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Why Students Need a Migration Plan

International students studying here in Hawai’i often wish to stay in the United States after finishing their degree, but most of them do not end up staying. Why? One major reason is that they failed to understand the actual requirements for obtaining a work visa and so did not take timely, effective actions to turn their dreams into reality. In other words, they suffered from a failure to plan.

This is not to say that international students are not smart enough to master the information and figure the immigration system out. Far from it – these are successful scholars with degrees in business, engineering, the sciences and the arts. But visa requirements are very specific, and the timing is critical. And there are a lot of independent variables: the actual date that graduation occurs; obtaining a qualifying job offer from a willing sponsoring employer; visa quota issues; family needs and travel requirements; financial support; and careful utilization of your Optional Practical Training period. And during this same time you may be weighing alternative opportunities as well in your home country or in a third country. If things do not line up while the window of opportunity is open, even the brightest graduate can miss their chance.

So our advice is this: If you are planning to stay, you need a plan that works, and you should start planning today. Learn how the system works in specific terms. Get to know the specific requirements of the visa that fits your needs. Lay out a calendar time-line and identify the key milestones and deadlines you need to hit in order to succeed in obtaining that visa. Find the best sources for reliable information about the process. Remember that good information is knowledge – it empowers your decision making; but bad information is not just distracting, it can be disabling.

Get proactive and create a migration plan that works for you. We have some resources to help you, but in the end, you will have to take control of the information, make good decisions, and take timely actions. And if you want to do a quick “reality check” on your plan, stop by one of our Monthly Visa Information Workshops, and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

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