Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Student Guide – Part 4 – Students Under 18

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Part 4 – Student Visa Guide – Students Under 18

Welcome to our Student Visa Video Presentation.  In this presentation we’re going to discuss the educational issues confronting parents with children under 18. Ok – let’s get started. In addition to working out what might be the right visa for my adult clients, I also have to consider the educational and work needs of their children. Some visas such as the E2 Business Investor Visa and the L1 Intra Company Transferee Visa do indeed convey work visas for the spouse, please note that these visas do not convey work visas for the children even if these children are of work age. Indeed, once a child reaches 21 their ability to stay in the US will fall on them directly.

The only way to convey work visas for the entire family is by way of a green card. Thus, if one parent obtains a green card then in almost all cases the entire family (children under 21) will automatically be granted green cards also. Therefore, it is very important when I consider the visa needs of the parents I also have to pay attention to the ages of their children to see if they are approaching work age, typically 16 and above.

For families with children over 13 we must consider very carefully the green card opportunities for them. In many cases, obtaining a green card can take quite a few years to meet all of the qualifications. In addition, in some cases the green card application process can also take years. When possible, we try to ensure that parents are able to convey green cards to their children before they reach the age of 21.

First and foremost, all US students finish school at 18, not 16. Grades 11 and 12 (last two years of high school) are very important for a variety of reasons. In the US students are graded across all subjects, at least six subjects and their average grade is called a Grade Point Average or GPA. GPA scores typically range from 2.0 to 4.0.  A 4.0 GPA is exceptionally good. Honor Roll students must maintain a GPA of 3.5 or above.

Having a good GPA is the universal benchmark by which all students are graded for higher education, scholarships, grants and so forth.  In addition to having a good GPA score, students are also required to take SATs (Standardized Assessment Tests).  This is a one-off national test that all students take. SAT scores can range up to 1600 points. Students can score well on these tests (or not) as a result of their training through years 11 and 12 at High School. Thus, when a student applies for college each one has the above set of common indicators to rank the student’s ability.

If your children skip these crucial years they will, in my opinion, be at a distinct disadvantage. It’s quite possible for a foreign student to establish equivalents, but to be honest it’s not the same thing since in England, for example, after age 16, students narrow their studies down to two or three A- levels, whereas Americans have to maintain at least six subjects and maintain a high GPA. It is for these reasons why children will assimilate better if they join the US education system as soon as possible so they have every opportunity to matriculate in the right way.

US university education is very expensive even for American families. Typically a university education can cost $30,000 per year over a four-year BA degree. In the UK, BA degrees are done over three years. For many professions, after completing a BA degree program students are required to take on a second degree in order to specialize. It’s almost as if in the US the BA is treated as a general education certificate which must be followed by a further three years of specialization. For example, in the UK, it is possible to complete a law degree in three years. In the US, law is considered to be an advanced degree therefore cannot be taken until the student already has a BA degree in another subject.

Many American families have to adopt strategies to ameliorate these high fees in the following ways. For example, let’s take a family from California, if the student goes to a state college within California then the college fees are drastically reduced, possibly under $10,000 per year because their parents have paid local state taxes. However this option is only available to US Citizens and green card holders, thus not applicable to you. Even with this having been said, many students still elect to travel to other states to do their degree as part of the grand “college experience”. Some Americans see this as almost a birth-right and a right of passage.

Alternatively, American families and aliens can have their child go to a local community college. These colleges are not universities but can give a student, 2 years worth of credits at a much lower cost than taking the same courses at a university. For example, a community college will cost the average student about $6K-$9K per year and after two years the student can have enough credits to go to a four-year university but start in year 3 and finish in year 4.

Because university education is so expensive, many families have been able to save for this since their children were very young, or will have to take out student loans in order to fund college, the latter is only available to green card holders or US Citizens. For many families, a university education is something that some students only fully realize in their mid -twenties, and it is certainly not the norm for 18 year olds to sail into a four-year university as it might be for the UK.

When dealing with this issue of education for children under 18, I hope you can see how important it is to get your children integrated into the American education system as quickly as possible, as there is really no time to lose if you’re serious about making the US your permanent home. There is also a time element in that we need to make sure that you can get your green card before any of them reach the age of 21, not to mention children between the ages of 16-21 who can’t wait to get some kind of job to support their lifestyle. None of this is possible without a green card, for the most part. We hope you found this presentation informative and helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us so we can discuss any opportunity you may have.


Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
[Cross Streets 4th and Wilshire]
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

Please note that nothing contained in this website or link therefrom shall be regarded as providing legal advice. Please contact us directly for legal advice specific to your situation. Thank You.

Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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