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The CPA test for
international students
By Adam Greene CPA
Image courtesy of
www.pexels.com
at Pexels.com
So what happens if you want to become a CPA in the
United States but you live abroad? Or what happens when
you are actually in the United States and want to become a
CPA but you have a different nationality?
Adam Greene understands what it is to become a CPA and
understand that the process is not easy. For international
students, the process is a bit annoying and sometimes
frustrating and they really have to be aware of many
requirements in order to apply for and receive the CPA
certificate . let’s take a look at some of the many things
International students need to have in order to get the CPA
certificate and work within the United States.
The first thing international applicants need to know is that
the application process is the same anywhere in the world
and it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you
are. There are 3Es that every candidate needs to fulfill:
Education, Examination, and Experience. Education means
that the candidates need to have at least a 4-year bachelor
degree from an accredited institution and also have 150
credit hours of general coursework; Examination means
that candidates need to pass the 4-part Uniform CPA Exam
with good marks and with the required minimum score;
and experience means that each candidate needs to have
at least 1 to 2 years of relevant accounting experience
verified by a US CPA.
The good news on this 3E topic is that each state within the
United States has their own rules for CPA licenses and
jurisdictions. The rules are slightly different and this causes a
great deal of confusion, and also creates opportunities for
people who can’t meet all the 3E.
Some of the challenges that foreigners face when they apply are
that maybe the candidate does not exactly fit a typical
accounting student in the US. For example: some students are
educated outside of the US, and it is most likely that the school
where they went to is not regionally accredited or it is simply
not a 4-year degree.
There are many types of international students coming into the
US looking to work as CPAs. The first type of student is the
International Student that holds a working Visa in the US. If this
student completes 100% of his or her coursework in the US, the
application will be exactly the same as any other domestic
student. If the student completed part of his or her coursework
outside the US, they would have to send the non-US transcripts
so they can be evaluated by the state boards.
The second type of international students is the H4 Visa
Holders with Accounting Background. These students need
to go through a credential evaluation agency in order to
get their transcripts translated into English. The cost of this
is between $150-250.
Some of the most common obstacles in this type of
application are that H4 visa holders have to show a valid
SSN – Social Security Number and these types of student
generally don’t have SSN. All the states ask for these
requirements but there are some of them that can waive
this requirement if the candidate sends a letter explaining
the reasons why they do not have a SSN.
Another obstacle is the work experience that candidates
need to show and they are not allowed to work. In this
case candidates have two options:
They can choose a state that doesn’t ask for working
experience to their CPAs. ( two examples of this is the
inactive license in Guam and the non-reporting license in
Massachusetts). The idea is to apply for the full license
status when the visa is changed to a working visa or to the
green card. North Dakota is another option because it
allows non-CPA to supervise and verify the candidate´s
experience and they accept work done in the candidate´s
home country.
The other option is that candidates can volunteer for an
organization that allows them to work under a US CPA. The
problem with this approach is that there is a very thin line
between working as a volunteer and a paid opportunity and it
could bring a lot of trouble to the candidate. In that case, many
H4 visa holders look for work or volunteer work in places such
as religious or social organizations so they can fulfill the
experience requirement.
For the people that already have a master’s degree in
accounting, taxation, finance or business administration,
fulfilling the 50 credit-hour educational requirements is easy,
because 150 credit hour is the same as 5 years of tertiary
education.
So, if you are thinking about coming to the United States to
work as a CPA, here are some of the basics to keep in mind.
Be sure to also check this article on CPA requirements for New
York State

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The CPA test for international students

  • 1. The CPA test for international students By Adam Greene CPA Image courtesy of www.pexels.com at Pexels.com
  • 2. So what happens if you want to become a CPA in the United States but you live abroad? Or what happens when you are actually in the United States and want to become a CPA but you have a different nationality? Adam Greene understands what it is to become a CPA and understand that the process is not easy. For international students, the process is a bit annoying and sometimes frustrating and they really have to be aware of many requirements in order to apply for and receive the CPA certificate . let’s take a look at some of the many things International students need to have in order to get the CPA certificate and work within the United States.
  • 3. The first thing international applicants need to know is that the application process is the same anywhere in the world and it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are. There are 3Es that every candidate needs to fulfill: Education, Examination, and Experience. Education means that the candidates need to have at least a 4-year bachelor degree from an accredited institution and also have 150 credit hours of general coursework; Examination means that candidates need to pass the 4-part Uniform CPA Exam with good marks and with the required minimum score; and experience means that each candidate needs to have at least 1 to 2 years of relevant accounting experience verified by a US CPA.
  • 4. The good news on this 3E topic is that each state within the United States has their own rules for CPA licenses and jurisdictions. The rules are slightly different and this causes a great deal of confusion, and also creates opportunities for people who can’t meet all the 3E. Some of the challenges that foreigners face when they apply are that maybe the candidate does not exactly fit a typical accounting student in the US. For example: some students are educated outside of the US, and it is most likely that the school where they went to is not regionally accredited or it is simply not a 4-year degree. There are many types of international students coming into the US looking to work as CPAs. The first type of student is the International Student that holds a working Visa in the US. If this student completes 100% of his or her coursework in the US, the application will be exactly the same as any other domestic student. If the student completed part of his or her coursework outside the US, they would have to send the non-US transcripts so they can be evaluated by the state boards.
  • 5. The second type of international students is the H4 Visa Holders with Accounting Background. These students need to go through a credential evaluation agency in order to get their transcripts translated into English. The cost of this is between $150-250. Some of the most common obstacles in this type of application are that H4 visa holders have to show a valid SSN – Social Security Number and these types of student generally don’t have SSN. All the states ask for these requirements but there are some of them that can waive this requirement if the candidate sends a letter explaining the reasons why they do not have a SSN.
  • 6. Another obstacle is the work experience that candidates need to show and they are not allowed to work. In this case candidates have two options: They can choose a state that doesn’t ask for working experience to their CPAs. ( two examples of this is the inactive license in Guam and the non-reporting license in Massachusetts). The idea is to apply for the full license status when the visa is changed to a working visa or to the green card. North Dakota is another option because it allows non-CPA to supervise and verify the candidate´s experience and they accept work done in the candidate´s home country.
  • 7. The other option is that candidates can volunteer for an organization that allows them to work under a US CPA. The problem with this approach is that there is a very thin line between working as a volunteer and a paid opportunity and it could bring a lot of trouble to the candidate. In that case, many H4 visa holders look for work or volunteer work in places such as religious or social organizations so they can fulfill the experience requirement. For the people that already have a master’s degree in accounting, taxation, finance or business administration, fulfilling the 50 credit-hour educational requirements is easy, because 150 credit hour is the same as 5 years of tertiary education. So, if you are thinking about coming to the United States to work as a CPA, here are some of the basics to keep in mind. Be sure to also check this article on CPA requirements for New York State