March 27, 2012

Visa Curbs: US, India firms seek Obama help

India's IT majors and their US clients and collaborators, including several large US corporations, have taken complaints about increasingly restrictive US visa policies to president Barack Obama, seeking his intervention to overcome curbs on incoming professional personnel from India.

At the heart of the grievance from companies in both countries is the "unprecedented delays and uncertainty" that US immigration authorities are creating around L-1 visas, which are used for intra-company transfers of employees from foreign offices to US offices. The companies say US immigration authorities are exceeding the law and misinterpreting rules in rejecting L-1 visa, affecting operations.

"Such delays or denials do not enhance compliance or enforcement and do nothing except disrupt carefully-laid business plans and create significant costs to the company and the economy," the companies said. Rejection rate of L-1 visas has gone up from 6% to 7% in 2008 to 27% in 2011, as per US immigration experts.

Signatories to the letter include a raft of US-based firms with large India operations such as Tata America International Corp, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Accenture, eBay, EMC, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard Co, Intel,

Microsoft , Texas Instruments, as well as Boeing, Dow Chemical , Caterpillar and Chevron USA. The letter is also backed by US chamber of commerce.

US immigration authorities have tightened interpretation of rules for L-1 and H1-B visas after complaints from lawmakers that Indian firms were misusing the visa category to undercut US wages and displace American workers . The issue is politically potent in an election year.

Signatories of the letter argue , that US immigration authorities have adopted an "inconsistent and improperly narrowed definition" of "specialized knowledge" , one of the requirements for issuance of an L-1 visa, according to ComputerWorld.

Courtesy: Times Of India

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March 25, 2012

List of Organizations offering funding for study in U.S

External funding organizations may include a wide range of professional, charitable or government organizations with a vested interest in supporting further education. Generally, external funding bodies award scholarships or financial awards that do not have to be repaid and do not come with any work requirements as you will see with university assistantships.

Following are the list of external bodies who offer funding for Study in U.S :
1. Funding for US Study (http://www.iie.org/en/Students/Tabs/International/Funding-for-US-Study)
2. International Education Financial Aid (http://www.iefa.org/)
3. eduPASS (http://www.edupass.org/finaid/)
4. Fulbright-Nehru Master's Fellowships for Leadership Development
5. International Fulbright Science and Technology Award for Outstanding Foreign Students
6. East West Center Graduate Degree Fellowship Programs
7. Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellowships
8. World Bank - www.worldbank.org/wbi/scholarships
9. PEO International - http://www.peointernational.org/
10. American Association of University Women - http://www.aauw.org/learn/fellows_directory/
11. Ford Foundation - http://www.fordifp.net/
12. EducationUSA - http://twitter.com/edUSAUpdates
13. Rotary Club - www.rotary.org

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March 22, 2012

Student Visa Tips from Monica Shie, a U.S Consular Officer

Visa Tips

Monica Shie serves as a Consular Officer at the U.S Embassy, New Delhi in India. She shared few general tips for students attending F-1 Visa Interview. The following are the important points in her own words:

Every day in New Delhi, eight or nine officers interview hundreds of people seeking visas to the United States. Because we try to serve as many applicants as we can, the interviews are quite short -- only two to three minutes. A lot of the information that we need is already there in your application, but we like to hear from you, personally, about your travel plans.

Sometimes, visa applicants bring stacks of documents, and they seem disappointed when we do not look at all that paperwork. But the idea of a personal interview is to speak with you face-to-face -- not to examine documents.

1. Our job is to uphold the law. Sometimes that means denying a visa. If you apply for a tourist visa, but we get the idea from the interview that you are really going to work at your uncle's pizza shop, then we will not issue the visa. Students who only apply to one school and cannot explain their choice are also unlikely to be granted a visa. It is important that your intentions match your visa category.

2. Many visa applicants pay consultants to prepare their applications. Although some consultants might provide helpful information, many do not. Remember that you alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information in your application. False information on the application or fake document packages could result in permanent ineligibility.

3. If you are a student, we expect you to be credible and qualified. You should be prepared to talk about why you chose the university that you plan to attend, and you should be able to explain how you will pay for your studies. It should be easy for us to believe that you will finish the degree at the institution you have selected, and we must be convinced that full-time study is the primary purpose of your travel.

4. It is best to apply early, but not before you have heard from your first-choice school. (Your visa will be annotated with the name of the school listed on your I-20 form at the time of your interview.) You can apply for a visa up to 120 days before your program is scheduled to begin. However, you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the report date for your course. If you are applying for graduate work, be sure to apply as early as you can, as sometimes administrative processing is required that might delay the issuance of your visa.

Nearly 104,000 Indians are currently studying in the United States. Like you, they were nervous when they faced the American visa officer behind the glass. The situation, admittedly, does not put one at ease.

However, if you know yourself to be a credible, qualified student, then you should have nothing to worry about. Take a deep breath, relax, and remember that the person behind the glass is there to help you. We are regular people too -- be just like you.

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F-1 Visa Interview with Six Backlogs

The following visa interview shared by Nitish. GRE2USA appreciates his time in writing this to us. If you did attend F-1 Visa interview recently, please e-mail us your visa experience at info@gre2usa.com

University                      : California state university, East Bay
U.S Consulate Location : Hyderabad
Student Profile               : B.Tech 55% with 6 Backlogs

The Visa interview went like this:

Me: Good morning madam.
VO: Good morning sir. May I have your application and passport?

Me: (Passed and She was busy typing in computer)

VO: Why U.S?
Me: U.S is recognized for global education and some other points

VO: Which course?
Me: ____

VO: Why this course?
Me: Because it support my area of interest

VO: Can I see your individual memos?
Me: ( Passed the memos )

She returned the memos after looking at them. After that she was talking to man behind her drinking coffee ( I thought she was discussing about profile with the person behind her who was listening to my interview right from beginning. After her discussions inside...)

VO: Who is sponsoring you?
Me: My parents got a liquid savings of XX lakhs

(..She was again talking to him...)

VO: Did you apply to any other course?
Me: What..?? ( Honestly, I did not understand, what she said )

VO: "Have you applied to any other course?"
Me: No. Just this ( Computer Science)

VO: May I know your interesting subjects for this course?
Me: ( Mentioned few subjects names of my interest which have good job opportunities back in India )

VO: Ok sir I'm issuing you visa. You will get it by post in in week
Me: Thank you madam.


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March 18, 2012

Visa Officer: May I see your bank balance sheet?

Hello everybody. Arjun shared his visa interview with us. We are looking to post more visa interview's for fall 2012.  We appreciate sharing your visa interview experience info@gre2usa.com . His visa interview went like this:

Me    : Good afternoon sir
VO   : Good afternoon, may I see your passport?

Me    : Forwarded the passport(then he asked for finger prints)
VO   : Why do you want to go to U.S?

ME   : I would like to study Masters in Electronic engineering
VO   : What did you study in your undergraduation

ME   : I studied instrumentation, that's a combination of electronics and electrical
VO   : When did you finish undergraduation?

ME   : April 2008
VO   : What did you do in this one year?

ME   : I completed a PLC course from ATI (then he continued more academic questons like what specialization, why this specializaton, how come you know about this university, why this university only, then he asked for individual memos after asking how many backlogs)
VO   : Who is sponsoring you?

ME   : Sir my parents
VO   : How can they support your education?

ME   : My father has a liquid cash savings of about __ lacks and immovable assets of ___crore rupees
VO   : May I see your balance sheet

ME   : Here I got confused thinking what is a balance sheet. Then I passed CA report.
VO   : Not this. I need bank balance sheet

ME   : Then I passed trasaction sheets of my father account(genuine), he checked it and busy with all papers
VO   : Sir your visa is approved, your passport will be couriered in a week. Enjoy the stay in U.S

ME   : Thank you sir




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March 17, 2012

Self-check your Employment Status through E-Verify from any part of U.S

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 9 that Self Check, http://www.uscis.gov/selfcheck, a free online service of E-Verify that allows workers to check their own employment eligibility status, is now available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. Self Check was developed through a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide individuals a tool to check their own employment eligibility status, as well as guidance on how to correct their DHS and SSA records. It is the first online E-Verify service offered directly to workers.Available in English and Spanish, Self Check enables individuals to enter the same information into Self Check that employers enter into E-Verify.

Since the program's inception, thousands of individuals have used Self Check, available in English and Spanish, to access their federal employment eligibility records and for guidance on how to correct potential record discrepancies prior to the hiring process.In August 2011, Self Check became a bi-lingual service available to users in both English and Spanish, broadening the scope of the program to members of U.S. workforce who are more comfortable reading Spanish-language .

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March 15, 2012

Video: Guidance on filling U.S Visa DS-160 online form

I could sense the U.S Visa fever around. You folks might have set with all your admissions by this time. The next step is to pick the best among your admits and take the Visa interview.
So, with the above post you understood that selecting a Certified University from U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement is vital.
Great! You verified that your interested school is SEVP Certified. The next step is to attend U.S Visa interview with your favourite admit.

Attending a Visa interview involves the following steps:
  1. Paying SEVIS fee
  2. Filling DS-160 online form
  3. Making visa interview appointment through vfs website
  4. Preparing the documents for Visa interview
  5. Attending Visa Interview on a scheduled date and time
You will have to pay the SEVIS fee online using a credit card at www.fmjfee.com . Once you done with paying SEVIS fee, the next step is to fill the online DS-160 form at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/.
Watch the following video to get an understanding on how to fill an On-line DS-160 form. Video courtersy by Right directions Consultants.


Things to keep ready before the start of the application:
  • Passport 
  • SEVIS Number on your i-20
  • HDFC SEVIS payment receipt with sticker
  • A Digital photograph with a white / light background loaded on computer( file size must not exceed 240 KB )
  • A Current address
  • Your previous travel details to U.S if any
  • Details of relatives in U.S if any
  • Work/Training details if any .....
NOTE: Session will time for every 20 minutes. So, make sure you save the application from time to time.
If you are ready with all the above mentioned details, go ahead and start filling your DS-160 form. You could use the above video as reference.
Now please don't forget to share this with your friends. Use the floating tabs to share and recommend this post on Google by hitting +1. I am going to guide you all through your efforts to study and to have a Career in U.S . Stay tuned for upcoming posts by subscribing to our E-mail News Letter at top right to find how to tackle a U.S visa interview and Visa interview experiences for fall 2012 semester.




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March 13, 2012

Check your interested University, SEVP Certified or Not

U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE
Yesterday I published a post, "After effects of choosing a wrong school: A True Story", which explained the  importance of selecting the right University. This post grabbed the highest number of visits from audience than any other previous posts.

After reading the above post, you might have understood the adverse effects of choosing a non-certified school. Please be advised that only Schools certified by Student and Exchange Visitor Program( SEVP ) are authorized to accept international students. But now, you folks might have a question in mind. "How and where could I check my interested university is recognised by SEVP or not?". I thought my duty is not to scare you with weird incidents happened in U.S, but to show a solution to get rid of them. If you are awaiting the solution, please continue reading.

The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement( ICE ) recently initiated a featured option in their website to verify whether a University is certified by SEVP or not. Please follow this link "Verify your interested University is SEVP certified or Not" and enter a university name in the search tab. If that matches with their SEVP database entities, it will automatically display that University name with its complete address and contact details. If you have any queries on this, don't hesitate to leave a comment.

If you believe this post is important for your friends who are planning to study in U.S, please don't forget to share this.




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March 12, 2012

After effects of choosing wrong school: A True Story

Trivalley University

One of our friends shared his own story. Respecting his privacy we are keeping him as an anonymous. The entire story is in his own words:
It's well know that destination US is a dream to most of the youth in India. I was one among them.
Year 2010:
I scored 920 in GRE and 90 in TOEFL. I took the visa appointment and had Visa interview. The Visa officer did not ask anything except B.Tech aggregate, nature of my previous job experience. VISA stamped for Florida International University, Miami for 3 years.

I was finally landed in US. A new place, new people and everything new. I was a little worried in the beginning. But my friends helped alot. But at the end of the da I was not able to adjust with that new place.


One morning I went to the University and transferred to Tri-Valley University. Besides working in a gas station, I completed the Summer and Spring semesters.

Finished 2 semesters in Tri Valley University and planned to take a break in Spring. In the mean time rumours came around my place that the Tri Valley University is going to shut down. But friends used to tell that Tri-Valley university has 3500 enrolled students and don't believe those. In December worked for more hours at part time and made $2500. Saved around $10,000 on my bank account.

2011, Worst Phase of my Life:
Its january 19th morning 5:30AM, I was in deep sleep. Heard a sound like someone banging the doors. I was scared thinking a burglar. After some time, slowly opened the door, " Hey we are from Immigration Department" and the conversation went like this:

Officer: Hey is this your name? ( Showing a paper )
Me     :  Yes.

Officer: Are you a Tri-Valley University student?
Me     : Yes

Officer: How do you know about this university?
Me     : It is one of the universities from ICE approved schools list

They interrogated me for around one and half minute and still continued......

Officer: TVU is a black listed university. We are giving 45 days time to go back to country.
Me     : (Thinking the rumour became true and being helpless) , said "OK"

Officer: If you don't leave we will deport.
Me     : Ok sir.

Finally they left. I didn't care much at that time, thinking getting late for the part time job, so I got ready. When I was about to start to job, I heard the same door banging sound again.

Officer: Our boss wants to talk to you. He is looking at possibility of deporting you right now. Will you co-operate with us and come to our office?
Me     : I was shocked and mentioned " You gave us 45 days time and now you are talking in a different manners. All right lets move."

They placed handcuffs, infact even to legs.

Officer:  Sir, its our rule and we have to follow this.
Me     : Ok

Again they interrogated for another 30 minutes and took fingerprints. I saw one more guy from TVU who already there. They showed us a room and asked to sit there.

One hour...Two hours...Three hours passed. Finally I went in.

Me      : You called us to talk something. What about it?
Officer: My boss is in the meeting. Once he is done, he will be back.

Waited for another two hours and all of a sudden we heard the shocking news. Pointing at both of us he said "We terminated your SEVIS as you didn't maintain the status and you are not allowed to go out now. We are taking you guys into custody and the arrest warrant was issued." In addition they also gave penalty bond of $20,000 to each of us.

Me        : Officer I will go back to my country. I will book the flight immediately. Please don't charge us.

Officer   :  There are a lot of formalities to be done inorder to release you and send you back to your country. If you know any attorney, contact him.

" Shocked.............!!!!!!! shocked..............!!!!!!!!! shocked...........!!!!!!!!!! "

I didn't even know, what does an attorney mean by that time. My friend told, attorney is a lawyer. We left alone and helpless. They took us to a detention centre ( Immigration prison ). I was crying the whole night, didn't know how to respond to the situation. Next morning we requested a cop to give the Chicago embassy  phone number. He gave and we tried a lot but they didn't respond at all. We both guys have a penalty bond of 20,000$ each. We spent a week in that prison.

In the mean time my friends collected $20,000. The immigration officials released the other guy after 9 days. Now I was the only one in that cell suffering from high fever. One more weeked went. Fortunately, my friends responded well to the situation and they started collecting money from all the sources they know.

Finally with the order of Indian external affairs minister and hillary clinton's advice, they released me and another 50 students on feb 3rd.

Friends coming to US may be a good idea but coming to a right school is even more important. I pray god that no one else would suffer like this. Do an appropriate research about the university you are planning to attend, talk to seniors who already studied there. Please be advised that only the schools which are certified by Student and Exchange visitor program are authorized to accept international students.

Friends please don't forget to share this with your friends who are planning to come to USA.

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March 08, 2012

101 Money Saving Tips for Students in USA

101 Money Saving Tips

Thanks to Uday Karthik for sharing this post with us.

Planning and Budget
1. Track every penny you spend (Use mint.com)
2. Make a budget and stick to it.
3. Monthly expenses will increase gradually as time.
4. Open Online Savings Account to deposit money over $2000.
5. Checkings account doesn’t pay interest.
6. Savings account offered by traditional banks give less than .25% interest.
7. Don’t buy things you cannot afford.
8. Always looks for deal before buy any product and shop online.
9. Before placing order, try to find additional coupon code.
10. Find a job and apply for SSN(SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER).

Credit cards and Credit History
1. Apply for Credit Card as soon you get your SSN.
2. American Express Blue for Students, Citi Student Cards are good place to start.
3. Don’t apply for multiple cards. Just 1 card should be enough.
4. Use the credit card to make day to day purchases.
5. Use your card only if you have money in you checkings account.
6. Pay your card in full every month.
7. Using credit cards build your credit history.
8. Good credit history = high credit score
9. high credit score= low loan interest rates in future
10. You will get loan to buy a car once you get the job
11. Good Credit history = low security deposit (apartments, utilities,..)
12. It’s bad to carry balance in credit cards.
13. Understand how credit card payment and interest are calculated.
14. Don’t play balance transfer games
15. Don’t apply for credit cards because you get $100 free or free t-shirt

Credit Score
1. FICO credit score ranges between 300 to 850
2. Excellent Credit Score = Above 740
3. It takes time to build credit score along with credit history
4. Credit score is determined by
1. how you pay the bills
2. credit to debit ratio (credit limit to your balance)
3. length of credit history
4. types of credit accounts (credit card, car loan, mortgage, utilities)
5. Credit scores are reported by 3 credit buearues
a. Trans Union
b. Equifax
c. Experyouyouian
6. Don’t mess with credit cards and credit history
7. Don’t play games with credit card offers (balance transfer)
8. Understand how credit score works.
9. spending time to learn about credit score will save you lot of money in long run.
10. Don’t apply for too many credit cards for zero percentage APR or balance transfer.

Monthly Expenses
1. Create a group at Billmonk.com or Splitcost.net(out of service) to maintain records of your room   expenses.
2. Clearly define a cycle on who is going to pay for expense in what order
3. It’s good to have atleast one account in your name (power, gas, internet, tv, ..)
4. Don’t be silly in sharing few cents or dollars.
5. First month expense will be high.

Bank Accounts
1. Don’t open several checkings account.
2. Open one account that has ATM near your campus.
3. Try to use online transfer (check books are expensive and save paper)
4. Sign-up for paperless statements (Go Green and Save paper)
5. Frequently check your bank balances and recent activities
6. Referring customers will get you $25 to $50 (try to refer new students)
7. Open ONLY free checking account
8. Free Checkings account will not pay any interest.
9. If there is nearby credit union, check if they have interest paying account.
10. Right now you can get 1 to 1.5% interest in some account types.

Shopping and Deals
1. If you paying online, make sure webpage is secure (https vs http)
2. Always try to buy electronics items online
3. Looks for cashback, coupon codes and deals
4. You can always find coupons and deals for the product you plan to buy.
5. If you don’t find a deal, keep looking for deals.
6. Amazon Student has many deals (Amazon Prime is free for 1 year with student id)
7. Have a list before going for shopping.
8. Don’t go for shopping when you are hungry.
9. Cigarettes, alcohols are expensive ( I know you may not agree)
10. Get books from seniors (or buy used books or lower edition)

Grocery Shopping
1. Compare grocery prices in nearby stores
2. Get Sams, Costco or BJ’c membership
3. Usually Membership comes with 2 cards (share with 2 households)
4. Save lot of money by shopping in Farmers Market
5. Find coupons for grocery shopping (newspaper, weekly newsletter)
6. Coupons combined with weekly sales = SAVINGS!
7. Join rewards program in local chain store
8. Try to cook at home daily (create a schedule)
9. Take seniors with your for first few trip to grocery store.
10. Don’t try to save on essential food items.
11. Use Unit price to compare prices.
12. Local store will do price match
13. Make a list and track the prices.
14. Some items will have lower prices during certain times of the day.
15. Look for quick sale rack for close out items.

Utilities
1. Unplug chargers, unused electrical items from power outlet. Save 5% of your electric bill.
2. Switch off Lights and Fans when room is not used
3. Maintain comfortable temperature to save on Power and Gas
4. Ask for deals on Internet, Phone and Cable TV
5. Look for services you don’t use in the bill and remove them.

Miscellaneous Tips
1. Beware of free service offers or programs
2. Always read the fine print before you sing-up for any service.
3. If you making big ticket purchase, know the return/refund policy.
4. Buy clothes/dress ONLY during sale.
5. Pay more to get better quality items, than cheap items for less (lasts longer)
6. Try to use library (school and community)
7. Don’t get caught downloading movies, songs and software.
8. Don’t try to save money by not taking Health Insurance coverage.
9. If you are sick go to hospital. Don’t try to save money by not going to hospital.
10. University campus will have a medical clinic.
11. Membership club will have samples to taste. Try it before buying new items.
12. Working outside campus is illegal while in F1 Visa
13. Earning money through business like quixtar is violation of your status.
14. Always there will be an alternate brand with lower prices.
15. Don’t use same username and password for all websites.
16. Have 2 to 3 sets of usernames and passwords.
17. Its good idea to have a spread sheet that contains url, password hint and email used for account registration.
18. Don’t carry SSN card with you.
19. Don’t waste hours of time to save few cents looking for deals.
20. Use your common sense approach towards money, personal finance.

For  new students and others visiting USA for the first time, life will look  overwhelming. More than 100 tips presented here should set you on the right track. When  you are not sure about anything ask for help. Sometimes small mistakes can turn to be expensive. If you have additional tips, please share with us in the comment section below. 

Now please don't forget to share this with your friends who are planning to come to U.S .





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March 02, 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview has launched

A big leap for Microsoft on a leap day. Microsoft launched the most awaited Windows 8 customer preview software. There are few interesting things we need to talk about Windows 8. The very first thing is the logo. Microsoft changed its windows colorful flag logo to a tile structured window colored with azure( a kind of aqua blue color )

windows 8 logo

Interesting  features of Windows 8 that have to be discussed:
The interface is optimized for touch. Although you can use a mouse there is an overwhelming urge to be able to manipulate it via touch. Unfortunately, many users computers are not equipped with touchscreens to make this possible. Because of  the changes to make for a more tablet like interface, interacting with the OS itself is radically different from even Windows 7. The Start Menu is gone and in its place is the Start Screen, a full screen menu populated with app tiles rather than the familiar selection list.

Windows 8 Screen Shot 2

You will find that often there is a completely new way to do something you've done many times before in previous Windows versions; Although at first it seems a hindrance many tasks can be achieved quickly after familiarizing yourself with the new app screen.

Windows 8 Screen shot 2

The desktop still exists; icons, shortcuts, the task bar, all still available for use beneath the new Metro interface, but you can't rely on the desktop alone as there is no Start Menu just the aforementioned App Screen.
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