May 21st, 2013 by Ross Mason
For many international students in the United States, the capstone to their US education comes after graduation when they are allowed to work legally in the US for up to a year on the optional practical training program, or OPT. For those lucky students in a STEM field – science, technology, engineering or mathematics – the period can be extended to up to 29 months. However, the right to work on OPT is subject to many rules and limitations, but it is still one of the best parts of an F1 student visa!
So how does an international student go about getting a job? In addition to normal difficulties that anyone has when finding a job, international students have other struggles. Many employers do not regularly hire non-US citizens and they may not know what is involved. For example, some insurance plans will not let OPT students on their policy so students will need to purchase OPT insurance coverage. Alternatively, some employers simply cannot afford the additional expense of hiring a student on OPT or sponsoring a worker on an H1B visa. So, a critical part of any OPT job search is targeting employers who have the will and the resources to hire OPT and H1B employees.
There are online resources that can help you identify companies that regularly hire employees on OPT and H1B. Particularly if your goal is to be sponsored for an H1B visa after you are done with OPT, it is important to find a company that regularly sponsors H1B employees.
The foreign labor certification website published by the Department of Labor has great data available to anyone interested in H1B and other employment programs for non-US citizens. Of particular interest to job hunters is the comprehensive data by quarter on LCA filings – these are the filings that an H1B employer needs to make. You can download the latest spreadsheet directly from this page http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm, sort by employer, and you’ve got your list of active H1B employers.
Good luck with the job hunt!
May 14th, 2013 by Ross Mason
Each month, as a resource to the international student and international education community, we report on the changes to the US State Department Travel Warning list that occurred in the previous month through our blog. This quick overview summary at the beginning of each month keeps you up-to-date with the latest changes, without bogging you down in having multiple emails or notifications each time there is a change to the list – and it removes the need to have to visit the US Department of State Website each time you want to know about the very latest updates.
The updates we post monthly can be found by visiting our category page at:
Like any blog, we offer a convenient RSS and Email Feed option (which you can find in the sidebar to the right of this post), allowing you to receive updates on all our posts as we put them online. However, with a neat little tool/ website call IFTTT you can now receive just our travel warning summary emails on a monthly basis. IFTTT stands for IF This Then That, and if you have never heard of it before its excellent at helping you organize things and notify you of changes.
In this example, to get our monthly travel warning summary emails simply:
- Sign up for a free Account at IFTTT
- Use our IFTTT Email Recipe we created for our travel warning summary emails
- That is it!
Now each month as we post our summary email, IFTTT will email you a copy – a quick and easy way to receive our monthly travel warning email alert! You can even go as far to modify the recipe further if you wish and it can post to Facebook, or Twitter.
If you have any questions let us know, but hopefully you find this very useful!
May 10th, 2013 by blindblom
Have you thought about studying in New Zealand? If so, you’re in good company. In the 2010/2011 academic year, 2900 US students studied abroad in New Zealand according to the latest “open doors” report, but students from around the world have been choosing to make New Zealand their host country and rightfully so.
New Zealand is packed with friendly natives, crisp blue water, the chance to ski and surf in the same day, and landscapes to appease any taste. It’s a location that many individuals long to visit, let alone study in.
If you plan on becoming an international student in New Zealand it’s required that you apply for a student visa. While you do not need to show proof that you have health insurance at the time of application, you do need to declare that you will purchase health insurance for international students in New Zealand for your entire duration of your studies there.
If you are trying to find a few options when it comes to health insurance for international students in New Zealand you might want to check out the following three plans:
ISL Euro: This plan offers medical coverage to those traveling from Europe and also includes enhanced travel insurance benefits as well. Also, if you want a plan that is priced in Euro, this is the option you have been searching for.
Atlas Travel: The flexibility of this plan is what many students studying in New Zealand are searching for. You can choose your coverage amount and deducible which allows you to pick a combination that is within your budget.
Student Secure: Many students choose the Secure Secure plan not only for the comprehensive coverage it offers, but also because this plan allows students to make monthly payments.
To find more on health insurance for international students in New Zealand you can visit here or contact one of our agents for assistance today.
May 6th, 2013 by Ross Mason
If you are looking to come to the USA, the J1 visa is one of the more common visa categories that will let you work, study and spend up to 1 year (possibly more depending on the program) in the USA. The J1 visa is a student visa, so its not available to everyone, but offers you the opportunity to become an exchange visitor as either a short-term scholar, au pair, intern, camp counselor, international visitor or under the work and travel program. For more detailed information about the J1 visa, please see our full explanation of “What is a J1 visa” to learn more about all the categories in more detail.
Each year over 170,000 students come to the USA on the J1 visa, making it one of the larger visa programs and it is immensely popular. To start the process of applying for a J1 visa, you will need to first find a sponsor who will guide you through the whole process – there is a full list of designated J1 visa sponsors on the US State Departments website and it is highly recommended that you only contact one of the approved sponsors first who will guide you in the right direction.
As part of the application process, you will need to attend a J1 Visa Interview where the immigration officer will ask you a range of questions about the program you will be undertaking. One of the biggest points to remember is that the J1 visa is a short term visa, and not designed to be a visa for long term stays in the USA. Therefore during your interview you will most likely be asked about your plans while in the USA and will probably need to show proof that you will return home after your program.
Also as part of your visa application, and an integral part of any travel experience, you will need to show proof of health insurance coverage. J1 visa insurance plans are very common, and in most cases your sponsor should help you find the right plan for you. If this is not the case, or you prefer to locate your own insurance coverage there are certain levels of coverage you will need to meet as outlined in our health insurance requirements for the J1 visa article. This comprehensive article outlines all the coverage and benefit limits you need to meet.
If you need assistance with locating coverage, or have questions about the J1 insurance requirements please do not hesitate to contact us for more information as we are more than happy to assist you.
May 3rd, 2013 by blindblom
The May 2013 travel warning shows the warnings posted throughout the month of April by the U.S. State Department. If you will be traveling please ensure that you are aware of the current situation within your host country and you follow the May 2013 travel warning safety suggestions accordingly.
Travel Warning in Lebanon- Issued April 1, 2013: U.S. citizens are urged to avoid all travel to Lebanon. The risk of spontaneous violence- including kidnappings within Lebanon remains high. Additionally, the ability for U.S. governmental personnel to reach those in need is very limited.
Travel Warning in Pakistan- Issued April 9, 2013: A warning for travel to Pakistan remains in effect. It is warned that all U.S. citizens postpone non-essential travel to Pakistan since there are still frequent terrorist attacks against civilian, government and foreign targets. Additionally, terrorists seek to attack locations where westerners are known to visit.
Travel Warning in Colombia- Issued April 11, 2013: The Department of State reports there are thousands of U.S. citizens that safely visit Colombia each year. While U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted due to their nationality, they are still advised to be cautious as narco-trafficking continues to affect the safety of visitors.
Travel Warning in Sudan- Issued April 16, 2013: U.S. Citizens are advised to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, Blue Nile and the Southern Kordofan states and to be cautious in other areas of Sudan. Both local and international news should be monitored closely while traveling anywhere in Sudan.
Travel Warning in Burundi- Issued April 22, 2013: This travel warning is to replace the warning issued November 8, 2012 and to reiterate the dangers of travel within Burundi and that the security restriction on embassy personnel is still active. U.S. individuals may also be of particular target for terrorist attack.
Travel Warning in Democratic Republic of the Congo- Issued April 24, 2013: Due to the ongoing instability and violence, travel to the city of Goma and the province of North Kivu is strongly advised to be avoided in non-essential situations. Additionally, it is important to be aware that U.S. governmental personnel services to U.S. citizens is extremely limited within this country.
While traveling, please keep these May 2013 travel warnings in mind. Additionally, travelers are advised to enroll through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date on travel security information.
April 26th, 2013 by blindblom
Many colleges and universities in the US have health insurance requirements that attending students must follow. When it comes to international student health insurance for Palm Beach State College, this situation is no different, students must have a plan purchased before registration. Palm Beach State College allows their international students to choose their own plan, however, it must meet specific requirements as determined by the college. If you are an international student, before deciding on and purchasing a plan, you will want to find a plan that includes each of the requirements your school asks for, then compare each of the prices and benefits of plans under consideration. Since these requirements can change from year to year, make sure you have the most up-to-date Palm Beach State College waiver form so you know what benefits you need.
One plan option when it comes to health insurance for international students at Palm Beach State College is the Student Secure plan. This plan has each of the requirements that Palm Beach State College requires plus additional comprehensive coverage already included. The best part is that it will fit into your budget! The cost of health insurance for international students at Palm Beach State College starts at:
$873.60 for 364 days
If you’re not sure if you can afford the full payment up front, simply choose to make monthly payments during the online application process. The monthly fee starts at:
If you’ve procrastinated for too long and are on a tight deadline to buy your international health insurance, you can purchase the Student Secure plan online, receive same day coverage and have access to your insurance documents right away. After your plan is purchased simply let us know and we will complete your waiver form, then fax it to your school for you.
To have your questions answered when it comes to health insurance for international students at Palm Beach State College contact one of our agents today!
Approved stamp photo courtesy of Shutterstock
April 12th, 2013 by blindblom
There are a number of great schools within Finland that draw students in each year to complete their studies. Some of the most popular schools in Finland include Aalto University, University of Helsinki, University of Turku, Tampere University of Technology and the University of Oulu. If you will be studying within Finland, whether at one of the universities listed or another, you will need to have international health insurance that will meet the Finnish Government requirements. The amount of insurance coverage that you need will be dependent upon the length of time that you are studying in Finland. Below is a breakdown of health insurance for international students in Finland.
Students in Finland for less than two years
- A deductible of €300 or less
- Coverage of at least €100,000
Students in Finland for more than two years:
- A deductible of €300 or less
- Coverage of at least €30,000
Three plans that international students in Finland purchase to meet the government requirements include:
The Atlas Travel Plan- With this plan you can choose your deductible and coverage amount, this gives you the ability to pick coverage that will match the needed government requirements and your budget. This is the most popular choice for students who will be studying in Finland since students can have the plan for up to three years outside the US.
The Student Secure Plan- You have three comprehensive levels of coverage to choose from with this plan, each one will meet and go beyond the Finnish government requirements. Benefits include maternity, mental health, repatriation of remains, emergency medical evacuation and hospitalization.
ISL Euro- If you are on a tight budget and prefer a Euro priced plan then the ISL Euro may be the best option for you. This plan also has three options for student to choose from- no matter which one you pick they will each meet your mandatory requirements of health insurance for international students in Finland.
If you would like more information on health insurance for international students in Finland contact one of our licensed agents today.
*Finland map and words photo courtesy of Shutterstock
April 5th, 2013 by blindblom
Just in time for Spring, our international student insurance plan updates for 2013 are complete! The Student Secure plan and Atlas Travel plan now offer even more comprehensive coverage for the new 2013-2014 school year at a reduced rate, meaning it is going to give students access to great international insurance options. Both plans have received enhancements offering greater coverage with less out of pocket expense- not only does this provide students with more coverage for less- but now we meet even more school’s insurance requirements. Some of the plan change highlights include the following:
Student Secure Plan: The Student Secure plan is the most sought-after student insurance plan that we carry, and for many reasons. It provides coverage that will meet most school insurance requirements, and goes beyond the coverage basics with benefits like maternity, mental health, organized sports and pre-existing condition coverage.
Each of these levels are now available to those who have a valid F1 or J1 visa- even if they aren’t a full time international student or scholar! Also, the Budget and Select level have both expanded their sports coverage and include even more intercollegiate, intramural and interscholastic sports.
- Deductible reduced to only $25 ($50 out of network)
- ER deductible reduced to only $100
- Pre-existing condition waiting period reduced to only 6 months
- Mental health coverage increased to 80% (60% if out of network)
- Monthly rates as low as $52
- Deductible reduced to only $45 ($90 out of network)
- Pre-existing condition waiting period reduced to only 6 months
- Local ambulance and repatriation of remains coverage increased
- Monthly rates as low as $36
- Now includes coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions
- Deductible reduced to $50 when in-network or outside the US
- Monthly rates as low as $27
Atlas Travel Plan: The Atlas Travel plan is a great option for students studying outside the US for up to three years and for individuals traveling to the US for less than a year. The Atlas Travel international student insurance plan updates for 2013 include:
- Up to two children can be added to your plan for free, when two parents are on the plan as well
- Individuals 80+ are now able to receive coverage with this plan inside the US
- Cardiovascular benefit limitation removed
You can still purchase both of these plans right online and receive same day coverage. Find out more on the Student Secure, Atlas Travel plan or the international student insurance plan updates for 2013 by contacting one of our licensed agents.
Woman erasing average photo courtesy of Shutterstock
March 29th, 2013 by blindblom
In the month of March the U.S. Department of State issued seven travel warnings for countries around the world as listed in this April 2013 travel warning report. If you will be traveling, make sure you are aware of countries with a current dangerous or unstable condition warning by checking out the April 2013 travel warning list.
Travel Warning in Syria- Issued March 1, 2013: This warning is to supersede the travel warning issued in August 2012 for Syria. Syria remains consistently dangerous throughout the entirety of the country, through hostile acts, terrorist attacks and kidnappings. Public areas such as shopping plazas and government buildings are amongst the highest targets for terrorist attacks. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus is unable to protect or assist U.S. citizens as they suspended operations in February 2012. Individuals are advised to contact the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus for assistance.
Travel Warning in Libya- Issued March 11, 2013: The travel warning for Libya issued September 2012 has been superseded by this latest warning as this country remains unstable and violent- travelers are strongly advised to avoid travel to Libya in all but essential travel instances. Those who must travel to Libya are advised to have an emergency plan and to remain aware at all times as violence is sporadic.
Travel Warning in Tunisia- Issued March 13, 2013: This travel warning is to replace the warning issued October 19, 2012 to provide updated information on the current status within Tunisia. The ordered departure is no longer in place, however, safety within this country remains unstable with sporadic acts of violence, especially amongst large crowds and demonstrations. Additionally, since December 2012 security forces within Tunisia have conducted raids to confiscate large armed weapons- several individuals have been arrested and one killed during these missions.
Travel Warning in Sudan- Issued March 13, 2013: The previous ordered departure status has been lifted meaning all U.S. government personnel are permitted to return to Sudan at this time. However, the terrorist threat is still critical and U.S. citizens are urged to avoid travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States.
Travel Warning in Guinea- Issued March 14, 2013: Although Guinea has been relatively calm since December 2010, a recent protest turned violent leading to nine deaths and hundreds of others injured. Visitors are warned to exercise caution when in Guinea, stay in contact with individuals back home and to carry their travel documents with them at all times.
Travel Warning in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea- Issued March 14, 2013: A warning to North Korea still remains in effect as serious risks are associated with those traveling to the DPRK. Individuals may be fined, arrested or imprisoned for illegally entering Korea (without a valid passport and valid DPRK visa) or for other illegal acts that may not be considered illegal in other countries including taking unauthorized photos, exchanging currency with unauthorized vendors and unauthorized attempts to speak directly to North Korean citizens.
Travel Warning in Mali- Issued March 22, 2013: As fighting in northern Mali continues so does the travel warning for individuals interested in visiting Mali. Other risks include fluid political conditions and threats of attacks and kidnappings of westerners. Visitors are advised to avoid unnecessary travel, remain aware and to take necessary precautions to ensure safety.
These warnings are the April 2013 travel warnings as reported in the month of March. If you are an avid traveler, check back each month for the latest travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State.
Warning stamp photo courtesy of Shutterstock