What's it all about? An Intro to Life Beyond Academia (Read this First)

  • Context: Guides to pursuing a career in architecture or related fields
        - Become an Architect: The Basics
  • Young Architect's Booklist about entering architectural practice
        - From John Wiley & Sons
  • International Students
    Information for international students with F-1 visas can be found at the following sites:

    1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
    General information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1270.html 
    Forms: https://www.uscis.gov/forms  

    2. State Department: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1270.html  
     
    Work while in school: International students may be allowed to work on-campus or off-campus (after the completion of the first year of study) under limited circumstances. Please see the rules on student employment in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR 214.2 (f) . Students may also wish to discuss employment with the designated school official (DSO) at the school. Accompanying spouses and children may not accept employment.

    Work for one year after graduation: International students are allowed to stay in the United States for as long as they are enrolled full-time in an educational program and making normal progress toward completing a course of study. If approved, they also will be allowed to stay in the country up to twelve additional months beyond the completion of studies to pursue practical training. At the end of your studies or practical training, international students will be given sixty days to prepare to leave the country. See 8 CFR § 214.2 for more complete time limits.

    Required Forms: Students with F-1 visas must use recommendations by the designated school official on Form I-201D, along with Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," to apply for employment authorization from the INS. The instructions on the Form I-765 should answer any of your questions about the student employment, and filing fees required, and where to file the application.

    Staying long enough to complete AXP: To stay more than the one year allowed under an F-1 visa, graduates need to obtain an H1-B visa. This allows up to six years of employment. The process of filing an H1-B visa application is quite complicated. Graduates or their employers should hire immigration lawyers to file the H1-B applications and take care of all the legal issues regarding work and tax status.

    Process: The preferred way (and in many states the only way) to become a licensed architect in the United States is through the AXP program run by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

    Permission: In order to work, you need legal permission to do so. Your student visa will only allow you to work for one year after graduation, and then only if approved in advanced. Beyond that, you will need to get an H1-B visa. As suggested above, you might be better off finding an American firm with an office in your home country. Work there under the supervision of an American registered architect (it doesn't matter in which state he or she is registered). That way you shouldn't need a visa (confirm this with the firm) and all your work will count toward AXP.

    Getting a license in your home country: Unless your home is in Canada, having a license to practice architecture in any American state will probably not help your licensure back home.
    Information for U.S. Citizens interested in working overseas can be found at the following private organizations:

    Escape Artist: http://www.escapeartist.com/jobs/overseas1.htm  
    International jobs: http://www.internationaljobs.org/  

    Permission to work abroad: Permission is up to the foreign government, not the United States. Anyone interested in overseas employment must satisfy the visa and employment requirements of the country in which they intend to work. In many countries this is extremely difficult to do. It is often much easier to work in the overseas office of an American firm, since the firm will have already obtained permission to open an office in that country and maintain a limited American staff there.

    Can I get a license in the U.S. even though I'm not a citizen?

    Licensure is granted by individual states and has nothing to do with citizenship. On the other hand, you can't get licensed without work experience. If not a citizen, you will have to have the kind of visa that includes legal permission to work.

    Must I do my internship AXP in the U.S. or can I complete it in another country? Are there restrictions?
    Work as an architect in another country can count toward American licensure in the following ways:
    Work under the direct supervision of an architect licensed in any U.S. state.
    Work under the direct supervision of an architect not licensed in the U.S.
    Work in the construction industry for an American or foreign company without supervision by a licensed architect.
    If I complete AXP working in a foreign country, where will I take my exam and in what state will I be licensed if I pass?
    You can take the ARE in any number of foreign countries. It is completely computer-based and offered through Prometric Learning Centers in hundreds of locations all over the world. It is the same exam no matter what state grants your license. You will be licensed in whichever state you designate to be your state of licensure on the examination application.

    Visit the website of the UIA, the Union Internationale des Architectes (or as we say here in the U.S., the Union of International Architects), at http://www.uia.org.

    Check with the architectural registration board in your home country, and with your own embassy or consulate.