Going to the US is set to become much simpler for students pursuing an advanced degree, such as a masters in physical sciences, technology and engineering thanks to the introduction of a new category of student visa, the F-4.
The Senator Arlen Specter's Immigration Reform Bill, currently being discussed by the US Senate Judiciary Committee proposes a new category of student visa (F-4) for students pursuing higher studies in mathematics, physical sciences, engineering and technology. In '04-05, there were 80,466 Indian nationals studying in the US. Of these, 57,976 were at the master's level. Senator Specter has some good news for all foreign students, irrespective of the course of study.
The Bill proposes to allow all students on an F visa to be eligible for off-campus employment unrelated to the field of study if they maintain a good academic standing and the employer attests to the educational institution and the department of labour that it has spent at least 21 days recruiting US citizens to fill the position and will pay the greater part of the actual or prevailing wage. Off-campus employment will be limited to 20 hours per week during the academic term and 40 hours per week during vacation periods and between terms. At present, international students on F visas are not allowed to take on off-campus jobs. While such a move would help international students tide over the college years, the Specter Bill proposes to raise the period of optional practical training from one year to two years.
At present, students graduating from US educational institutions can work for a year, even as they continue to hold a student visa, in a job that is related to their area of study. This would be applicable to all international students on an F category visa. The new category of F-4 visas would be valid for an additional year after the completion of the graduate programme, while the individual seeks full-time employment related to the field of study.