a post, and an investigation, of why we drink so much is definitely necessary. Here down under there are a lot of people who do nothing with their spare time (no church, not even partying) but drink in a variety of locations.

  • By gal africana, May 2, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

    I’m really not surprised when I hear of Kenyans sabotaging their lives abroad in all sorts of ways. When you think about it, most of us left the confines of our parents homes, where our parents decided and run and paid for everything, and end up in the US where we suddenly have 100% say in what goes down. Most of my friends in Kenya, the boys especially, used to drink themselves silly, all the time, and in all manner of places…why should a continental relocation miraculously cure that habit? Most of those I went to high school with, went to UNI because that was the next natural step…not because they were focused and in tune with their “GOALS”…why should those same people miraculously become focused when they go abroad?
    Most of the Kenyans abroad, also have to contend with families who require that they not only work to pay for fees and their own livelihood but that they send cash home….
    The problems arise waaaay before Kenyans leave home. These issues need to addressed among parents and grown kids at home before they leave the country.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Secret to Working Beyond the 20 Hours Per Week Work Limit » The Displaced African — May 14, 2008 @ 3:32 am

  2. What Everybody Ought to Know About Immigration and Njeri’s Guest Post » The Displaced African — June 20, 2008 @ 2:08 am

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