Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Archive

As you search for information about studying in the United States, you can enter in the search box below some key words or a question you would like an answer to, or you can look in one of the nine categories of most frequently asked questions listed below. If you speak Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian or Portuguese, please select your language from the pull down box below, and you will see these topic areas change to the selected language.

US Government-sponsored Exchange Programs
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The Future Leaders Exchange is a federal government program that provides opportunities for high school age students (ages 15-17) from Eurasia to spend a year in the United States, living with a family and attending a U.S. high school. American Councils'placement organization works with local coordinators in communities across the United States and through those coordinators, finds appropriate family and school placements. Local coordinators lead a pre-arrival orientation with the host family, a post-arrival orientation with the student, and provide monthly reports on each student's behavior and adjustment. More information at

Here is a comprehensive list of all foreign Embassies in the U.S.

We would suggest you get in touch with the EducationUSA advising center to learn more information about the programs they may have.
USCIS has recently announced major changes that will affect the F-1 students. The information below briefly outlines each change. USCIS continues to release updates on the new OPT provisions.

New deadline for applying for post-completion OPT

F-1 students can now apply for post-completion OPT up to 60 days following their program completion date. Keep in mind, however, USCIS still adjudicates I-765 applications within 90 days, and 12 months of post-completion OPT can only be used within the 14 months following the program completion date. Therefore, it is still best to plan ahead when applying for OPT.

Additionally, all OPT applications must be properly filed within 30 days from the date on which the ISO recommends the OPT in SEVIS. If the OPT recommendation in SEVIS is dated more than 30 days prior to the USCIS receipt date, the application may be denied.

Limits on periods of unemployment during post-completion opt

As of April 8, 2008, F-1 students on post-completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment for each period of OPT at each academic level. STEM students on 17-month OPT extension (see Page 2) are given an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over the entire post-completion OPT period. Periods of unemployment during post-completion OPT prior to April 8, 2008 will not count. Current interpretations of the new provision do not outline unemployment limits for pre-completion OPT.

Students who exceed the unemployment limit may be denied future immigration benefits which require valid F-1 status. The new provision also allows ICE/SEVP to terminate student records based on excessive unemployment.

17-month extension of OPT for STEM degree-holders currently on OPT

The one-time 17-month OPT extension applies to F-1 students currently on OPT based on completion of a degree earned in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields; the new provision allows for a maximum of 29 months of OPT. USCIS created the extension so that employers may have a chance to file H-1B petitions, on behalf of STEM students, in two consecutive fiscal years if necessary.

In the United States, each academic degree program or major has an accompanying Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code. For F-1 students, the CIP code is used in SEVIS as confirmation of the academic degree program or major name. A student’s CIP code must appear on the STEM Designated Degree Program List in order to be eligible for the 17-month OPT extension.

To check your eligibility, locate your CIP code on the top of page 3 of your Form I-20 and review the STEM Designated Degree Program List

Since you have not completed a university degree you will probably have to start as an undergraduate student. There is funding for overseas students. Several hundred colleges and universities will offer some scholarships. The following are some websites you can do some research for funding. To get the most current information about US institutions that offer scholarships to international students, we invite you to visit the EducationUSA advising center nearest you.


Scholarship search engines

Scholarship and loan research network

Access information on scholarships, fellowships, internships, grants and loans.

Scholarship database

Comprehensive information on aid for college and university study.

Partial list of awards for undergraduate international

The following are some websites that you can do research to find colleges & universities:

University Search Engines

Applying to American colleges and universities is a long process, from 12-18 months. The deadline for submitting all documents can be three to nine months before the intended start date of study. Students should research and make a list of schools that they intend to apply to, as it is important to apply to more than one school. This list should consist of schools that fit their academic profile, as well as schools that are considered a stretch and schools that are considered safe. Students should try to look past the “big name” schools (like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) to the many other universities that might be a better fit and will offer a good education. Students interested in studying in an English as a Second Language program will have to demonstrate a clear need and prove that language learning options at home have been exhausted.

To find an educational advising center in your area please visit our EducationUSA website.
IIE has had some connections with Youth for Understanding International Exchange (YFU), which is a non-profit educational organization which offers opportunities for young people around the world to spend a summer, semester or year with a host family in another culture. Their main site is

One other organization you may want to look at for some information is the International Au Pair Association.
Cultural Academic Student Exchange (CASE) is a full member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET - advisory list.

CSIET is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to identify reputable international youth exchange programs, and it's one we recommend people check before enrolling - or paying for - exchange programs. CASE is also a State Department Designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor, so it should be reputable.
Accreditation is a status which indicates that an institution or program is accomplishing its mission and meeting the standards of a non-governmental association and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future. “Recognized by the US Government” means “delegated by the US government to assess and certify the quality of an institution an association accredits.”

Most authoritative source is at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation ( Also, see “If You Want to Study in the US” vol 3 (on-line, in different languages).
There’s a Humphrey Fellowship that provides working people in developing countries with financial aid. Studies should aim at graduate programs in the U.S. For more information, please visit the Humphrey Fellowship website.

Can’t find your questions answered in these FAQs? Click on the Ask an Adviser button below to contact your local EducationUSA Advising Center.