On visas and things

If you're an international student considering HR you've probably got a whole heap more questions that the average applicant. Here're some pointers that might help you out.

Visa Waivers

All up, Hack Reactor is a 13-week programme (six weeks for the first half, sometimes a week in the middle, and six weeks for the latter half). This may change a little once in a while (e.g., I'm not sure if the school stays open during Christmas) but it'll be the case more often than not.

If you're from a rich country, you're eligible for a 90-day visa on arrival. This is the most tempting option but I don't recommend it. Most of the time you'll need to overstay the 90-day cap and this lead to a generally unpleasant experience. You might not feel like it now, but you'll want to spend a stress-free week or two with your cohort mates once you've finished.


Instead, I recommend that most people shoot for a B2 (extended tourist) visa. These are generally granted for six months, and aren't too difficult to obtain. You'll have to make an appointment at your local US embassy and pay a couple of hundred dollars. Provided you can demonstrate that:

  1. you have enough money to fund your trip and
  2. you have a life in your home country (spouse, house, job, etc)

you probably won't have any trouble.

For a quick overview of the sorts of questions you'll be expected to have answers for, check out this link.

Your interviewing officer will usually tell you right away that your visa's been granted, and from that moment you can reasonably expect to have your passport back in your hands within about a week. That said, please don't leave your application for the last minute—that's virtually guaranteed to cause you untold quantities of grief.

But... but... student visa?

At the time of this writing, Hack Reactor is not an accredited educational institution, and as such, it cannot provide you with an F1 (student) visa. My understanding of the visa system is that you do not need a student visa to do a short, informal, non-accredited course at an institution that cannot provide student visas anyway. I'm reasonably confident about this because during my working visa interview (tale for another post) my interviewing officer asked me about my previous trips to the US, and didn't seem to care at all when I told her about Hack Reactor.

But I want to work in the US

This is necessarily going to be a two-step process for you, then, and the outcome of the latter step is pretty hard to forecast.

You will almost certainly have to get a B2 visa, because you'll need three months to complete Hack Reactor, and in all likelihood, need a reasonable length of time afterwards to interview at a bunch of companies. If you're from Australia of Canada, and you have a degree in a technical subject, you've got a reasonable chance of employment in the US. Otherwise, from my observations, your chances aren't too hot.

I'll do another post on the job-hunting process for Aussie HR grads later this week. For now, if you feel like I've left anything out that might be useful, leave a comment or ping me and I'll be happy to flesh this puppy out.