Concern over Visa Status and Immigration

There is another very difficult situation that Chinese international students face while pursuing their goals in the United States: concerns about acquiring and keeping a US visa. Chinese students are required by immigration regulations to be full-time students in order to maintain their “F1” visa (student visa). This means they are not allowed to work more hours or to find an off-campus job, even if they have an urgent financial need to support their studies. Also, they cannot apply for student loans because they are neither citizens nor permanent residents of the United States. In a study conducted at Indiana University, Yeh (2000) reported that Chinese international students continually argued they lacked the same kind of resources as US students. Their experiences of being subjected to a marginal status and limited resources generated great anxiety about their future in the United States.

Visa issues are a salient problem when it comes to paying short visits to their families in China. Many Chinese students in the United States dare not go back to China because they are afraid they will be refused visas to return to school. The long separation from their families poses severe challenges to Chinese students.

Moreover, Chinese students face difficulties associated with changing their visa status if they decide to remain in the United States to pursue other life goals after graduation. There are very limited opportunities for foreign students to switch their student visas in order to become permanent residents of the United States. The only possibility for this switch is to be employed as having expertise under the “technical immigrant quota” system (Situ et al. 1995). As a result of this, many Chinese students decide to pursue advanced degrees (doctorate) or those technical-oriented majors in which Americans are relatively underrepresented to maximize their opportunities for future employment in the United States (Situ et al. 1995). According to Yeh (2000), many Chinese students view the F1 student visa as a barrier to their future employment in the United States. Yeh concluded that the chronic stress from the “marginal status” becomes a daily struggle for most mainland Chinese students in the United States.

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