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attending FCI as an international student - help!

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I'm currently a 3rd year undergrad student at the University of Toronto studying biochemistry and human biology to become a doctor. Although my grades are sufficient enough for me to continue in this direction, I did not sign up for the fall semester and I've decided to pursue what I really love to do and attend the French Culinary Institute of New York.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the support from my parents and I now support myself by working full-time. I have enough savings for the FCI tuition fee, but I will still need to work in order to pay for housing and other necessities. My concern is, since I'm Canadian, is it possible to obtain a working visa while having a student visa? And I mean, even if it's possible, is it realistic? If this is not an option, would there be another way for me to make money there while attending school? I'm sure there are ways to make money, but I mean legitimately?

Another concern is, after graduation, would any restaurant hire me and sponsor me for a visa? Have you heard of any international culinary students being sponsored by a restaurant? Attending culinary school in Canada, or moving back to Canada after graduating from FCI would not be an option, as what I really want is to attend FCI and work in New York for good. Would there be an alternate way, like obtaining a working visa or applying for citizenship and is this realistic? Has anyone here been through a similar work situation in the States or know someone who went through a similar situation?

Any suggestion or advice would be greatly appreciated! I'm going to New York in a few weeks to tour FCI and to discuss the situation in person, but I would like to see first if I can get any advice before going to New York. Sorry for the long post and thanks for your time.

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  1. Have you ever worked in a kitchen before? I would seriously consider it before giving up your current studies.

    Don't let FCI tell you that you need the degree before you go cook.

    Maybe find a restaurant in Toronto that would let you stage (intern) for a few weeks or months so you can get your feet wet. Several people I went to culinary school with have bowed out of the industry because it wasn't quite what they expected. I'm not trying to discourage you, but just want you to be aware of the realities of working in a kitchen. I remember someone else on Chow saying you had to be at least 2 of three things : young, crazy, or alcoholic.

    1 Reply
    1. kimmich,

      In terms of your questions about working in the US/visa/etc, I am sorry to say I don't think it looks too good. Unlike in Canada, international students are not granted student work visas. Furthermore, here is a quote from a site www. internationalstudent.com:

      "The "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay."

      Getting sponsored for a work visa is very difficult.

      I hate to add to the discouraging replies, but it seems your concern about this aspect of your plan is well-founded. I wish you luck. Maybe the folks at FCI will have some ideas, or maybe you should consult with an immigration expert/attorney.