Many people from other countries regard the USA as the land of Opportunity.  Is it really worth it to come and stay in the USA?

You Will Pay Through the Nose for Your Education

Tuition costs are rising quickly.  Between out of state tuition costs, living expenses, travel expenses, Visa Expenses, and Lost wages, the cost of coming to the USA as a Foreign Student, the costs are only getting higher.

If you have to borrow money to pay for those expenses, then that will only amplify the costs you have to pay back. Sometimes those student loans will eat up to 30-50% of your after tax income after your graduate. For Years – 3 Options After Masters in USA – Job, Studies or Pack Your Bags

You Will Have to Wait for Years to Get Your Green Card

You will likely have to wait for many years to get through the process of getting your green card.  It used to be that if you came to the USA and got a master’s degree in a computer field, you would have a fast track to a green card.

Now, many companies wait for the H-1B Visa to be near expiry before beginning the process of applying for a Green Card.  Depending on the mood of your company, you could be classified as EB-3, even with a Master’s degree.

Is it worth spending 8-10 years at the same company, in a relatively similar job to get that Green Card?  I’ve seen it happen to colleagues at work.

You will be Living a Middle Class Lifestyle in the USA

I will grant you – Middle Class in the USA is different from other countries.

What it likely will mean is that you will be able to buy a home in most parts of the country.

You likely will be able to buy a car or two, and support your family, and pay your bills.

The costs of services in the USA can be very high indeed.  Daycare will run over $1000 USD/month in many parts of the country, especially those with high tech positions.

usa middle class

No Money in the Pocket. Photo Credit

The cost of a cleaning service will be over $125/visit.  Eating out is incredibly expensive.  There will be very definite limits on what you can do with this income.  Add in the costs of flying to your home country every year or two – at $1000+ per plane ticket per family member, and I think that you get the idea.

You can read similar argument about middle class by Chandru at Don’t Come to USA, If You Are Highly Educated and Successful in Your Life

If you were to stay in India, or China, or Brazil,  you likely will be able to live a very cushy lifestyle.  You likely will be able to afford servants, housekeepers, drivers, and more on a fraction of the salary.

Food in the USA is Very Different

One of the Chief complaints I have heard from so many of my friends from other countries and cultures is that the food in the USA is not as good as anywhere else.

It is a universal comment.  Yes, it is possible to get used to it, but it is very different, and not always the least bit pleasing.

If you come here, chances are very good that you will spend a lot more time cooking, and since you likely will not have a cook, you will be doing that cooking yourself.

Is it Worth it to Come and Stay in the USA?

I will point out that life in the USA has many charms, but it is not always better.

You have to really ask your self- Is it Worth it to Come and Stay in the USA?

Are the Costs worth it?

Is your Career Really going to be enhanced that much?  Or will you Miss your family, hate the food, and not enjoy the country that much?

Yesterday, Moen Sen wrote an Amazing Article This is What stole my heart about USA. Today, we you saw a different perspective about USA.

Do you think it’s worth it to study in USA?

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  • munna

    I would like to add that different people have different perspective. There are students who are not that keen on Green Card or earning/saving/investing money. They are happy just to be here. If some student is from rich family (business or agriculture), they dont care much about H-1B visa or Green Card. Some people just like the status that they are in USA and for them-this is the definition of success. There are people who just like to spend money and rake in debt-for such students USA is great.

  • Maame Amma Sam Okyir

    Hey you all. Ghana is the best place to be…..

  • Rahul Kumar Yadav

    I Got to hear all this for the first time! It surely is something I would not have wanted to know. However, I wish to be aware of the scenario outside US. Particularly, I am interested in Europe, more so in Germany, to be even more specific. I shall wait for your article on the above regard that will try to map the same four points to studying in EU (Germany). I hope you will not disappoint me.

    Thanks and regards.

  • Rocio Lorena Ruiz

    Only if you have money, you can study here… But if you want to stay and work legally here, that is very rough…

  • VERANSO CONRAD

    Truly with all heart I agree with the author but not on al the points he listed. In life you should not do things in a blind / unreasonable way. There is no place in the world presently as diverse and full of opportunity like the USA, (EVERY BODIES LAND). For me if you are focused in life paying your fee is no problem with the so many scholarships available, research funds being provided etc, what else do you want, when we know world wide every country is experiencing economic crisis although in different levels. So why would fees not increase, VISA expenses, living cost not increase there. As concern food if we are franc to our selves its not only the US that you will notice that food you are consuming here is different from that of your home country, if you dough me, Please travel just to your neighbouring country and tell me you experience on food there.
    So to Conclude, even though the author is right from his own point of view, USA remains the best Place Full of Opportunities both Carrier wise and Opportunity wise.
    Therefore I will READILY RECOMMEND U.S.A to any one who is focused and has plans/dream of succeeding in life
    Well it is commonly said “YOU SHOULD NOT ARGUE TO MUCH FOR YOUR OWN POINT OF VIEW BECAUSE THINGS DO APPEAR DIFFERENTLY / SEPARATELY TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT TIME” may the author is having is own personal qualms with USA

  • Kristen

    There is no ideal environment or land in any place in the entire world. What were you seeking when you came to the USA? What were you craving for? I agree with quite a number of comments and with the author in some things but not all, especially in the area of food. Generally, in the USA, you are rewarded for your efforts. If this were the case in a great number of countries in the world, so many won’t be here in the USA. Indeed, USA is a land of opportunities, if and only if you have what it takes to walk through the open doors of opportunities. Are you willing to pay the price? USA is not for mediocre. A mediocre will only survival on average life styles. Anyway, different strokes for different folks. Good write up all the same.

  • Chidimma

    My agreement with Ramesh regarding performance has nothing to do with US green card process. US is one of the countries where hardwork pays.In some countries people got positions they never merited.

  • vish

    Food in USA? Well, I have traveled to about 40 countries now including Germany, France, Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, UK, UAE, South Africa, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, some african countries (Chad, Mozambique) . Trust me you don’t find any better anywhere. In fact only UK is comparable (or may be better than USA), Trying eating in South America or Africa or China/Japan/South Korea/Taiwan and you will know what I mean.

    • munna

      Agree about food. As you mentioned UAE, food is great there too. Same quality and taste as India.
      In general, food items like vegetables, fruits, meat is of good quality, clean and hygienic here in USA. Thats why we do not fall sick that often.
      For those people who are fanatical vegetarians-those who want eggless cakes and so on and then dont want to cook either-for such people life is difficult. If you can survive on Daal, Potatoes, eggs, chicken then USA is great.

  • vish

    If you were to stay in India, or China, or Brazil, you likely will be able to live a very cushy lifestyle. You likely will be able to afford servants, housekeepers, drivers, and more on a fraction of the salary.

    I ethically object to this. Being able to exploit someone to work for you for peanuts, having a great life by making someone’s life miserable. I am sorry, I totally despise this thought.

    All this just because most of us Indians still live in virtual slavery days where we think paying the slaves (maids, drivers etc) just enough to eat some rotten food is fair?

    • XYZ

      What would they eat if you don’t provide such jobs? What is so unethical about it? You are able to afford them with fraction of your salary because of cost of living. Having a cook/driver/servant at home does no where relate to slavery. Be realistic before generalizing. They will be paid for their work and as much as they deserve. However, I’m not denying the fact of exploiting them in many cases.

  • rajarshi ray

    this article truly reflects the ground realities and shows the other side of the coin. a rosy ( distorted ) picture is as dangerous as the quicksand. ignorance is NOT bliss.

    getting an ms from the usa does not necessarily translates to job now-a-days. yet, i believe it is worth going for it, provided you get into the top fifty. no, not because of the higher rank = higher probability of getting hired ( don’t forget it is a probability at the end of the day ), but for the challenge – challenging yourself and pushing your limits.

    had i been the lawmaker, i would have created a special scheme for foreign students, where you study at in-state rates and return to home after graduation.

    • vish

      had i been the lawmaker, i would have created a special scheme for foreign students, where you study at in-state rates and return to home after graduation.

      Why would a law maker do that? What’s in it for USA? Why do we charge different tickets for foreigners at the Taj mahal?

  • http://www.happyschools.com/members/sriharsha/ SriHarsha

    It entirely depends upon the way you see and the choices you make…
    Personally I don’t expect that working in US makes me a millionaire ..
    We try to come to US for studying… I can say I may never be able to enter into the same type of colleges i aspire to study in US if i choose to stay in India…
    Yes, the cost is high but i feel it would be of worth..
    Middle class life in US is much much better than Middle class life in India..
    Do you know the TYPICAL salary of a fresher is around 20k …we might not be able to have all the luxuries you mentioned with that amount..
    On the whole I would say….Coming to USA is not just for making money..its to increase your skill, knowledge..its like seeing the world..
    Pretty sure its not gonna be a cake walk.. but no pain , no gain..

    • xyz

      I completely agree with your comments, USA is the land of opportunities, knowledge and skills. So there is no use of spoiling it through such type of posts. Its just useless, whosoever has posted it. USA actually respects degree, knowledge, hard work, skills, and education, which India never.

  • vish

    I read this all, understand all of this. I will stay from any arguments on any of the points.

    Now, the thing is, if NOT USA, then?

    The fact stands that, NO COUNTRY ON THE FACE OF THIS LITTLE PLANET EARTH WANTS INDIANS AND CHINESE IMMIGRANTS.

    Lets look at some other popular destinations:
    UK: Almost closed for Indians, living costs way higher than USA
    Australia: Almost closed for Indians.
    Canada: Recently closed its borders and postponed its PR program. At par or more expensive than USA.
    Singapore: Totally closed for Indians and Chinese (from China) oh, yes many times more expensive than USA. NO IT industry, salaries way lower than USA. Your kids born in Singapore are INDIAN citizens, not Singapore.
    Europe: In dead waters and almost closed for Indians. At par or more expensive than USA.

    India: well, I am NOT ON for India, you can find my post with my 17 reasons I won’t go back to India.
    http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/not-going-back-to-india/

    I repeat, I agree with the post, just that I can’t find a better option. If you know of some, please share.

  • sahana

    I am here in USA from the last 5 months on Research assistantship funding for my PhD. I am a Physical Therapist.

    I did not find the food or people or culture any of a problem and it was my first International trip (so there is no question of having been exposed to it before and so having got comfortable).

    People here have been wonderful, made many friends from the first day itself, excellent lab and mentor and am having a wonderful academic and social life here.

    So I would say everyone has their own story to tell :)

    • Abhinav

      Hey hi I am also a Physical therapist in Michigan state.
      I agree with your comment, and I don’t know why people post such type of irrelevant stories about USA and spoil USA,

      • sahana

        Great :) I am in the University of Florida for my PhD program! Great to meet a fellow physio :)

    • munna

      What do you guys plan to do after Ph.D.? what will you be doing say after 5 years? This article is trying to portray an opinion whether it was worth all the effort in time, money and opportunity. Good to listen to both sides of the aisle.

      • sahana

        Well my PhD will be completed in the next 4.5 years(this is my second semester) and I plan to clear my license by the 2nd or 3rd year of PhD so that I can start working as soon as I graduate. Physical Therapists have no dearth of job opportunities here and I plan to pursue research, academia as well as clinics once I graduate.
        I have already started making contacts and the future looks really bright. There are people already waiting for me to graduate :)
        I can truly say the quality that I find here is amazing and within 6 months I feel like I got to learn more than the 6 years I did in India.
        The infrastructure is so impressive! Wish we had this kind of grants and research funding in India too. That would have made research in India incredible :)

      • http://www.happyschools.com/members/haleygray/ Haley Gray

        I guess I should start out by saying that I’m an American. But I didn’t grow up in the USA.
        What I’m trying to convey is that you have to sit down and carefully research all of your options. You have to be open to the possibility that you will come to the USA, spend a TON of money, and not get a job. If you do get a job- and most will- then the path to the Green Card can be very difficult, and it will take many years. My heart breaks for my friends who have had their lives on hold for years waiting for paperwork to go through, and a system that is confusing at best. I wish I could say it’s just one friend going through this kind of torture, but it is not. I have several friends who are currently experiencing this.
        There are some wonderful opportunities in the USA. Unfortunately, sometimes they can be hard to come by, with the realities that we face. – Finding a company that will do a visa sponsorship can be difficult. Then, having to stay with that same company for 10-12 years to get through the Green Card Process, without changing jobs multiple times can be miserable. No Small start-up companies will take new employees that require a sponsorship- only the larger corporations, and only a few of them will.

        I will challenge you to do very careful math on the cost of your masters degree in Technology, in the USA. Tuition at many schools is 70+K. If you quit a job to come here and study, you have just forfeited those two years of salary- say $25K/year, so $50K. Add in Travel and Living Expenses- Another $20K. You’re up to a Grand Total of around $140,000. Your payments are going to be at least $1000/month. I haven’t calculated interest.
        Starting Salaries here for Computer Science Masters degrees are about $70K/year. By the time you take out taxes, insurance, etc, you are down to around $60K,(give or take) or about 5K/month. Subtract out rental for an apartment- $1000/month, Loan Payment of $1000/month, Car Payment of $600/month, Gas of $250/month. Car Insurance will be at a premium, since you’ll be a new driver. Another $200-300/month, possibly more.

        Compare that to staying at home and getting a 15%/year raise. If you were at 25K/year, you’d be at $28,750 after one year, and $33,063 after 2 years. Not quite the same amount, but what is your standard of living?

        I guess what I’m saying is that coming to the USA is a great opportunity, but just beware before you spend $$$ on an education, particularly at a lesser school, just to come here and rack up debt.

  • Chidimma

    I totally agree with Ramesh P. comments.”It means that if one puts in honest efforts, he / she would not be refused opportunity for reasons other than performance!”

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

      Unfortunately US green card process is not based on your performance. Read the link I posed from Hindu.

  • Prashanth

    Ha ha… Looks like a loser’s rant… What do you expect US to do to you?? Make you the president of their country?? work hard… You will be rewarded for that… :)

    • Agree with Parshanth

      Hey you are absolutely correct Prashanth, I don’t know what makes people to make some stories of bread and butter and post here for spoiling the USA, if they don’t want to stay here or if they don’t like, they should find an alternative, rather than posting all fake about USA and I am surprised to read about food, USA is having all variety of Indian food with lot of Indian restaurants and groceries stores and they respect Indians a lot, but still some people likes to post rubbish about country, they respect education and knowledge and You know the present deputy Secretary of State- Maryland is Indian guy from Tamil Nadu. Isn’t this example enough to neutralize the above post.

      • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

        Quote from a person who is waiting for green card -http://www.endlesswait.com/green-card/disappointment-galore-eb2-retrogression-in-october-2012-stem-bill-failure/
        This blog was started four years ago – actually this month marks our four year anniversary and I’ve been tracking EB priority dates since May 2007. In those 5 years and 4 months (64 months), EB3-India priority date has moved from May 2001 to October 2002. That is roughly 1 year movement in 5 years. At that rate, my EB3 Priority Date of April 2007 will be current in a mere 25 years.

        //
        Let me know after few years when you go through Green Card process. If one guy is on good position doesn’t equate 1000′s of others who are suffering with Green Card. For folks who are in F1 status will not know much about green card and you can site examples of few at top positions. But for majority, when you go through GC process, you will know life is not going to be easy. You will feel the pain when you can’t get promotion, stay in the same job, same role for many years and your wife cannot work. When you have kids and family, living in USA with one salary is not a joke.

        Plus this article is written by an American based on her observation of the troubles foreigners are going through while in USA. Food part is debatable, but education, green card is real challenge and tough to deal with.

  • I Agree

    This is very true, most of the people in India are ignorant about the reality of USA.

  • RAMESH P

    What are we trying to impress here? Personally I believe that each person moving out of his own country and moving to USA has specific and well thought out reasons for the same. Land of opportunity does NOT mean that there are gold paved streets around. It means that if one puts in honest efforts, he / she would not be refused opportunity for reasons other than performance! I believe this is a differential and this is what attracts. Is the USA a fair place! I do not think so. Is it a fairer place from where you come from? Maybe. That thought is the motivation.

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

      Ramesh – For folks who are goign through the green card process know the difficulty. Right now, do you know how many H4 spouses with good education are wasting their career? quality of life is better, but it comes with its challenges.

      In the EB2 category of temporary, non-immigrant workers, a H-4 visa spouse would typically wait for six years before a green card application is made and then potentially another six years for the issuance of the green card. This makes a total of around 12 years, time spent languishing in the aisles of Walmart, making small-talk with vendors on street corners, engaged in the soul-destroying household chores and the limited joys of child-rearing.

      In the EB3 category, the six-year wait for the green card process initiation is compounded by an even longer eight-12 year wait for the green card itself, requiring the H-4 visa-holders to hold their life in suspended animation for a staggering 14-18 years. Over the passage of such a length of time, all hope of resuscitating one’s passion to pursue a meaningful career is likely to be extinguished, with only a sense of lonely desperation left in its wake. From http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/for-indian-women-in-america-a-sea-of-broken-dreams/article3697211.ece

      • Suresh

        @HSB,
        So you mean to say the idea of getting a green card is not at all good?
        Please clarify your point. Is the idea of doing Masters in the US and working in the US after that – a bad idea? Plz help.

        • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

          Its not about good or bad. Its the fact. You are goign to be waiting for long time to get GC, unless law changes. Folks who are here are going through the painful process. But, why? Overall you will have better quality, but term quality is subjective.

          • vish

            As Raghu said, It’s all subjective. To add, is there a plan B? If there was, we won’t be arguing here.

            • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

              Every foreigner is in USA is for a reason. Some are living happily, some have their share of problems. Life will be never easy, its how we adapt to situations makes our life happy.

      • sunita

        Raghuram, you are totally speaking the harsh reality of the dependent spouses in USA . Most of the spouses are highly qualified and have immense zeal to strive in a successful career and they are no less than anyone but with the current process it is very difficult to get a job and specially if they happen to be an non IT candidate it will further decrees the chances and pose many other challenges. Not to mention most of them eventually start family half heatedly and end up adding more expenses to the one who is earning and everything else gets vanished , interest, the dreams, hope, social life , career , family and even the relationship between couples turn sour . The only social life is on weekends with forceful smiles in parties which are so boring and meaningless. friends keep on moving and changing according to their jobs / preferences. I have seen so many young newly married couples facing the same situations.

        I personally had an excellent life in India with family , relatives , friends , a good and promising career. lot of support in all terms with excellent facilities and lot of independence. I landed here with many dreams and hopes but eventually I got trapped in starting a family and now totally home grounded and exhausted . I got admissions in 4 out of 5 universities I applied to and one is a Phd with scholarship , but with no one to take care of my kids I am not able to take up any opportunity . When I tried searching for a job (as I taught it will be more manageable as I will get better salary and will be able to support the day care expenses ) no employer is ready to help me. I have been trying so hard for so long , now I feel I should just pack my bags and go back and start working there and waste no more time just staying at home and going through the daily tasks with no interest . It makes no sense to wait till my husband gets me on EAD and I will probably be loosing my age and completely get out of sync with my career and interests .

        Otherwise life here has been nice I personally like the people who are very friendly and food is no different from India pretty much get everything from veggies to spices and everything is clean and well packaged than in India and here places are secure and safe the only challenge I have is with expenses . It is really tough to maintain a decent standard of living on only one salary , and if you have any lost wages and loans from before to pay it gets even more difficult. I might hang in here for few more months , if nothing works out I am packing my bag. I feel students should come alone and get on job and get done with their loans before getting married and having a family. It all comes down to the way you plan and manage the expenses. One thing is for sure it is no cake walk to get your wishes granted. You have to strive real hard and plan and be flexible to get to your goals.

        • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com Raghuram Sukumar

          Sunita – Its not easy being in H4 in USA. Hope CIR or EAD for H4 will come through.

      • Rohit Sharma

        I would say opportunities are relatively better. Initial payscale in India is really bad, in US it relatively far better.

        It also depends upon the opportunity, if someone is smart enough to get in the big companies like Microsoft,Google etc.. the exposure in US will be really far better than India..

        But if someone is just working as a consultant without upgrading himself with time , he will end up in stagnant pay scale, hence limited opportunities.

        You have to understand with the population size of India, its getting hard to find opportunities in India also be it be housing or jobs. Considering the same thing, you can expect atleast better opportunities in US.

  • Deni

    If settling in USA is your passion, then no matter what nothing will hold you behind from attaining it!