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The United States is a federal union of 50 states. Its political system is based on the Constitution of 1787. Ideas of the Enlightenment such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state were incorporated into the US constitution. This constitution guarantees political control of the government through the separation of powers between its three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The separation of powers is known as checks and balances and was introduced to ensure that no government branch has too much power.

The United States has long been the top receiving country for international students, due to its higher education, its value on the international labour market, and access to job opportunities in the USA after graduation. About 1.1 million international students were enrolled in U.S. institutions in school year 2019-20.

In 2019-20, one in three international students studied in California, New York, or Texas. Other leading host states were Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Visa Categories

U.S. immigration law has four categories of visas for foreign students and exchange visitors:

  • F-1 visa for full-time students at an academic institution such as a college, university, or high school, or who are enrolled in a language training program.

  • M-1 visa for full-time students at a vocational or other non academic institution.

  • F-3 or M-3 visa for nationals of Canada and Mexico who commute to the United States for full- or part-time study at an academic (F-3) or vocational (M-3) institution.

  • J-1 visa for participants in an educational or cultural exchange program. This visa category includes college and university students as well as physicians, summer work-travel visitors, visiting professors, research and short-term scholars, teachers, and au pairs.

Students holding an F-1 visa are authorized for up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon graduation and become eligible for another year of OPT when seeking a further postsecondary degree at a higher level. Students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are eligible for an OPT extension of up to 24 additional months. Once the OPT period ends, graduates must find an employer willing to sponsor them for a work visa (such as an H-1B visa) in order to continue working in the United States.


Spouses and children of foreign students and exchange visitors can enter the country by obtaining an F-2, M-2, or J-2 visa (depending on the visa category of the student or visitor they are accompanying), though only J-2 holders are eligible to study or work in the United States without obtaining their own student or work visa. After they complete their academic or research programs, international students and exchange visitors may remain in the United States if they are eligible for family- and employer-sponsored green cards, the K-1 visa for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, and some nonimmigrant visas.

Educational Costs: (as per 2022):

Undergraduate / bachelor degree      $20,000 to $40,000 per year

Graduate programs                              $20,000 to $45,000 per year

Doctoral degree                                    $28,000 to $55,000 per year

Cost of living (as per 2022):


Even if  the living and studying costs are high in the US, it is ranked as the best country for international students by UNESCO.


International students can cover their living costs in USA through financial aid, part-time work, or internships.

The estimated living cost for the US is around $10000 to $18000 per year, which averages around $1000 to $1500 per month. This includes your accommodation costs, room, and board, food, travel, textbooks, weather-appropriate clothing, and entertainment expenses as well.

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