Dear Mentor:

Should I use the international application form?

After reading the information on student visas to the United States, I would like to ask the following. I am Lebanese national, living in the Sultanate of Oman, holder of a Green Card and white passport (reentry permit) valid for two years, as my parents are completing their contracts in Oman. What type of application form should I use to apply for university -- the international or local ones? Thanks.

Which Am I?, Sultanate of Oman

Dear Which Am I?:

Before we respond to you letter, we recommend that you contact prospective schools to get the final word on which forms you should fill out. We shall provide you with our answer here, with the reasons for our thinking.

The information that you have provided is somewhat limited. We are also concerned about the consistent use of terminology between you and us. Thus we shall explain what we mean by the terms we use in our assumptions and response.

We are assuming that by "Green Card," you mean Green Card for the US. A US Green Card is a permanent residency permit. Consequently, the holder of Green Card is often referred to as a permanent resident of the US. In many ways, it is similar to being a citizen, except that it does not permit the holder to vote. Another exception is that the Green Card holder must be in good standing, which is accomplished by residing in the US for at least 6 months for any one-year period. One can get an exemption from this requirement, for certain valid reasons, by applying to the US Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS). So we are assuming that you have a 2-year exemption from the INS for this residency requirement (referred to by you as the white passport); that is, you can be away from the US for a 2-year period without forfeiting your Green Card. As a result, when you return to the US within the allotted exemption period, you can stay in the US permanently.

Now, if our preceding assumptions and explanation are correct, then you can use the same application forms for admission applications as are used by local students. The additional requirements for international students are necessary, because they need to get temporary residency permit from the INS to enter and remain in the US for the purpose of studies. You do not need such permit, if in fact your Green Card is in good standing.

While applying to public universities (government supported universities), you would however be considered as an out-of-state student (not out-of-country student or international student). Out-of-state students typically pay significantly higher tuition in public universities than those who are residents of the state. To be considered a resident of the state, one typically must have lived in the state for at least a period of one year. This difference in tuition due to residency does not apply to private universities.

We wish you prosperous education in the US.

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