Author Topic: Migrating as a PHD student to US  (Read 3052 times)

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Offline ali_asadzadehTopic starter

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Migrating as a PHD student to US
« on: April 16, 2024, 08:42:55 am »
Hi,
There comes an opportunity for me to apply as a PHD student in US, they would offer a student visa and they would pay around 2000$ for being a prof assistant,
I wanted to know your feedback on it, since I like immigrating to us this might be an easy choice, But the cons are that I have to live hard(by not being paid well), and doing academic papers for at least 3.5 to 4 years, I like to thinker around and building things, and as a starter it would be ok to be an employee buy finally I'm a man of starting my own business, and I do not think that visa would give me the chance to work as an employee in that time, I wanted to know your feedbacks, any experiences that you might have etc.
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Online jpanhalt

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2024, 09:21:30 am »
It's not clear what you want to do.  The PhD is jokingly called "poor hungry dogs/devils."  That is, you get a PhD  to do something, not make money.  Some students in the arts seem to think its playtime.  In physical  sciences, you work a lot harder if you want to get out on  time.  Some who want to goof around may take 12 years or more.  We called their eventual degrees (PhD or terminal MS) as compassionate degrees.  Some degree paths normally take longer than others.  My point of reference is chemistry and biochemistry.  I have read that physics often takes more than 4 or 5 years.

Is the $2000 per year or per month?    When I was a grad student our stipend was $199/month (food was about $25/mo and rent about $110/mo).  I suspect it's per month, and it is possible to get by on that in some American cities, but not in others because of very high rental rates.  Is there affordable grad student housing?

What's not clear is whether your purpose is to immigrate to the US or further your education to make you more employable in Canada?  Training in the US will provide contacts for eventual employment, but a student visa will require you to return to your country of origin for awhile (e.g., 2 years) before applying for immigration.  At least, that was how it used to be.  It might be quicker to get the PhD at a Canadian university then immigrate as an essential worker or whatever the current term is.

Depending on the times, a PhD can make it more difficult to find a job.  For example, there may be jobs for which someone with a PhD is "overqualified."  That is probably much less so today than it was in the late 60's and early 70's.

Bottom line, if you want to work hard and do research, a PhD is almost mandatory, except in medicine and perhaps electronics.  If you want a place to tinker around for 4 to 6 years, a PhD is an option too, but the purpose and end result will be different.  (My comments are related mostly to physical sciences, not fields like art, education, history, business, etc. )
 

Offline jonpaul

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2024, 10:38:54 am »
PhD are overrated and not benefit to income longterm.

Useful to remain lifetime acamedician or teacher, not for real engineering.

Beware fake ads and fraude.

What is the exact job and your specialty aspirations?

Software, security, hardware design....


Investigete troughly and do not depend on internet, websites or enails.

Do not give ANY personal info till you verify it is a genuine offer

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Bon chance


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Online hans

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2024, 11:47:13 am »
PhD in engineering is a bit different than tinkering around.. There is also pressure to publish enough, often in top tier journals, and thus the papers and innovations have to be novel. There is a lot of frustrating work & long hours under poor prospects. The contracts on universities are typically pisspoor. Long temporary contracts as you're still the "student". If you are really unlucky, you can have egocentric profs. Working on a project can vary between having 1 meeting every month with your supervisor while being 'left alone', to a full team of PhDs with intense collab and proactive discussions.

In that sense, "having an opportunity" would not be enough of a invitation for me. Also invite them to proof themselves they are a good research group, with good supervision and support, at an university with good facilities, and a healthy vision on work/life balance. Is it a "sweat shop" or a lab where they prefer you work less than contract hours per week, but take care of yourself, so you can do your best work whenever you want? Especially in US I sometimes read some pretty horrific stories.
I say this quite stringently, because mental health is a huge problem in academia.

I did a PhD in NL and I am still working on the last few things to wrap it up. I've spent  5 years working at an university, with delays due to health, covid, etc. Those events were stressful. The pressure to show new results every meeting, write&read a lot, and get accepted at good conferences was tough. Working alone on a project (despite a great supervisor) also meant it was a lonely journey.
The travel was nice though. And also the full autonomy was a big relief, and I imagine its similar as running your own business (but then on an intellectual rather than commercial level)..

Whether it is of any use in my career.. I doubt it (lol). If you are really fully dedicated to academia, then its an international job world.
If you're not fully dedicated to academia, then don't bother. People that are dedicated even drop out because the competition is too fierce and resources too scarce (me included).
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 08:06:41 pm by hans »
 

Online ebastler

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2024, 12:29:52 pm »
I think the main question you need to answer for yourself is whether you want to do a PhD -- independent of any immigration and visa questions. As you and others have said, it's several years of hard, poorly paid work. (Where the payment probably varies quite a bit, depending on the specific university's policies and funding, and potential project funding they get.)

The reward is (a) in the PhD title, which may be beneficial to your future career, whether employed or as an entrepreneur or independent contractor. And also (b) in the freedom to explore, go deep on technical questions, discover or invent something new. If both aspects appeal to you, go for a PhD; if neither does, don't do it. And then, unfortunately, there is a large grey area inbetween where the decision may be a difficult one...

Regarding visa and immigration conditions: It seems that running a self-employed business on the side is possible as a student on an F1 visa; see the link below. Disclaimers: I have no personal experience or expertise in this area at all, and don't know how reliable that source is. And of course you would need to find the time for self-employed work in parallel to a PhD program!

https://www.immigration-america.com/self-employment-options-for-f-1-students
 

Offline ali_asadzadehTopic starter

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2024, 01:08:05 pm »
Thanks for your feedbacks, the payments are for each month, and the field is bio electronics,  My final goal is immigration to US and starting my own company, But I see this as a helper to ease immigration process and get some initial money to help start a profitable job, since 2000$ is slavery and I have big dreams.
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Online jpanhalt

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2024, 01:38:17 pm »
If your final goal is immigration to the US and being an entrepreneur, you would save the wait between a student visa and green card by getting your PhD in Canada or elsewhere. 

US used to be pretty strict about that, even with students from Canada.  In the 70's, I had two friends who had to take that wait to get themselves/spouse readmitted.   That may have changed, but with the possible exception of our Southern border, getting over our hurdles to immigration can take a lot of time and cost you a good immigration lawyer's fees.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2024, 02:13:30 pm »
I'd say a masters degree is more handy for people wanting to do hands-on work. And the course is shorter as well. If that is a possible entry point into the US, go for it. Judging by the projects the OP has posted over time, I think there is no problem for the OP to land a job at a tech company.
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Online tom66

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2024, 03:34:08 pm »
It's quite difficult to immigrate to the US permanently even with a masters or PhD. 

The routes usually are (my summary, consult an immigration lawyer for definitive advice):

H-1B visa -> Requires employer sponsorship and there is a lottery.  If you have a masters you get more of a chance of winning the lottery but in any given year there's only about a 1-in-4 chance of getting a visa, so many employers are hard pressed to commit unless you are truly extraordinary.

L-1 visa -> Intracompany transfer.  Probably the easiest way, you go work for e.g. Microsoft in Vancouver for a year, then they transfer you across to the USA.  I don't think there's a cap on this, but the employer does need to want to do this (and you need to be willing to take that risk if this is how you want to emigrate).

O-1 visa -> "Extraordinary ability" - usually used for athletes and the like but I've read of engineers and scientists going this way.  Requires an interview process and people to write letters of support in your favour, and subject to the immigration office deciding in your favour. 

There are others limited to other countries like Australia, but those are the main ones I'm aware of.

You would still need a green card to be a permanent resident, but once you have a visa I believe that's a possibility in all three cases.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 03:36:40 pm by tom66 »
 

Online jpanhalt

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2024, 04:29:49 pm »
Early this century, I was able to get a scientist/physician from Singapore an O-1.  He stayed with us a few years, then went to Houston, TX and did very well.  In my instance, it took sponsorship and going through hoops.  The immigration definition of "extraordinary" is a bit different than many laypersons may think.  It is nowhere "unique."

However, the bottom line is to stay in Canada until you are actively recruited by an American firm.  Wanting to be an entrepreneur probably won't cut it, unless you are named Musk or Bezos.  You cannot ignore the government's incentive for high-earning individuals.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 04:32:22 pm by jpanhalt »
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2024, 05:45:51 pm »
My final goal is immigration to US and starting my own company, But I see this as a helper to ease immigration process and get some initial money to help start a profitable job, since 2000$ is slavery and I have big dreams.

Getting into a US PhD program is a reasonably good start of an immigration strategy as long as you understand the rules and are willing to commit to the process.  How long it takes depends on things like how good your school and program are, how well you do and luck.  The most reliable course is to finish your PhD and then get an academic job--this will qualify you for the EB2-PERM Special Handling at the least and possibly EB1-B if you do exceptionally well, publish and meet the right people.  Once you have the green card, you're on the way to wherever it is you want to go.

Your attitude may need adjustment, frankly.  If a good school is willing to offer you a free PhD plus a stipend (tuition remission plus the $2000) and you think of that as slavery, you aren't ready to play the game.  There are other ways to immigrate to the US, but starting a PhD program and dropping out probably isn't the best plan.
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Offline Rick Law

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2024, 06:02:30 pm »
...
Getting into a US PhD program is a reasonably good start of an immigration strategy as long as you understand the rules and are willing to commit to the process.
...
There are other ways to immigrate to the US, but starting a PhD program and dropping out probably isn't the best plan.
(Bold added)

I agree with bdunham7 here.  I have seen at least one very disappointed person who tried that.  I've also seen H1B's who failed to convert (to permanent) and that too is heart breaking when they are forced to pack up and move back.

Hi,
... ... as a starter it would be ok to be an employee buy finally I'm a man of starting my own business... ...

Disclaimer first -- Law is my name, not my field.  I am not a lawyer.  I am sharing what I know as a laymen.

Since owning a business is your ambition...  There is also the Immigrant Investment Visa.  USA should/would welcome folks with knowledge, ambition, and grit to do the hard work.

I assume you are not currently loaded with cash.  You could also consider starting your business in Canada first.  Build it up some, then expand by open a branch in the USA and transfer yourself to head up the branch location.  You are then on L1A visas (intra-company executive/management transferee)...

I think having a branch in the USA you head-up (and own) makes that a little less risky than starting from zero on unfamiliar grounds with no backing.  I just looked it up so I have the link below.  You need to have (without borrowing) $1M or $500K (if in rural or high unemployment area) to start, but I think your own Canadian company could borrow.  Then once when you fulfilled the requirements (excluding direct relatives, hiring 10 locals for a duration), you get your permanent residence.

Consult an immigration lawyer.  Details matter.  Most of us non-lawyers wont known the details, or may misunderstood the legal issues involved.  There probably are plenty of other legal means that most laymen won't know either.

More info on investment visa (and a link there for employment based visas) here:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/immigrant-investor-visas.html

Edit: added "...or may misunderstood the legal issues involved..."

« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 06:08:08 pm by Rick Law »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2024, 06:05:48 pm »
All the above still leaves me wondering how so many illegal immigrants manage to become legal US residents without going to universities (far from it) but just stay in the US and work.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Online jpanhalt

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2024, 06:17:02 pm »
They also vote, and in many places, that is illegal, but still happens.  That's a totally different issue, political, and best kept out of this.  It, along with "abortion rights," will be major issues in our upcoming election for President.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 06:20:02 pm by jpanhalt »
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2024, 06:22:43 pm »
All the above still leaves me wondering how so many illegal immigrants manage to become legal US residents without going to universities (far from it) but just stay in the US and work.

I think there is abuses with "refugee" status.  Some are here as "refugees pending adjudication" which means years waiting for the legal process to finish.  If they don't show for the adjudication, then they become (in the actual wordings of existing law) illegal aliens.  Mean time, they are pending (but legal).

There is also the "deferred due to natural disaster" given temporary legal residence.  I know many (tens of thousands) are here because their home country had an earthquake some 15 years ago, and their return requirement is still deferred because bureaucrats and politicians like to kick the can down the road.

The price of doing it right is steep.  Years of waiting along with loads of paperwork and likely loads of lawyer fees.  But you have the security and perhaps the pride of having done it right.

Edit  - this was posted then I saw nctnico's last reply... may be I should have stay off that topic, but since I already wrote it, and this merely stated what happened as FYI answer to the question... I left decided to just leave the reply.

Edit 2:

Grrr... it was jpanhalt's reply that I saw after posted my reply...  Now I used up my annual mistake quota.

They also vote, and in many places, that is illegal, but still happens.  That's a totally different issue, political, and best kept out of this.  It, along with "abortion rights," will be major issues in our upcoming election for President.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 07:54:31 pm by Rick Law »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2024, 07:14:48 pm »
I have some family members who just ventured to the US, found work and became legal US citizens from there. It took time but AFAIK they didn't spend lots of money on lawyers or so. AFAIK they just applied for US citizenship lottery and got it at some point.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2024, 07:16:49 pm by nctnico »
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Offline bdunham7

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2024, 07:59:51 pm »
I have some family members who just ventured to the US, found work and became legal US citizens from there. It took time but AFAIK they didn't spend lots of money on lawyers or so. AFAIK they just applied for US citizenship lottery and got it at some point.

If you come from a country that is on the current list of nations with low immigration rates, you can enter the diversity lottery for a green card (permanent residence).  Netherlands is on that list.  There is no citizenship lottery, you can apply after 5 years of permanent residence.  You don't need an attorney for any stage, but immigration lawyers aren't that expensive and can spot trouble before it happens.  That's probably more important at the citizenship stage since the applicant has more to lose.  Hiring an attorney after your application has been rejected is much more painful.
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Online Stray Electron

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2024, 12:44:45 am »
PhD are overrated and not benefit to income longterm.


   That's not true in the US.  My wife and daughter both have PhDs and both made/make a ton of money.  When I worked for a US defense company, we were required to have a certain number of people on each program with BS, MS and PhDs and one of the guys that I worked with had been hired specifically because he had a PhD, but it was in English literature!

   But it's not clear what the OP wants to get a PhD in.  And it also sounds like he wants to start his own company, so a PhD may not benefit him.

   One of my cousins is currently working as a research and teaching assistant at U of F while he works on his PhD. He's not getting paid much but he is making a LOT of very beneficial contacts in industry and has already received several very lucrative job offers. 
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2024, 02:36:37 am »
PhD are overrated and not benefit to income longterm.

That's often true in Europe, probably a bit less so in the USA. Also, that might be a way to get your foot in the door, if you want to migrate to the US but don't have a job offer there/sponsor.

Useful to remain lifetime acamedician or teacher, not for real engineering.

Often true, but again depends a bit. It's also useful if you want to eventually get any kind of high-level engineering management position, especially in larger companies.
 

Offline thermistor-guy

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2024, 05:26:51 am »
... But the cons are that I have to live hard(by not being paid well), and doing academic papers for at least 3.5 to 4 years, I like to thinker around and building things, and as a starter it would be ok to be an employee buy finally I'm a man of starting my own business...

Not advice, but points to consider:

Are you using the PhD work to build the technical foundation of the business you want to develop?

Will the PhD thesis tackle one of your ideas, or one of your supervisor's ideas? If the latter, are you ok with working on someone else's idea for 3-4 years,
while putting your own on hold?

Universities typically want you to sign over all rights to any Intellectual Property you develop, while you are a student - even IP you come up with in your spare
time, that's not part of your thesis. Are you prepared to do that?

 

Offline ali_asadzadehTopic starter

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2024, 09:38:05 am »
I know PHD would not help me on income specially if I want to start my own company, But I see it as an easier option for immigration, the real question for me is that if I can do freelance work in that period to have more income, since 2000$ would not be enough for living, also suppose that I could convince my self that this is the route that I should choose, after finishing the PHD, what are the chances of building a successfully company in tech? are there any helpful laws there to ease that? I have no Idea how hard or beneficial is to start companies there. But I think I have very good Ideas :)
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Offline jonpaul

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2024, 10:58:51 am »
Dear Sir:

 PhD is not your true  objective but just an  excuse and means to get into the USA.
But the USA is already  overflowing with immigrants.
And  with faux PhDs,

My humble  suggestion:

stay in Canada
go to a Canadian  university  or tech school, Many excellent schools there.
get a job in industry IN CANADA

Just my idea

Have an absolutely fantastic day!

j
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Online jpanhalt

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2024, 11:24:34 am »
I know PHD would not help me on income specially if I want to start my own company, But I see it as an easier option for immigration,...

I concur with jonpaul and the obvious. 

Getting a PhD simply for the hypothetical easier pass into the US is not a good idea.  Earning a PhD will take (if you work diligently and don't get stuck in a dead end) about 4 to 6 years.  Then, there is the usually mandated 2 year year return to Canada, unless you can get it converted.  Two big if's.  Working as an independent contractor while in a legitimate graduate school raises all sorts of concerns.  It may not even be allowed on the basis of conflict of interest, you're already paid a graduate stipend, and/or IP.*  Moreover, if you go to a 3rd rate school for the PhD, I suspect getting an employer to sponsor you would be difficult.

*As I recall, that has has been challenged in court and the student won.  The last thing you want to do is challenge the requirements of a school to which you are applying.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2024, 12:16:57 pm »
...
Getting into a US PhD program is a reasonably good start of an immigration strategy as long as you understand the rules and are willing to commit to the process.
...
There are other ways to immigrate to the US, but starting a PhD program and dropping out probably isn't the best plan.
(Bold added)

I agree with bdunham7 here.  I have seen at least one very disappointed person who tried that.  I've also seen H1B's who failed to convert (to permanent) and that too is heart breaking when they are forced to pack up and move back.

Not quite related, but when I tried to go to the US for technically a few day paid gig to attend a trade show and shoot a video, even the entire legal department of the huge corporation couldn't get permission from US immigration for me to enter. They said it was just too complex a system. In the end they phoned me up (to leave no email trail) and told me to just come as a regular tourist. And if immigration/customs asked, the company had never heard of me  8)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2024, 12:26:58 pm by EEVblog »
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Migrating as a PHD student to US
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2024, 12:26:36 pm »
There comes an opportunity for me to apply as a PHD student in US, they would offer a student visa and they would pay around 2000$ for being a prof assistant,
I wanted to know your feedback on it, since I like immigrating to us this might be an easy choice, But the cons are that I have to live hard(by not being paid well), and doing academic papers for at least 3.5 to 4 years, I like to thinker around and building things, and as a starter it would be ok to be an employee buy finally I'm a man of starting my own business, and I do not think that visa would give me the chance to work as an employee in that time

$2000 per week/month/year?
And also where you live can make a huge difference in expenses.
Immigration issues aside, baseline problem is can you live on that money in that location?
As others have said, immigration laws can be complex, and I've also heard, at the complete whim of the immigration official you get.
 


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