So, here we are again, still at Drexel, still managing midterms and still exploring life and Philly. This week I decided to dedicate my story to one important and inevitable thing for any exchange student. And this is visa issues. Yeah, yeah, I can already hear dissatisfied exclamations about boooring paperwork. But believe me, you simply can’t get here without going through that hell and I’m here with newly obtained experience and some insides for you, which I hope will make your experience more convenient.
Without further ado, let’s jump in this topic. The first thing to mention is that even though the process of obtaining an U.S. visa is not one of the most exciting things in life but it is absolutely manageable even without help of travel agencies. After a several step procedure you will get your access to 50 US states + D.C. and even Canada if you gently ask Drexel’s International Office to sign you a paper. However the major problem for me came from a different field. The thing is that a number of European countries like Czech Republic or Poland will grant you the working right without any troubles. Those guys are chill and are absolutely for the idea of you working at least part-time while studying on their land. And that was pretty much what happened to me in Prague. I got my study visa card, turned it around and saw the words that I kinda undervalued that time: “access to labor market – granted”. This phrase opened the door to that study/work lifestyle that brought so many amazing people and experience in my life and simply changes it dramatically.
Now, the U.S. was not such a piece of cake in terms of work from the very beginning. However I still had several options in my mind that could work out. But here I am, almost 1.5 months after arrival and unfortunately I should admit that if you are a study/work guy as me this place is not that great for you. There are basically two facts to face: if you want to earn money off-campus (and I’m talking not only about part-time job, but for example about opening a brokerage account to put 100 bucks in stocks), it’s just illegal. You came here with a J-1 visa to study, so you can just study. If you are getting any income, you are on your way to federal prison (I may exaggerate here, but official emails gave me exactly these vibes). Your second option is working for Drexel or doing an internship connected to your major. Well in the case of Drexel offers, there are two obstacles. First, if you are in Philly only for one quarter as I am, then it is kind of a short period to be hired and secondly, some part of open positions are booked for federal funding program and as an exchange student, you are not part of it. As for internships with a connection to your major, I just found it very hard to get the offer with an appropriate time frame and permission to do it with J-1 visa.
So, folks, I don’t want to demotivate you here, I still wish you all the luck with finding a job while making it as an exchange and I believe in you. I just told you the reality which I faced here after many emails, sent CVs and even a small wonderful gurney to social security office, so you can weigh your decisions better. And don’t forget that online jobs are still right in your laptop no matter what.
I hope you found this article interesting even though it’s less entertaining than previous ones (I’m selfishly assuming previous ones were entertaining) and you will get something from it. All the best and see you in a week.