Handbook for Indian F1 Students in USA – F1 Student Guide

Disclaimer – This is an absolutely pro bono charitable effort to guide Indian students to the United States without any economic benefit. The content reflects my own experience while living in the United States as an F-1 student. I have not received anything in cash or in kind from any individual/company/association to market their name. If anyone has a problem, please contact rnkapadialaw@mail.com. If anyone thinks anything written here is not true and needs editing, please contact rnkapadialaw@gmail.com.

Essential

Open a bank account – Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are preferred as they are spread across the country – you must provide your passport with your visa, proof of residency and proof that you are a student of an institute ( identity card) – Must be done at the earliest

Zelle – use it for easy money transfer (most banks allow Zelle transfer – just check with them before opening an account)

SIM card – AT&T, T-Mobil and Verizon are good – You can find a friend or relative who can add you to their family plan so that your monthly bills reduce a lot – T-Mobil most of the time gives away a free iPhone or OnePlus or similar gadget if you purchase a particular plan

Credit Card – Using a credit card in the United States is safe and advisable because if there is a wrong deduction you can easily cancel it, which is not the case with credit cards. debit. If you are new and don’t have a bank account in the United States, and no one is willing to issue a credit card in your name, you can ask your friend or relative living in the United States to get a credit card with your common name from their bank. You can later pay for any expenses you incur using this credit card. But remember, if you have a credit card, only use the credit card and never a debit card.

SSN – This is a must to work. Without your social security registration, you cannot work. The process is quite tedious and can take up to 4 weeks. Once you have a social security number, you can do many things, such as work and earn money, apply for certain benefits available to other US residents, including issuing a credit card, or getting a loan, apply for a driver’s license, etc. So it is advised that even to get an SSN, you should get a job on campus at the earliest because it is the only way to get an SSN.

Maintain your F-1 status – Do not commit any illegal act. Take at least the minimum number of credits/units required by your institute. Before leaving the United States for any reason, obtain an endorsement on your final I-20 to show it when returning to the United States.

Chips Express – Affordable courier service to send stuff from India to USA – I paid Rs. 650/kg in Jan 2022

Lugless – send luggage to and from anywhere in the United States at affordable rates

USPS – send anything to and from anywhere in the United States

Study

Dean’s list – you get a scholarship for being on the dean’s list – each institute has different policies so you need to clarify with the administration – Normally those with high marks are on the dean’s list – This is academic recognition as well as an economy benefiting

Scholarship – you can always try to negotiate your scholarship – you can even try to get or increase your scholarship when your grades are out for each semester and if you think they are good

Work in the United States

Work on campus – you are allowed to work 20 hours per week – usually your institute would not allow you to work off campus unless you can convince them – it is advisable not to work off campus – It is absolutely not recommended to work without the knowledge of your institute, it is illegal – working on campus is also safe and above all quite flexible – Try to get a TA or RA position if you want an academic job – During school holidays you can work 40 hours per week

CPT – you can do an internship or work for academic credits taking advantage of the CPT program – you need approval before you start working – you need to clarify with your institute how many hours you can work as this includes your work on campus as well – You can even earn during your CPT

Security in the United States

Registration with the nearest embassy or consulate – as soon as you reach the United States, you must register with the nearest embassy or consulate. This is according to the instructions given on the last page of your passport. This is in order for the embassy or consulate to have your name on file so that in the event of an emergency or untoward incident, you can be in touch with them for assistance.

Save your institute security office number – save their number to your favourites. If there is any concern about safety, call them immediately. They will help you in every way without any objections. I repeat, DO NOT HESITATE. They help you with both physical and psychological difficulties, so take their help.

Tip – Never walk the streets alone at night when it is less crowded. Always keep $5 in your pocket so you can donate if someone tries to extort you. Never argue with someone who threatens you with anything and give everything they ask for. Call 911 immediately when possible. Shout louder than you can for help. Never go out alone at night. Drinking can sometimes be dangerous; if someone mixes a mind-altering substance in your drink, you will regret it for the rest of your life (I’m writing this because it happened to a friend)

Books

chegg.com – rent textbooks for, available for different periods

Amazon – also offers textbooks

Food

HappyCow – you can find vegetarian and vegan restaurants

Doordash – Zomato from the United States

Krogers – Many food products are vegan (just check the “vegan” seal on the packaging)

Hershey’s – all chocolates are vegetarian (by Indian standards)

Ghiradelli – most chocolates are vegetarian (by Indian standards) (just check the ingredients once)

The Cumin Club – You get dehydrated meals at an affordable price (didn’t try this)

Deep – the best ready-to-eat dish – Gujaratis would definitely love it – All products are vegetarian

Shayona Cafe – you get sweets, frozen food etc purely prepared by Swaminarayan sect people – All products are vegetarian – most of them are even 100% Jain

Shef.com – they deliver ready meals to you (didn’t try this)

Instacart – You can order groceries and other food items right to your doorstep

Nandini’s – based in Ville Parle, Mumbai – you can get dehydrated food and even get your own packaged dehydrated food

Rekhaben – based in Surat – you can get dehydrated food and even get your own dehydrated and packaged food

Travel

Uber and Lyft – most used taxi facilities – Some institutes offer special discounts; you should explore — Lyft even offers rental cars on great terms (less fuel costs, no penalty for returning without a full tank of gas, etc.)

StudentUniverse – get the best flight deals – they also link to Amazon Prime Students

Amazon Prime Students – Prime Membership is free for 6 months and after that at 50% of the normal price – you must subscribe using your email id having your institute’s domain name

ZipCar – Car rental – Special rate for students – most universities have ZipCar on campus

Public transport – most institutes offer special discounts or free public transport in the city they operate, so you should explore this – When you are going to use public transport for a week or more, you should get the card and not just a ticket every time – It is easier to top up the card, sometimes you can top up even online which saves your time, sometimes you get a discount for using a card not a ticket – Always remember, having a ticket or swiped card is must, otherwise you can be caught traveling illegally

Discounts

Southwest Airlines – one of the few airlines to allow two full-weight checked bags, one carry-on and one personal bag, with no exceptions – Change origin, destination, time, etc. is also quite easy – All your flights are automatically included in your flight points tally – Even afterwards it’s quite affordable – The best part is that this is an open seat flight so if you check in early you can choose from more seats to sit on

Airlines – Each airline has mileage points you can earn on each flight, with some restrictions specific to each airline’s policy – United Airlines is a member of Star Alliance. So you can redeem the miles with other Star Alliance airlines

Dollar Tree / 99 Cents – each product is for 1 USD

Costco – If you want to buy things wholesale – it requires a membership

Walmart – affordable products with many varieties

Vacations/Travel to other parts of the United States

Hop-on Hop-off – in each city you want to explore, hop on hop-off and you can get a bird’s eye view of the whole city and then decide which places you want to visit – For NY, Top View is good enough because they offer a tour of the Statue of Liberty on a cruise

Use public transport – Read the passage in the Travel section

Hotwire – you will get great deals and discounts on stays on this platform

National Parks – Before visiting, you should check the national park’s website for hours, things they offer, and other instructions. Most of them have accommodation inside the forest. Remember to respect the premises and obey housekeeping rules at all times

Bus service – I knew Peter Pan and Greyhound. I would prefer Peter Pan to Greyhound. I didn’t have a very good experience with FlixBus when traveling between NY and Niagara Falls

Disclaimer – This is an absolutely pro bono charitable effort to guide Indian students to the United States without any economic benefit. The content reflects my own experience while living in the United States as an F-1 student. I have not received anything in cash or in kind from any individual/company/association to market their name. If anyone has a problem, please contact rnkapadialaw@mail.com. If anyone thinks anything written here is not true and needs editing, please contact rnkapadialaw@gmail.com.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*