Are you planning to move to the US to attend a coding bootcamp? You probably have a few questions about the process. Here are a few that we often answer.
From visas to housing options, we got you covered! In this guide, you’ll find information from top bootcamps, advice from international students who have studied and worked in the US and links to essential resources.
Unless you’re a US citizen or former resident, the first thing you’ll need before coming to the US for a coding bootcamp is a visa. The type of visa you will need depends on the length and type of your coding bootcamp. If your bootcamp is longer than 3 months, you may need more than a standard tourist visa. The following are the most common visa types and cases in which you may need them.
F1, M1 - F1 is the most common academic visa for students who are enrolled in a vocational or academic program. If the bootcamp is an accredited academic institution, you’ll have to get an F1 visa to study there. As regulations for bootcamps become more stringent, you may also need to pursue an M1 visa to study at a bootcamp program for longer than 3 months.
If you’re coming to the US to attend a bootcamp, you may be wondering about the possibility of obtaining a job after bootcamp. Do companies hire international students? During a recent Web Development Immersive live information session, an international student asked how he could get a job in the US after graduating from the Web Development Immersive. The General Assembly team responds:
"We do have international students who come to General Assembly to get jobs here. GA does not sponsor visas, so most students are here on a student visa. Every country has different US visa stipulations, so you would need to check that out in your own country.
You can absolutely come to the US and take classes as an international student, but getting a job in the US has its hurdles. It’s very expensive, time-consuming and requires a lot of paperwork on behalf of the company that would sponsor your visa as they have to prove that they cannot find a suitable candidate in the USA. For example, if you’re from Spain and the job requires you to speak Spanish that would be an incredible leg up on someone here in the States that may not have that ability. I definitely say look into it as soon as possible. Getting a visa can take upwards of a year depending on what materials you need."
In short, a company cannot guarantee a job to an international student. Because visas are issued in the lottery system, a limited number of visas can be issued in a certain time period. Even highly skilled and qualified candidates with employee sponsors are sometimes denied visas if the quota is reached. It’s not impossible to get a job, but as an international student you should be prepared if getting a job does not work out immediately. The number of petitions received by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) usually exceeds the number that can be approved.
Sponsoring a work visa can cost a company anywhere from $1500-$5,000 and is quite rare. As of this publication date, there are no instances of coding bootcamps sponsoring work visas. However, a company in their hiring network may have the resources to sponsor a visa. This is a great question to ask during your interview process!
According to the App Academy FAQs, the deferred-tuition web development bootcamp “welcomes foreign applicants; we have taken students from abroad in the past. That said, because our typical model is to only charge tuition if students find jobs after the course, work visa issues require us to charge an upfront fixed fee of $15,000 to students that are not US citizens or US Permanent Residents.”
Byte Academy in New York is clear that they can’t sponsor student visas, however, in their FAQs, Byte specifies that “if you are able to get a job through our affiliated consulting company, we selectively sponsor work visas for non-US citizens.”
Although the Hack Reactor team cannot assist with visa issues, Hack Reactor has welcomed students from around the world to their onsite 12 week immersive course. For students who cannot obtain a visa, Hack Reactor also offers their Remote Beta program. According to the Hack Reactor FAQ page, when asked if a non-U.S. Citizen would be able to get a job in San Francisco after attending Hack Reactor, the team says:
We do not advise our international applicants to expect to be able to work in San Francisco. It is possible, but by no means a certainty.
If history is any indicator, our international engineers do very well both in the U.S. and within their home countries. That said, the barrier for entry to work in the U.S. is incredibly high and we can make no guarantees. Keep in mind the factors at play are largely out of our control and often out of the control of the employer companies themselves.
That said, the skills you pick up here are valuable around the world. Graduates walk out the door with an increasingly impressive array of project work that impress employers in any country.
RED Academy in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada offers a number of options for international students. Their 48-week work-study programs are aimed at international students who can apply for a Study and Work Permit. These include UX Designer, Web Developer, and Digital Marketing programs. Or students can take a 24-week program without a study permit, but they will need a valid entry document such as an Electronic Travel Authorization or visitor visa. Once students arrive, RED Academy can assist students with applying for a Social Insurance Number and Health Insurance.
Shillington School is one of very few coding bootcamps to offer student visas to students enrolled in the New York Campus’ full-time Graphic Design Course. We interviewed directory Holly Karlsson in 2015, and asked how Shillington is able to navigate the world of student visas. Holly said:
I am so happy that Shillington (US) can now offer M1 visas to eligible international students. We typically have a 40% international 60% Local split of students and having a great mix of cultures and experiences really adds to the Shillington experience.
The M1 visa enables students to enter 30 days before the course starts, remain for the entirety of the course and they have 30 days after the course finishes to leave the US. This is a wonderful opportunity for students from countries such as the UK, Australia & Scandinavia to come to Shillington and study and enjoy all that New York has to offer!
The application process was somewhat lengthy and involved but our course curriculum, facilities, equipment, teachers and portfolios were reviewed and the fact we have so many students gaining jobs as graphic designers enabled us to be approved!
While international students are welcome in their US campuses, Startup Institute does not offer visa support. The good news? According to the Startup Institute website, “we have partnered with Migreat.com to provide you with assistance in getting the right visa easily sorted. Migreat is completely free to use: in a few clicks, their visa tool will give you an idea of the visa for which you are eligible and a to-do list of documents you'll need. If you need additional help, Migreat acts as the Airbnb for immigration resources - they have a huge rolodex online of immigration attorneys that fit all types of budget and visa types, should you need a personal consultation. You can ask them to refer you to an expert to complete your visa application directly on the platform.”
If you have any doubts, remember there were many international students before you who’ve graduated from a bootcamp. Here are some of their tips:
Jason Liu graduated from NYC Data Science Academy after completing his PhD in Physics. He was offered a job at German company Bosch as a Research Scientists specializing in Big Data. We asked Jason to offer advice to other international students looking for a coding bootcamp? He told us: “Typically, you’ll have 1-2 years of working permission after you graduate, so leverage that graduation time in order to take a bootcamp. You don’t want gaps in experience!” Note: Jason is referring to the OPT (Optional Practical Training) time, which is ~1 year of grace period after grad school students graduate. Graduates of a bootcamp do not get OTP.
Juliana Kawase is an international student on a visa from Brazil at New York’s Byte Academy. We got answers from Juliana to four huge questions that we get from future international bootcampers:
What type of visa did you get to attend Byte Academy? I'm attending Byte Academy on a tourist visa. The only problem I thought I might have was with the length of stay. Apparently you can stay up to 6 months with this kind of visa. I didn't consider the other types of visas because the school can't provide them. So that was the only option.
Please describe the process it took to obtain the visa. How long did it take? I already had the visa. For a Brazilian, a tourist visa to the US is valid for 10 years. I scheduled an appointment at the consulate and showed up with the necessary documentation. The whole process (from scheduling to getting my passport back with the visa) might've lasted 1 and a half months.
What advice do you have to foreign students who also want to attend coding bootcamp overseas? Save money beforehand to offset currency rate fluctuations. Also, try to get as much information about the bootcamp. Being so far away, we cannot visit the place and talk to teachers and students, so it's a bit more difficult to get a real picture of what you're getting yourself into. Get a place where you can rest well because it's a lot of work.
Was it difficult adjusting to New York City, culturally, etc? I come from a pretty big city, so there was no big issue in terms of adjusting to a busy city. The main thing that I had to adjust to was taking a 40-50 minute subway ride each way everyday and not having a car to get to the supermarket. The last part sounds stupid , but when the amount you can buy is the amount you can carry, trips to the supermarket are more frequent than I expected. Also... I really miss my dog.
As a bootcamp student, securing an apartment or long-term residence can be difficult as most housing facilities require credit history or a US guarantor. The following are some easier options for international students.
Common is a co-living company, which offers a network of fully-furnished, community-oriented apartments in major US cities. Through a partnership between Common and Course Report, you'll receive $250 off your first month! Common does not require a credit score or history and is open to international students. Common homes are furnished, equipped with laundry facilities, offer free utilities and Wifi, and are cleaned weekly.
Bootcamps that offer housing:
In addition, several bootcamps offer housing facilities for students or assist students in securing housing. Here are a few:
Certain visas, such as the F1 and J1, require students to have health insurance during their course of study in the US. While you may not need health insurance if you are coming to the US as a tourist, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Even with the recent legislation for the Affordable Care Act, It’s important to remember that there is no national public or medical insurance, in which US citizens are automatically enrolled. As a result, medical insurance in the US is expensive. A single visit to the doctor or hospital can cost thousands of dollars. It’s advised that all international travelers and students sign up for insurance prior to their visit.
Coding Bootcamps that Accept the M1 Visa
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - The definitive resource on all things related to visas in the US
Migreat - Free, community-based Immigration resource for travelers
Are you an international student that attended a coding bootcamp in the US? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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