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Migrating as a PHD student to US

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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.

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. )

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

Beware of USA and CA laws re immigration, financial, taxes.

Bon chance


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).

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!


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