Following the strict immigration policies drafted by US President Donald Trump’s administration to promote the ‘Buy American Hire American’ policy, a new policy memorandum has been put forth that comes down heavily on students and professionals, who overstay their study tenure in the US. The policy that will come into effect from August 9, 2018 proposes to change the method of calculating the number of days that a student overstays in the US after the expiry of his/her visa status.

The USCIS, in its mission to maintain the integrity of the immigration system, considers that the F1 non-immigrants, who are permitted to enter the US for pursuing their studies, should depart or obtain another lawful immigration status like the H-1B visa within the stipulated 60 days of the completion of the program and any OPT that the student may desire to pursue. Overstaying this period or failing to acquire the H-1B visa status would be considered as an “unlawful presence” in the US and could result in a bar of 3 years or 10 years from entering the US.

This is a departure from the current regulation, where students who violate the terms of their status are not considered to have an unlawful presence unless an immigration judge or USCIS deemed them of a status violation. In this case, the count begins from the date of the “finding” of the status violation and if it crosses 180 days or one year since the order, then the student would be levied with the 3 or 10-year ban from re-entering the US.

So when exactly does a student’s status change from lawful to unlawful under the new regulations? It is important to note that students on F-1 status are not given a fixed date of expiration of status on their I-94, but are instead given a designation of ‘duration of status’ or D/S, which implies the duration of their lawful presence covers their program and OPT period.

Under the new policy memorandum, individuals with the F, J, or M status, who do not maintain their status on or after Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing ‘unlawful presence’ on any of the following:

  • The day after the student no longer pursues the program or the authorized activity, or the day after he/she engages in unauthorized activity;
  • The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period;
  • The day after the I-94 expires; or
  • The day after an immigration judge, or in certain cases, the BIA, orders them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

The public has until June 11, 2018, to comment on the memo and it will come into effect on August 9, 2018.

With the new regulation that will come into effect on 9 August 2018, if you as an F1 student, have completed your program and not started OPT within 60 days of graduation, your stay is considered “unlawful”. If you end up overstaying after this by more than 180 days after the grace period (usually 60 days) and then depart from the US, then you could face a 3-year ban from re-entry. If you overstay for more than 1 year, whether accrued during a single visit or multiple stays in the US, then you cannot re-enter for 10 years. In this case, the count of unlawful status would commence after the 2 month grace period, which is provided to change your visa status to a lawful one or depart from the country.

The new policy may create hurdles if students exceed the 60-day grace period after their program ends, or in some cases, after the OPT ends. They may fall out of status while they are applying for a change of visa status like the H-1B. Due to this, students may have second thoughts about pursuing studies in the US and realizing their dreams of a bright future. However, our counsellors advocate that you can still study at a coveted university in the US and secure a bright future by following a few ground rules. Students should not be disheartened as the current regulation is not a significant deviation from the earlier one.

Should you require more information, do consult our counsellors, who will provide further insights on the subject.

In a bid to provide more job opportunities to Americans, Trump’s string of H-1B visa policy proposals have been steadily rocking the boat for H-1B aspirants in India and the beneficiaries working in the US. Close on the heels of the proposal for strict work requirement and qualification screening for H1B Visa applicants, the Trump administration has revoked spouse work permit of the H-1B visa holder, also known as the H4 EAD, which was earlier granted to spouses of H1B visa beneficiaries during the Obama regime in 2014. This has further compounded the issue with lakhs of Indians rethinking about their future in the US. Aspiring Indian professionals, who wish to take up jobs through the H-1B and H4 EAD, are suddenly riddled with doubts of gaining access to secure work opportunities in the US.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that the government’s proposal to end work authorisation for spouses of H-1B workers in America is aimed at giving a boost to the Donald Trump government’s ‘Buy American Hire American’ policy. A mandatory response period has been provided to facilitate public feedback and representation before finalizing these policies.

While H-1B aspirants in India and the ones currently working in the US have been left baffled by the targeted approach of the Trump government, political hardliners put down Trump’s favourite agenda items on immigration as a means to gaining political mileage and winning the votes of American high tech workers in the forthcoming midterm elections in November.

Meanwhile, it is definitely worth noting that the stringent H-1B visa regulations call for the employment of ‘high skilled’ foreign workers by US businesses, which is undeniably changing the definition of the speciality occupations. H-1B aspirants need to pursue graduate programs in US universities that suit specific job requirements so that they do not lose out on work opportunities. The same could also apply for the H4 EAD – H1B visa holder’s spouse work permit restriction. By pursuing a degree in a specific skill class like Data Science, Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Information Security, Robotics or others, the spouses of H-1B visa beneficiaries can then take the H-1B visa route themselves and apply for jobs in the USA.

Trump’s immigration policies notwithstanding, the shortage of a skilled American high tech work force still looms large amidst such proposals. So there is much optimism that with the right skill-sets, aspirants have every chance of being absorbed in high-skilled positions in American companies. Further, with Trump’s additional tax reform coming into place earlier this year, American companies are reviewing their plans to establish or expand their R&D centres and businesses in India and other countries. This would only add to the demand for a skilled work force on home ground, thereby leading to increased opportunities. For more information on the impact of Trump’s additional tax reforms on Indian aspirants, visit

While these developments are far from over, it is well worth taking the ‘wait and watch’ approach and circumventing the problems through appropriate measures rather than hastily ruling out the possibility of working in the USA.

When it comes to education abroad, the US has always maintained its position as the destination of choice, especially among Indian and Chinese students who comprise of majority of international applicants. A key factor influencing the choice of country has been the provision of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Under the OPT, a student upon completing his Master’s degree can choose to obtain valuable industry experience by working with a corporation based in the USA. While the OPT period lasts for 12 months after completion of the degree, under the Obama administration, students studying in STEM programs were granted the freedom to avail of a 24-month extension to the OPT. The prospect of gaining international corporate exposure in the heartland of capitalism while earning six-digit dollar salaries for a potential 36 months in total ensures that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs attract the bulk of international student applications.

No surprise then, that any news regarding the OPT often causes a major hysteria (of elation or panic) among prospective international students. The latest article in the Times of India Students cannot work at client-sites during the OPT is the latest such media byte causing several students planning for their studies in the US to re-evaluate their academic strategy. According to the article, an interpretation of a particular clause in the set of employers’ obligations by the US immigration agency debars students who choose to avail of the OPT opportunity post completion of their degrees from working at the location of their employers’ clients. In case you are wondering what this bodes for you, this article would help you analyse the implications of the same.

Companies choose to recruit students from a long-term perspective. No employer, be it an OPT employer or otherwise, would prefer or can afford to recruit personnel only for training purposes. Therefore, when a student is granted employment by a company during the OPT period, it is always with the vision of incentivizing a long-term commitment from the employee. It is for this purpose, that immediately after recruitment under the OPT is finalized, employers begin to apply for the H1B Visa for their international recruits. Of course, various rumours regarding the H1B Visa have been in the air, and from our side, we have sought to correct the narrative by helping prospective students to accurately assess the impact of such policy shifts, which contrary to un-informed opinions, hold good news for students destined to the US. You may refer to the article that we have published on the H1B issue Strict H-1B Visa Norms – A Boon for F1 Visa Students

Moreover, almost no employer would want to commit the mistake of false bravery by putting an untrained and under-experienced recruit in a client-facing role immediately after hiring. Most companies upon hiring have elaborate well-designed training programs that hope to polish a student’s raw skills to industry level expectations. Therefore, by the time an employee on OPT is in a position to have extensive client interactions, there is a very high probability that he would have managed to secure the H1B Visa.

In addition to this, another factor that plays in favour of international students is the lack of supply of local (read American) STEM Masters graduates to fulfil the employers’ quantitative demand for new talent. As seen from the Foreign Students and Graduate STEM enrolment, in a scenario where a high majority of STEM graduates are international students, the US policy-makers cannot afford to create a situation of disenchantment for its STEM programs among prospective international students without creating a serious shortage of high-skill tech workforce and researchers.

Coming to the legal technicalities, the clause under question falls under the Employer’s Training Obligation, which states that STEM OPT employers shall not devolve the student training obligations to their clients or customers. You can read the list of compliance requirements by following this link USCIS mandated STEM OPT compliance regulations for students and employers. According to the rules, both the student and the employer have to formalize a set of training goals and regularly update the Designated School Official (DSO) of the student’s progress by submitting annual training progress as specified in the Form I-983 . The reason for the existence of the clause under discussion (that OPT employers should not devolve the student training to their clients) is because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to have access to the students. They can have this access only at the location of the E-verify Participating STEM OPT Employers. The clients of such employers may or may not be registered under E-verify, and as such, if the student is at such a client’s location, the DHS may not have access to the student. Under normal circumstances, in case the DHS wishes to have such personal access to the students, it sends a notice to the employer 48 hours prior to visiting the office of the employer. It is only and only on account of a complaint regarding the non-compliance of OPT rules that a DHS visit without issuing this prior notice is triggered.

Clearly, an unintimated visit by the DHS would be a rarest of rare occurrence, because OPT employers would try to ensure they do not attract any scrutiny and potentially incur litigation costs. One needs to remember that the clause which the TOI might be referring to has always existed in the past; it is not a new policy that is sought to be introduced for legislation. Therefore, if there is status quo in terms of policy, definitely there would not be any different result due to implementation of the said policy. The US is not a country where such a policy could have been knowingly side-stepped by such a large number of employers in so many cases of OPT employment in the past. Thus, if the existence of such a policy has not created any compliance-related problems in the past, there is no reason to believe that the continuation of such a policy would pose any such problems in the future. Perhaps, this is a reason why it is only the Times of India that has published an article on this issue; no other major news outlet, Indian or international, has made any recent mention on the topic.


  1. There is no new interpretation of the policy clause – it has always been there and is so clearly spelt out that there is no scope for an alternate interpretation. Employers have always complied with in the past and will continue to do so. So, if international students’ interests have not been hurt in the past, they would not be in future.
  2. The policy shifts with regard to granting of H1B Visa will ensure a smoother and faster progress from F1 to H1B for students availing of the OPT.
  3. The US needs highly skilled international technical workforce as much as the as the said workforce wants to pursue studies in reputed American institutes and gain few years of experience in working with innovation-pioneering American MNCs. The American dispensation is wise enough to not disturb this harmonious order.

H-1B Visa

Strict H-1B Visa Norms – A boon for F1 Visa Students

Indians and IT companies, the largest users of the H-1B Visas, are feeling the impact as the Donald Trump administration is making it more challenging for them to get H-1B work visas. On February 22, 2018, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) issued a policy memorandum that said that its visa officers could seek detailed documentation and more evidence from firms to establish that they have specific assignments in a specialty field for the H-1B beneficiary. Secondly, these assignments would require them to stay for the entire duration requested on the petition. If the company can suitably demonstrate that the beneficiary can work on the assignment or project and complete it within three years, then the visa would be granted for the required period only. This has made the H-1B route more tedious and complicated for Indian companies.

So, the Visa officials would carry out a detailed analysis about the beneficiary’s qualifications and the nature of the work involved. If these details match, then the H-1B visa would be approved. But the complexity of this new development is that there is no fixed rule about the basis of rejection. So it would bode well for the H-1B visa beneficiary to prepare well for any such eventuality. The first and foremost strategy would be that one cannot base one’s preparation on assumptions. You need to know your facts well and stay updated on the latest developments. The rules have become way too stringent and the grounds for rejection are sometimes erratic. To avoid such contingency situations, a company lawyer or an external lawyer could help you ensure compliance and guide you in meeting all requirements.

Though this development does not bode well for native Indian companies, who send their employees on H-1B visa, there is a wave of optimism that this stringent approach would lead to a shortage of skilled professionals in the field as the native American work force cannot fulfil the needs of an ever-growing industry. So there is every possibility of the policy being revoked. Until then, being well-prepared and achieving the required compliance is the only way to resolve the Request for Evidence clause of the H-1B visa policy. The good news, however, is that students on the F1 visa would be benefitted by this policy as American companies would prefer hiring the talent available within the country. The STEM OPT option allows F1 students to make the most of this opportunity, thereby helping them get good placements.

Even with the framing of such stringent policies, one needs to understand that getting an American degree far outweighs the education and research opportunities offered by other countries. It is a known fact that American universities offer the best education and state-of-the-art research facilities along with distinguished faculty, flexible course-work and excellent work opportunities through the STEM OPT. It continues to draw students to apply in large numbers.  So if you are on the lookout for top quality education coupled with working in the best global organisations, then the USA will provide you with the best of these opportunities. Studying this policy in depth and understanding its repercussions would help you weigh your options and take the right decision.

Meet our counsellors today to help you understand more about the new policy norms and how you could make the best of this opportunity.


Visa Interview: First Name Issues

“What is FNU?” Visa Interview: First Name Issues
A lot of students have been asking us if having ‘FNU’ on the visa will lead to difficulties in the US. Hence we decided to write a detailed article explaining the exact meaning of FNU.  
“If you have only one name or if your name appears in only one line in your passport, then on the visa your full name will only be printed in the surname field and “First Name Unknown”, or “FNU,” will be printed in the given name field.” — (Taken from Visa Interview: First Name Issues

To begin with, having FNU on your docs is not really a concern. The concern here is whether your passport and visa stamp matches your i-20 or not.  In the US, your I-20 is the most important document that shows your legal status as an f1 status and your passport is your ID.  While registering for important documents like SSN or driving licence, they will check these docs.

Now, due to various cultural norms, there are variations in the way names are written.  In many cultures, students do not have a last name, but use their father’s name as surname—
E.g.—Shriraj Sukumaran Visa Interview: First Name Issues

Usually, their names appear in one line on their passport and the surname field is blank, something like this—>
Given Name— Shriraj Sukumaran
Last name—

International Visa rules do not allow the surname field to be left blank, so the officers would put your entire name in the surname column and mention FNU (First Name Unknown) in the given name section.
When this happens, your visa will have your name like this.
First name/Given name–FNU
Last name—Shriraj Sukumaran

However, when you initially applied on the university website, you might have given your name in the First-Name –Last Name format.  Something like this—
First Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

Basically there will be a discrepancy between your visa stamp and passport as well as your i-20. Several students who have faced this issue, have done one of the following things:

1. Before filling the DS-160, they changed their passport name to “Name- Last name” format so that it matches with the I-20.
Given Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

They would avoid any future issues with documents in USA because i20 and passport name would be identical. (We would advise this only if you have enough time. If you need to book your visa dates immediately then you need your passport.)

2. Changed their I20 name –
Since last name is compulsory for visa, they asked the university to use ‘FNU’ everywhere in their First name on the i-20 and mention their full name in the surname column.  The I-20 name would then match their Visa and passport.
First Name—FNU
Last name – Shriraj Sukumaran

(again, changing the details on i-20 would need you to contact your DSO and depending on their efficiency, it could take anywhere between 1-4 weeks. You need your i-20 to go for the visa interview, so plan accordingly)

3. Did not make any changes in I-20 and passport name and decided to change the details later, after going to USA. You can change i-20 details at your college and passport details at the embassy in US.
If time permits, it is definitely advisable to work towards bringing about uniformity in the format of your name in these documents while you are in India. Your I-20 and passport are important documents and ensuring uniformity can save you a lot of hassles later on. Visa Interview: First Name Issues

Tips for a Successful Visa Interview

Tips for a Successful Visa Interview

If you wish to study abroad, you need to start preparing well in advance since the application process is time-consuming. However, one of the biggest challenges that students face during the application process is preparing for the visa interview. To ensure that your visa interview experience is a good one, here are some preparation tips that will help you to breeze through your interview: Read More



You need to start the process of Visa Application at least 3 months prior to the intended date of traveling to Germany. The following guide will help you prepare the application.

Step 1: Getting your academic documents certified: Please see the procedure required to book an appointment for getting your mark-sheets and academic certificates attested depending on the area where you are from:

Step 2: Open a Block Account with Deutsche Bank. Follow the document titled Blocked Account for the guidelines for the same. Remember that the process of opening a blocked account takes 4-6 weeks, so make sure you initiate the process as early as possible.

Students applying from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh need to follow additional instructions, which are provided in the document titled TTPA.

Step 3: As soon as you receive the Admission Letter from your University, start collecting all your documents. The list of documents that you require is provided in the document titled Student Visa Checklist for Student Visa.

Along with the documents mentioned in the document, you also need to get a Travel Health Insurance. Please find the list of valid insurance providers in the document titled Travel Insurance Providers.

Step 4: Procure photographs for biometric process which meet the specifications mentioned in the document titled Photograph Specifications.

You can visit the following photo studios for obtaining the photographs:

  1. New Delhi: “Reflections” Digital Photoshop,
    Shop No. 25, NDMC Market, Malcha Marg
    New Delhi 110021
    Tel: 0091-11-9910272944, 0091-11-99 68 00 85 87

      2. Bangalore: All branches of GK Vale photo studios

      3.Chennai: DINA COLOURLAB
53/1 CP Ramaswamy Road
Chennai 600 018
Tel. 0120-2499 7239
VFS: Tel. 0120-664 1070

       4.Mumbai: Atlanta Photo Shop – Atlanta Bldg.,
Shop No. 7, Ground Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400 021.
Tel.: (022) 2204 2762, 2287 2587, 4002 0130
Fax: (022) 3022 8484

Step 5: Fill in the application form document titled German National Visa Application Form and sign the document titled Declaration of True Information.

Students applying from Kolkata also need to have a look at two additional documents titled Checklist for Kolkata Students and Covering Letter for Kolkata.

Step 6: Book an appointment for the Visa Interview at your German Mission by following the link:

Step 7: Before the interview, check the exchange rate, and accordingly prepare a demand draft in Rs. equivalent to 60€ i.e. the Visa fee. The demand draft is to be submitted at the time of the Visa Interview. Make sure to keep the payment receipt as you would require it at the time of Passport collection.



You need a Tier-4 general student Visa to study for pursuing graduate studies in the UK. The following is the procedure that you need to follow. You can apply for the Visa 3 months before the degree programme commences. The decision occurs within 3 weeks of the application date.

The following is the procedure that you need to follow:

Step 1: Collect all the document

The attached pdf will provide details of all the necessary documents that are needed to be provided.

Step 2: Go for tuberculosis testing

Go to one of the clinics mentioned in the attached pdf and make it clear that you are getting the tuberculosis testing done for application for a UK Tier-4 visa.

Carry the following documents:

Passport, Passport Xerox, 2 Photos Passport size, UK University Address

The charges for the test are Rs. 1500 charges and fasting is not necessary for the test.

Step 3: Apply for Visa

The Visa fees include £328 + £150 per year healthcare surcharge. The healthcare surcharge needs to be paid before applying for the Visa. For paying the healthcare surcharge, go to this link:

The above link will help you ascertain your actual healthcare surcharge amount which is dependent on your program duration.

After paying the healthcare surcharge, you can apply online using the following link:

  1. Attend the appointment at the chosen Visa Application Centre

After applying for the Visa, you need to attend the appointment at the Visa Application Centre chosen by you. Here, you will undergo a Visa interview and will also have your Biometric details collected for the BRP. Visit the following link to get the list of Visa Application Centres in India:

You need to bring the following documents when you arrive for the appointment:

  • Your appointment confirmation, visa fee receipt and user pay visa application centre service fee receipt.
  • A valid passport or travel document with at least 1 page that is blank on both sides.
  • 1 recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm) colour photograph of your face, which meets the requirements in UKVI’s photograph guidance required only for applicant’s exempt from giving biometrics
  • A printout of your online application form, signed and dated.
  • If you are applying under the points-based system, a completed self-assessment form signed and dated.
  • Any supporting documents relevant to your application. If the originals are not in English you must provide the original documents as well as a translation in English.
  1. Sending your documents to the Embassy

If the application is accepted, you will be notified of an address where you need to send your documents.



Following is the complete step-by-step visa application procedure:

The Visa process in India takes an average of 3 weeks. As per the Visa Office instructions, it is advantageous to initiate the process 3 months prior to the proposed date of traveling. The following link provides information about the documents that are needed to be kept handy before you begin the application process:

  1. Medical Check-Up
  2. Police Clearance Certificate
  3. Application Package
  4. Application Fee
  5. Submit the application

After the application process is completed, if your application is approved:

  • A letter of introduction will be sent to you confirming the approval. This letter is not your study permit. Bring the letter of introduction with you to show to immigration officials at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada.
  • A visitor visa (temporary resident visa) will be issued in your passport. The expiry date on this visa indicates the date by which you must enter Canada. You must enter Canada before your visa expires. The visa will also indicate if you can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or if you can enter Canada multiple times (a multiple-entry visa)

Upon getting your Visa, the following link will explain the various aspects that you need to be vigilant about as you prepare to travel to Canada:

Types of Visa Interview Questions


Types of Visa Interview Questions | USA Student Visa

The sheer joy and feeling of euphoria on receiving the confirmation of enrolment from your dream university is indeed unparalleled. However, you are still one step away from living your dream, and that is – getting your student visa! Types of Visa Interview Questions

It is essential that you clear the visa interview so as to secure the student visa. The way you answer the questions posed by the visa officer will determine whether or not you will be granted the F-1 student visa. Therefore, you must prepare well in advance for the interview. Types of Visa Interview Questions

The interview is taken by a visa officer who will ask you a range of questions to ensure that your sole reason for obtaining the student visa is to study abroad. The officer can also ask a few unrelated questions to know your real interests and objectives. Generally the questions asked during the interview are related to : Types of Visa Interview Questions

  • Your choice of University
  • Your academic background
  • Your financial details
  • Your future career plans
  • Your family ties

Questions about your university Types of Visa Interview Questions

The Visa officer will be interested to know why you wish to study in the US and not in India. They can ask you about the number of universities you have applied to, including the number of admits and rejects. Be prepared to answer questions about the university where you wish to study. Talk about your reason for selecting it, university location, course details, names of professors, the start and end date of the program etc. They may also want to know what prompted you to select a particular course and how this course will benefit you. Types of Visa Interview Questions

Questions about your academic background

The visa officer will ask you questions about your academic background such as details on your undergraduate studies. They may also ask you to furnish your degree transcripts, test scores of GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, SAT, IELTS to ascertain your academic capabilities. In case you have work experience, then you may also have to show your certificate of work experience. Types of Visa Interview Questions

Questions about financial resources Types of Visa Interview Questions

The visa officer will ask questions to ascertain whether you have the requisite financial resources to fund your education, which is essential for obtaining the F-1 student visa. You will be required to provide details regarding how you plan to fund your education, loan details if any, who is paying for your education, sponsor’s occupation, annual income of sponsor, your relation to the sponsor, scholarship details etc. You will also be asked to furnish requisite documents to prove that your sponsor can fund your education which includes pass book, bank statements and income tax returns. Enquiries will be made about your accommodation in the US, your total cost of living for the duration and whether you have sufficient financial resources to meet various expenses such as food, housing, transportation, health insurance, and other relevant overheads. Types of Visa Interview Questions

Questions regarding the future career plans

The visa officer may ask questions regarding your plans after graduation. Your answer must clearly convey your intensions of returning to your home country once your course is completed. The Visa officer wants to determine whether you have strong ties to your home country or any motivation that inspires you to return to India. Therefore, he may put forward question regarding your plan of action after completing your studies. Types of Visa Interview Questions

Questions about your family

Visa officers can pose questions about your family members, your father’s occupation, sibling’s education, whether you have any relatives staying in the US or any family member who is currently studying at the university you plan to study at. Types of Visa Interview Questions

General questions

The interviewer may enquire whether you have been to the US before. He may ask you to share details about your past achievements or your plans for the term break. He may also ask you to give reasons as to why he should give you the visa and what will be your plan of action if the visa application is rejected.

Before you go for your visa interview, try practicing these answers and be calm, confident and honest while replying. If you prepare for the interview keeping these questions in mind, then your interview session is sure to be a smooth and easy affair! Types of Visa Interview Questions

Checkout 139 different Visa questions that were asked to our students in the past. Click Here

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