Going to the US for an extended period of time requires a lot preparation, but this will pay off once you have established your daily routine.

Before the socialising, travelling and general fun begins (not to mention your education), there are a few tasks to sort out in advance.

Health insurance

Healthcare in the USA is private and expensive. 

Without insurance, even short visits to the emergency room can cost at least $200, not including charges for services or treatment. Overnight stays cost at least $1,000, exclusive of treatment.

Studying in the USA without health insurance carries a very high financial and personal risk.

There are thousands of insurance providers, but many international students find it cheaper and more convenient to purchase insurance through their universities.

You should speak to your international student adviser to discuss your needs and the plans on offer.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure this is covered under your chosen plan.

Banking

If you are taking cash to the USA, remember to exchange your pounds before you get to the airport. Money Saving Expert has a travel money comparison feature, to help you find the best exchange rate near you.

Some UK current account debit cards don't charge fees to withdraw cash abroad, and some UK credit cards don't charge fees for transactions abroad.

If you are staying in the US for a year or longer, it might be worth opening a US bank account. Speak to your university's international student adviser for further details.

Taxes

There are certain tax requirements of students and scholars in the US.

Depending on your income and funding status, you may be required to file a tax return, even if you are not employed in the USA.

For full details, please refer to your international student adviser and the Inland Revenue Service.

Employment

Do not exceed the work limits of your visa when seeking employment in the USA.

F-1 and J-1 visa holders are not allowed to undertake paid or unpaid work off campus at any time, but can work on campus up to:

  • 20 hours a week during term time
  • 40 hours a week during holidays

To find on-campus jobs, check first with your careers office and the jobs section of your university website. On-campus work does not mean you have to be employed by the university.

To be certain your visa status is not jeopardised, you should maintain regular contact with your designated school visa officer if you gain or change employment.