Monthly Archives

June 2018

Canada represents the land of dreams to Indian students and professionals. It is the hope of every immigrant that it will offer him progress, liberty, quality of life and a safe haven to live well and achieve professional excellence. The vast expanse of Canada, covering the northern hemisphere, is home to over a million immigrants from across the globe, enriching the native culture with their own unique colour. With a flourishing economy that easily rivals that of the U.S, Canada is outpacing other countries by introducing immigration reforms that promote the entry of Indians.

As a land of opportunity, Canada allows persons to migrate based on their reason for coming to Canada such as work, short-term education, medical visit etc. There are certain streams of immigration that create express pathways for a person to immigrate, sometimes the process can even be completed in less than a year’s time. Let us consider the various avenues through which one can enter Canada for work, gain a Permanent Residency and eventually, a Canadian citizenship. There are points given for years of experience, levels of education and experience in any one of the 347 occupations as notified by the National Occupational Classification system. Under the Federal Skilled Workers program, candidates receiving an invitation must submit a full application within 60-days. Similarly, every program has a set of requirements that allow the candidate to be assessed based on the parameters outlined by the program. You can search for a job directly at the Canada Job Bank, https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/occupation_search-eng.do, where you may also apply and have a job awaiting you on the other side of the shore.

The majority of job vacancies remain in the 10 largest industrial sectors in terms of employment, led by transportation and warehousing, manufacturing and accommodation and food services. Visit  https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/hotfields for more information. As a skilled worker or professional, you have several options to consider. For example, you may be eligible for applying under Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Class or, if your intended destination is in Quebec, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program may be the pathway for you and your family. All these programs give you a Permanent Residence card, which is the pre-mandate for acquiring Canadian citizenship. Further, the Canadian government has made an allowance in which even an expired PR card is accepted for a citizenship application. For further information, visit site https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/canadian-citizenship/become-canadian-citizen/eligibility.html.

The Canadian Immigration system uses a point based evaluator to assess potential immigrants for their suitability to meet the mandated Permanent Residency guidelines. Visit https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/become-candidate/eligibility/education-assessed/read-report.html for the requisite points to be garnered for acceptance to the PR program. Among the requirements, the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the standardized test that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recognizes as proof of English language ability for immigration purposes and is mandatory, if you are not a native speaker and do not have proof of having studied English in high school and above. The four sections of the IELTS (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) are measured on a Band Score system from 1-9. To receive the maximum number of points for English language ability on a Federal Skilled Worker application, the applicants must obtain a Band score of 7.5 or higher in the Listening component and a 6.5 or higher in the other three components.

In addition to your IELTS scores, you must also fulfil the pre-requisites of police verification, medical check, completing the credential equivalence for all your educational and personal documents, including their translation into English or French. For more details, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/become-candidate/eligibility/education-assessed.html to know more about the list of service providers designated by CIC for the purpose. The authority named Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is an easy to use, interactive portal, which eases navigation across the intricacies of immigrating to Canada through an online quiz. Taking the quiz determines your suitability to apply for specific programs. To learn more on this aspect, visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp?_ga=2.43536485.1733995998.1526705315-166780224.1526705315. Also, you must register at the CIC website to begin your online application for immigrating to Canada through the link, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/account.html, In addition, you can also avail the Student Direct Stream program that Canada is providing for Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese students.  Moreover, your registration can be done online and it would be advisable to link your paper application to the online profile. Remember, your account will be the link for you to pay taxes, monitor benefits etc., well after you have even gained citizenship.

Inasmuch, there are fast-track Canadian immigration programs that allow candidates to receive a provincial nomination certificate. In most cases, a nomination certificate will allow candidates to immigrate more quickly than through other Canadian immigration programs. Also, if your relative fulfils certain conditions, you can live, study and work in Canada with them as your sponsor. If you are an international investor with the skills and abilities needed to contribute to our economy and integrate into Canadian society, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program. To find out more about this avenue, please click on the link, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/immigrant-investor-venture-capital.html

Additionally, there is The Atlantic Immigration Pilot, a partnership between the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. This protocol helps employers in the Atlantic region hire job candidates who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents, please click on the link here for more details, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/atlantic-immigration-pilot/about-atlantic-immigration-pilot.html. Similarly, for students who wish to find employment and are already in Canada, please see this link https://emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/srs-sre/page01.htm?poster=1&lang=en for information on the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP).

All the fees for the processing of applications under various programs can be paid online through a credit card and must be paid in Canadian dollars. Also, please check the processing time for the application in the program of your choice on the specific link to know when to expect a response on your application. Also, if there are certain persons who cannot immigrate directly, there is an avenue called the Compassionate and Humanitarian program, which allows you to migrate to Canada under exceptional circumstances.

As per a report by the Business Development Bank of Canada, from a provincial perspective, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario are the engines of growth, while provinces in Atlantic Canada show slower rates in comparison, at about one percent and lower. The world economy is expanding and this offers incredible opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs to position themselves for growth and take advantage of the global momentum Read the complete report here at https://www.bdc.ca/en/blog/pages/2018-economic-outlook-global-growth-brings-good-news-canadian-entrepreneurs.aspx.  Also, given the mushrooming of businesses and the fast paced technology boom, Canada is looking to expand and for that, it needs to fill its human resource deficit of over 15% which it intends to fill through the PR program as per the 2017-2020 plan. If you are looking to live in a highly developed nation with excellent quality of life, social benefits, low crime rate, Canada is the place for you and there’s no time like the present to get started on your CIC application.

Canada is a popular educational destination with 413,000 international students enrolled in 2017 alone, according to the Canadian Bureau of International Education. There is a deep representation of Asian cultures, with a large number of Indian and Chinese people, among the 34 ethnic groups in Canada. Among the elite Canadian B-schools, there are several such universities like the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Western University’s Ivey Business School, McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, University of Alberta, among others which remain comparable to the best schools in the United States. For instance, the University of Alberta is home to over 39,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate programs, out of which over 6,500 are international students. Among the University of Alberta MBA students, half of all full-time MBA students are international students from 42 countries across the world.

Universities in Canada offer three types of MBA programs – full time, part time and Executive MBA. Most Indian students prefer to go for the full time MBA program due to the additional benefits of work and immigration that it affords them. To gain admission to an MBA program in any of the Canadian universities, along with proof of having cleared the qualifying exam of a four year bachelor’s program with good academic and extra-curricular records, there are prerequisites such as a good GMAT/GRE score and an above 7 IELTS band score. Each school lays down the admission criteria as per its guidelines. Most Canadian business schools need a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher to gain admission in the MBA program.

An MBA degree in Canada is offered in a range of specialisations, which are customised to suit the practical demands of the industry they are designed to serve. At the end of the program, the graduate would be well equipped with the requisite information to work and serve in the management cadre of his organisation. Tuition fees are also much cheaper than the US, with an average tuition of $52,000, for an MBA in Canada as compared to the $150,000 – $300,000 price tag of elite US universities. After completing the program, most business schools in Canada offer placements in prized positions at large corporates, multinationals and based on the B-school profile, even at Fortune 500 companies.

While studying, international students may qualify to work off-campus without a work permit till the duration of their program. If eligible, your study permit will allow you to work off-campus up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks. All international graduates of the approved and accredited MBA program are eligible for a three-year Canadian Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWPP). Not only does this represent a significant advantage that Canadian schools have over other international schools, but it also allows for a longer work permit than other one-year Canadian MBA programs can offer. Please see https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/work/after-graduation/eligibility.html  for more information. It is possible to study in Canada for less than six months without a study permit. The program must be completed within the original period authorized for your stay (usually six months) when you entered Canada.

With seven of the world’s top 150 universities in Canada, most of the graduates end up employed with home grown Canadian medium sized firms that create an annual job requirement of around 100,000 and contribute to over 50% of the economy.  Graduates find work in one of the country’s strong industries, like financial services or the energy sector. Many international students who study in the country do receive a work visa after completing their MBA. This enables them to apply and receive permanent resident status in the country. In this aspect, the Canadian advantage plays out enticingly in favour of the graduate as opposed to elsewhere in North America. The rising number of international students seeking admission to Canadian B-Schools is a testament to the success story that Canada is, and more importantly, beckons you to be a part of it.

Please contact our counsellors today for more details on pursuing your MBA in Canada.

Fresh graduates – especially highly skilled ones – successfully find work in Switzerland, where almost half of all executive jobs in Switzerland are held by foreigners. The success rate of graduates from Swiss universities in the employment segment is better than that of people who choose to apply from their home country. The salaries in Switzerland are amongst the highest in the world, with at least four weeks’ holiday per year. An added advantage is that there are excellent Swiss social security benefits if you’re out of work, and you’ll enjoy one of the highest qualities of life in the world. However, the labour market is small, competition for jobs is high and if you are from outside the European Union (EU), then only a limited number of management level, well-qualified and specialist employees are admitted into the country to work.

If you desire to work in independent professions like health, teaching, technology, law and social work in Switzerland, you will need to have your foreign qualifications recognised, even if you are from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). If your occupation isn’t regulated, you may still wish to get a ‘level certificate’ that provides Swiss employers with information about how your foreign qualification relates to the Swiss higher education system. You can find out more about the process through the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Academic credentials (not for regulated professions) from some countries are recognised via the Bologna Process for students within the European Union, this allows for the standardization of education across Europe. University qualifications (bachelor’s degrees and above, but not those related to regulated professions) can also be recognised for work purposes through ENIC-NARIC for some countries. For more details on this aspect, visit the link http://www.enic-naric.net/asia-and-the-pacific.aspx. Rivalry for Swiss jobs is fierce and opportunities are more limited for those coming from outside of the EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association), as there are often allocations for jobs in Switzerland for non-nationals, particularly for highly skilled, well-qualified experts. However, finding a job in Switzerland is possible, including a small selection of jobs in Switzerland for English-speakers, especially in sectors, where there are high shortages of skilled workers. In multicultural Switzerland however, language is often key to finding work in Switzerland.

Despite Switzerland being a small country, it is a nation with a highly skilled workforce (in hi-tech, micro-tech and bio-technology fields) and an important industrial nation, with half of all Swiss export revenue coming from mechanical/electrical engineering and the chemicals sector. It is also one of the world’s major financial centres. So there are jobs for skilled workers in engineering and technology, pharmaceuticals, consulting, banking, insurance and IT, with financial analysts, business analysts and systems analysts in great demand. Engineering, for example, which experiences local shortages, comprises of almost 40 per cent of foreign workers.

The Swiss Parliament passed the Neirynck initiative on June 18, 2010, as an initiative to provide for foreign nationals graduating from a Swiss university-level institution to be on an equal footing with Swiss nationals when it comes to entering the Swiss labor market. To find employment, foreign nationals who have earned a Swiss university-level diploma will be entitled to stay in Switzerland for six more months from the time of completing their education or postgraduate studies. Those who are successful in securing employment will be issued a work permit, provided the prospective position involves an activity of particular scientific or economic importance. For procedural details, please visit https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home/themen/arbeit/nicht-eu_efta-angehoerige/verfahrensablauf.html.

Zurich and Geneva are among the top cities in the world for expatriate salaries, according to this year’s HSBC expat salary survey. The average expatriate can look forward to a pay packet of $206,875 (CHF191, 960) in third-place Zurich and $184,942 in fifth-place Geneva. “Expats ranked Switzerland highly for both financial and personal well-being criteria,” said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat. “The combination of high salaries and excellent work culture has placed Switzerland at the top of the careers league table.” Please read the report here at https://www.livemint.com/Home-Page/2SM4Zyexs0lG8hWfEIf3gJ/Worlds-highest-paid-expats-toil-in-Switzerland.html.

Switzerland has three main national languages: German-Swiss is the most widely spoken, especially in the centre and areas in the east; French is spoken in the west; and Italian in the south. While English is often spoken in the workplace, having some knowledge of these other languages will give you an advantage in the Swiss job market, as would being able to speak Russian or Mandarin. A report in 2017 showed statistically that foreigners coming to work in Switzerland will find themselves in a German-Swiss working environment.

Most students who come to Switzerland are attracted to STEM disciplines and indeed, schools like ETH Zurich with its Nobel Laureate alumni are teeming with talent from across the globe. Students from India must apply for a D visa, if they have enrolled for a course that lasts longer than 3 months or otherwise for a C visa. Be sure to Schedule the appointment for a visa interview as early as six months prior to study in Switzerland, but no later than ten weeks before your departure. If you apply for a D visa and plan to stay in Switzerland longer than three months, you will have to arrange to get your residence permit from the cantonal migration offices within 14 days after your arrival.

With such idyllic backdrops as the Alps, superb work-life balance as well as being at the epicentre of the world’s largest entities like the UN, IMF, there can be only growth ahead for anyone looking to work in Switzerland.

Studying abroad has always been a major concern for parents, who send their children away from the safe and familiar environment at home. Though USA is no longer considered to be alien, especially since the internet revolution has allowed us to familiarize us with its culture, its lifestyle and its cities, parents are confident their children will blend well with the life out there, but are apprehensive about safety issues and are on the lookout for cities with civic patrolling, low car fatalities, low violent crime rate and strict gun control laws. Therefore they need to be assured that their child is staying in a safe place. Also, considering that students who plan to stay off-campus would be on the search for a place that is in close proximity to the university campus, it becomes doubly important to ensure that the stay arrangements are made in a safe environment that will not hamper their movements after dark. Hence, while applying to universities, a student needs to be aware of which ones are the safe cities to live in and which ones to avoid. Know more about the Top 10 Unsafe Cities in USA for a student or professional.

 To simplify this dilemma of identifying safer cities, we have compiled a list of 10 safest cities to live in the USA.

  1. Beginning with the safest city of the Unites States. Neperville, a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois has consistently ranked at the top of the list. With a population of 148,070, it is also ranked as the wealthiest and safest city in the Midwest, according to a report issued by USA Today and Business Insider. The sprawling city consists of energetic and dynamic city shelters, acclaimed public and parochial schools, exotic parks, religious centres, healthcare facilities and has an exceptionally low crime rate. If we talk about universities, the University of St Francis is just 15 miles away, and Concordia University, Chicago is 21 miles from Neperville. So if you plan to study in these universities, then you would indeed be living in the safest city of the country. The city has all the comforts of a modern city and charisma of a small town, where one always sees happy and friendly people.
  1. Cary in North Carolina, the seventh-largest municipality, is situated in Wake Country with a small area in Chatham Country. With a population of 164,835, it is considered to be the second most populated town in the U.S. According to a report made by Money Magazine, Cary is one of the Best Small Cities in America. Moreover, the Police and Fire department and Emergency Medical Services are nationally accredited. Surrounded by universities such as North Carolina Central University, Duke University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cary can best fit students who look forward to staying in one of the safest cities in the U.S.
  1. Allen, a city in Collins County, Texas, is a northern suburb of Dallas with an overall population of 101,020 and violent crime rate of less than 79 per 100k. Dallas Morning News titled Allen to be the second-best neighbourhood in North Texas. Sheltering University of Texas, Dallas and other strong schools and plentiful jobs makes Allen 6th in Nerdwallet’s assessment of Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers. Moreover, the city of Allen Finance Department received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 18th consecutive year.
  1. Gilbert, a town in Maricopa County, Arizona is located towards the southeast of Phoenix and is the centre of vivacious scenic attractions. Encompassing 76 square miles with a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban centre positioned within the Greater Phoenix area. Gilbert has a population of 255,899 and is one of the safest cities of U.S wherein, one can experience the vast environmental beauty of this exotic city.
  1. Irvine, a city where life flourishes, is a master-planned city in Orange County, California. Being one of the safest cities, it also shelters major universities such as University of California, Concordia University, Irvine Valley College, University of Southern California, and University of La Verne, which makes the city to be a huge attraction for students. The safety measures? (specify briefly) taken by the government also ensures life at its best with a population of 2,66,000.
  1. Murrieta, a city in south western riverside county, California is a habitation for over 111,043 with an extremely low criminal record. It is the fastest growing city of the state and so an excellent hub for tourists. Moreover, as Murrieta is located in the centre of the Los Angeles-San Diego Mega region comprising of 22 million people, it turns out to be the desired destination for people.
  1. Once considered to be the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Frisco is also one of the safest cities of the United States. Frisco was designated “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation and after the NCAA FCS Football Championship game, it is nicknamed as “Fargo South”. A liveable place with an amiable atmosphere, is a part of the humid subtropical region which is sunny for around 230 days per year.
  1. Named after the many oak trees, Thousand Oaks is the second-largest city in Ventura County, California. Incorporated in the year of 1964, it shelters a population of over 129,853. It is one of the safest cities in America according to an FBI reporting. This region experiences a hot and summer Mediterranean climate and sometimes a dry-summer subtropical zone climate with sunny summers, mild winters and moderate rainfall.
  1. Sunnyvale located in Santa Clara County is a city with a population of over 154,108. It is situated in the high-tech area of California and serves as headquarter for most of the technology companies. Sunnyvale is also called ‘The Blue Cube’, owing to the colour and shape of its windowless main buildings. Moreover, Sunnyvale has top class universities namely Santa Clara university, San Jose State University and Stanford University which means it also attracts quite a lot of international students and its safety measures ensures a healthy environment for them.
  1. Simi Valley is in the southeast corner of Ventura County, California and consists a population of 127,252. It has twice ranked as the 18th most conservative city in the United States; once by The Bay Area Centre and another by GovPro.com. Moreover, according to a study conducted by University of Vermont, Simi Valley stood as the fifth-happiest city in the United States.

We hope this list of safe cities provides you with insights regarding what you should look out for when you select a city for your stay while pursuing your higher studies in the US.

You could also check out our article on ‘10 Unsafe Cities in the USA for International Students’.

The American Dream has captured the imagination of millions across the globe, and the long queues for green cards and American visas are evidence to this fact. While students are excited about admits that they have received to top universities, it is also important to make an informed choice considering aspects like safety, economic feasibility and internship/job prospects. With students staying off-campus and often commuting at night from the universities, safety becomes a primary concern. Staying in a safe and secure environment is increasingly gaining importance, especially for international students staying far away from home. Know more about the Top 10 Safe Cities in the USA for a student or professional.

While the pro-gun laws lobbied hard by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have no doubt, empowered citizens to protect themselves, these civil liberties have been misused by angry and conflicted individuals and groups. Among crimes like homicide, drug consumption, rape, human trafficking and property break-ins, random school shootings have risen drastically since the 18th century to present day, with as many as 36 shootouts from the year 2015 to present.

Given the rising influx of international students in the United States of America, here’s the Forbes list of the top 10 American cities that have high crime rates in comparison with other cities in America, which you should stay away from if possible:

  1. Detroit

Population – 713, 239

Violent crime rate – 2, 137 per 100,000 residents

The murder rate in Detroit is 8.7 times the national average while the aggravated assault rate is only 4.7 times the national average. The property crime rate is only 1.6 times the national average. Also, Detroit has a high ratio of violent crimes like arson, homicide, murder etc. and the chances of a person being a victim is 1 in every 49 persons, by far, the highest in the country.

  1. Louis

Population – 320, 454

Violent crime rate – 1, 857 per 100, 000

The city of St. Louis has been consistently ranked the highest in the crime rate count of cities in America. With the highest murder rate in America, two-thirds (67%) of all the murders and one-half of all the assaults are concentrated in a triangular area in the northern part of St. Louis.

  1. Oakland

Population – 395, 317

Violent crime rate – 1, 683 per 100, 000

Violent crimes including assault, rape and murder, occurred from two to five times the U.S. average, but the city is beginning to change as more people migrating into the city are cooperating with the local law enforcement officials.

  1. Memphis

Population – 652, 725

Violent crime rate – 1, 583 per 100, 000

Memphis has been the poorest large city in the US, which is a contributing factor to its very high crime rate. Memphis has a history of violent crime driven by gangs. If a break-in is something you are worried about, then be wary about becoming a victim of property crime here, there is a 1 in 16 chance of falling victim to property crimes for the average citizen.

  1. Birmingham, Alabama

Population – 213, 258

Violent crime rate – 1, 483 per 100, 000

Once ravaged by the Ku Klux Klan, the most common property crimes include burglary, arson and motor vehicle theft. Within the city limits of Birmingham, citizens have a 1 in 14 chance of being a victim of property theft.

  1. Atlanta

Population – 425, 433

Violent crime rate – 1, 433 per 100, 000

More than half of violent crime in Atlanta involves gang members. In addition to violent crimes, crimes related to drug dealing, carjacking, identity theft and credit card fraud abound. Atlanta is also a major transportation hub when it comes to trafficking young girls from Mexico and is one of the fourteen U.S. cities with the highest levels of sex trafficking of children.

  1. Baltimore

Population – 626, 848

Violent crime rate –   1, 417 per 100, 000

With a crime rate higher than the national average, Baltimore has kept its rankings steady on its list. Homicides in Baltimore are heavily concentrated within a small number of high-poverty neighbourhoods. Ghetto-culture, poverty and racial rioting are some of the problems that plague Baltimore.

  1. Stockton

Population – 295, 136

Violent crime rate – 1, 408 per 100, 000

According to a report by NeighbourhoodScout, violent offences tracked in Stockton included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon.

  1. Cleveland

Population – 397, 106

Violent crime rate –1, 363 per 100, 000

Cleveland has the fifth highest murder rate in the country per capita. Property crime ratings are higher than state and national average and can be due to acute poverty, poor education, drugs etc. coupled with racial discrimination makes Cleveland a poor choice of school for international students.

  1. Buffalo

Population – 262, 484

Violent crime rate – 1, 238 per 100, 000

Violent offences tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. Buffalo is also home to drug lords, mafia, prostitution, racial crime etc. which gives it a broad profile.

Although this list is not exhaustive, there are several factors, which cut down the choice of city and neighbourhoods when selecting your city of residence, be it for education or for work. Brockton, Bridgeport, Edison and other cities rank in the following order to the above cities in the crime rankings list.

When choosing a neighbourhood, please ensure to check the ratings for the same on https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ and other community sites that reveal statistical data on the county and city’s hotspots for crime. Living in the United States is exciting and so it should be, while also being safe.

Got a better admit after booking the visa date? Here’s what you can do.

After months of preparation, hard work, consulting mentors and contemplating for days together, you finally zero in on the best admit in your hand and book the visa interview. You inform your friends and relatives that you are going to X university and are in the last phase of negotiations for your apartment. You certainly feel apprehensive, yet you are uber-confident that you will breeze through the visa interview. After all, you have done everything right.

You wake up the next day to an email from another University (your dream University actually!) that you have been accepted.  While this is one of the most euphoric moments of your life, it can easily turn into apprehension filled days. What was just a waiting period could metamorphose into frenzied days of doing a lot of things all over again. Right from sending financial documents to the University and following up with them for the I20, to submitting the DS -160 and visa application, every step in the visa process needs to be reworked.

In order to ease your life, we decided to write this article so that we can systematically detail the process of changing your University after visa appointment booking. We have identified various scenarios so that you can take appropriate steps based on your situation.

Scenario 1 – You have paid the SEVIS and submitted the DS-160, but not yet made the Visa payment.

Step 1: Transfer SEVIS from University X to University Y.   The following is the procedure for the same:

I-901 Fee transfer requests can now be made directly from www.fmjfee.com. To request a fee transfer from the website, you will need to begin by checking your payment status. Once the information is entered, you will be taken to your I-901 records. If there is a valid fee payment on your record a request transfer button will appear next to the print confirmation button. Once you select this transfer option you will be prompted to enter your new SEVIS ID, School or program code and verify that your personal information is correct. After submitting your request, you will be sent an initial email informing you that your transfer request was received and then you will be sent another email either confirming the transfer with instructions to print your new payment confirmation or a denial email explaining why the transfer request could not be processed.

Requests for fee transfers can also be made by mail or e-mailing SEVP. SEVP will consider your request and determine if the fee can be transferred. See the section on the basic rules for transferring fees.

When emailing your request, please insert ‘Fee Transfer’ in the subject line of your request and provide the following details:

  1. Your name
  2. Date of birth
  3. The SEVIS ID number that you originally paid on
  4. The SEVIS ID number you want to transfer the payment to
  5. Explain why the fee needs to be transferred. It will help speed your request if you include a copy of your receipt number. Include information on how to contact you if there are any questions.

SEVP will review your request and determine if the fee can be transferred. If your request is approved, you will receive an email or letter indicating that you can now print your updated I-901 payment confirmation at www.fmjfee.com reflecting the SEVIS ID from your new Form I-20 or DS-2019.

When you apply for any benefit where the I-901 SEVIS Fee will be verified, you will need to provide a copy of the updated I-901 fee receipt.

(Source- https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/faq#_Toc81222153)

Step 2: Create another DS- 160 – Since you submitted the previous DS-160, you will not be able to retrieve and update it.  You can fill another DS-160 with the details of the new University. Make sure you carry the new DS- 160 confirmation page for the interview.

Scenario II – You have submitted the DS- 160, made the visa payment on CGI federal and also booked the date.

  1. Follow the steps in Scenario I
  2. Create another DS- 160 – Since you submitted the previous DS-160, you will not be able to retrieve and update it. You can fill another DS-160 with the details of the new University. Make sure you carry the new DS- 160 confirmation page for the interview.
  3. Update the profile on CGI Federal website- Update the new DS -160 confirmation number and SEVIS ID in your profile on the CGI federal Website. This can be done by logging in to your account on CGI. You don’t need to repay $160 as you have would not have taken the interview yet.  In case you are unable to do this for some reason, carry both the previous DS-160 confirmation page as well as the new one for the OFC interview.  You can report it to the consulate before the OFC and they can update the details before your interview.

Scenario III – You have appeared for the interview already and now you need to change the University.

  1. Fill in and submit a new DS-160 with details of new University and again make the payment of $160 on CGI federal website.
  2. Transfer SEVIS as detailed in Scenario Type 1.

We hope this information is helpful.  For any further clarification regarding this, you can post your queries in the visa application module chatbox and the counselors will guide you within 24 hrs. We wish you all a fabulous visa experience this year!

Verdant beaches, picturesque landscapes and friendly people beckon students and professionals alike to Ireland. Students seeking to study abroad find Ireland to be the perfect backdrop for realizing their dreams of a bright future. Even more interesting is the fact that, skilled expat professionals are actively recruited to work in Ireland to address skill shortages in the local workforce, which is why universities retain global talent and serve as conduits for skilled manpower, which enrich the local economy.

The service sector dominates the job market and key industries in the country like beverages and brewing, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Opportunities can be found in a number of major industries including the growing technology sector, where the demand for IT workers is high. Further, Ireland’s rising popularity as a holiday destination has led to the growth of the hospitality and tourism industry, which is in constant need of both skilled and casual workers.

There is also good news for the talented foreign students, who seek gainful employment after completing their masters/research degrees in the Irish mainland. The Third Level Graduate Scheme allows non-EEA students, who have graduated with Level 7 on or after 1 January 2007, to remain in Ireland for 6 months and those who graduate with Level 8-10 to continue staying for 12 months after their program ends. This allows them to find employment and apply for a General or Critical Skills Employment Permit. You can visit the following site for detailed information: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_to_ireland/working_in_ireland/coming_to_work_in_ireland.html#l1f4da.

Graduates with an award at Level 9 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications will be granted permission for twelve months initially. This will be renewed for a further period of twelve months (subject to the overall eight-year limit) where the graduate satisfies the immigration authorities that he or she has taken appropriate steps to access suitable graduate level employment (e.g. attendance at job interviews, signing up with graduate employment agencies, etc.). Such legislations have made Ireland an attractive destination for students from the world over.

As an Indian student, you will need an employment permit to work in Ireland. There are nine different types of permits, including a general permit and critical skills permit. Non-EEA nationals, who have been invited to attend an interview for employment on the Highly Skilled Occupations list, will be granted a Highly Skilled Job Interview Authorisation, allowing them to remain in Ireland for a maximum of 90 days. Also, the employer must employ you directly – this means that applications from recruitment agencies, agents, intermediaries or companies who intend to outsource or subcontract you to work in another company are not accepted. For more information on the types of work permits and application procedures, please follow the link https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/.

Foreign nationals who wish to take up work in Ireland must obtain a Personal Public Services Number (PPS Number). An employer can only pay employees with a PPS number, and funds will usually only be paid to an Irish bank account. Students will also be required to comply with the Universal Social Contribution (USC), Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI), employment laws and taxation requirements. For the various rights and protections offered to any worker in Ireland, please follow the link https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/What_You_Should_Know/Wages_and_Methods_of_Payments/#National_Minimum_Wage.

Apart from incomes, the greatest consideration for anyone looking to work in Ireland is the living expenses.  Dublin ranks amongst the top 20 expensive cities in Europe, Outer London and Milan are cheaper than Dublin.  The Dublin cost of living calculator will have three components that make up the major chunk – Property rentals, Insurance premiums and childcare. Dublin car insurance premiums are some of the highest in the world. So the minimum salary in Dublin should be 50,000 Euros a year.  This would also put you in the highly skilled work permit segment, for which the mandatory requirement is that the annual compensation should be above 30,000 Euros.

Most foreign workers will find that the cost of expatriate life in Dublin is comparable to any major European city and they will most likely end up living on the south side of the river. Areas preferred by senior executives with high salaries are – Ballsbridge, Donnybrook, Ranelagh, IFSC, Grand Canal Dock, Spencer Dock, Merrion Square, Milltown, Adelaide Road and pretty much any nice street in D2. Average cost of renting a 2 Bedroom is 1500-2000 Euros a month in these areas. A 3-bedroom house would cost about 3000 Euros/month to rent. For more details, please visit http://www.dublin-insider.com/dublin-for-expats/cost-of-living-in-dublin-for-expats.

Given the vast scope for employment in Ireland, where unlike the rest of Europe, English and Gaelic remain the two national languages, it comes as no surprise that expats prefer working in Ireland for its liberal policies as much as its scenic beauty. Also, as the saying goes, there’s no better hospitality to be had than with the Irish and their warm hearths.

For more information, please contact our career counsellors, who will provide you with greater insights.

Studying abroad is increasingly becoming the norm among Indian students, especially for those living in the cities. While pursuing higher studies in a top university is the dream of every student who aspires to go abroad, the job prospects that are available to students locally is the deciding factor that comes only second to the program specifics. The Netherlands is a dream destination for every international student in terms of work, study and leisure.

In the Netherlands, a student can choose from internationally acclaimed universities like Erasmus University and Utrecht University, which offer a diverse range of programs from the liberal arts to pure sciences. Once you have completed the admission process, you must approach the Dutch consulate closest to you, in your home country to begin the student visa process. For both, short study (up to three months) or long study purposes (over three months), you need to apply for a Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) – an entry visa.

If you plan to stay in the Netherlands more than three months, in addition to your entry visa, you will also have to apply for a Residence Permit (VVR) – an ID card that stands as a study visa. Alternatively, your university may apply for the VVR on your behalf for a stipulated charge. If needed, the VVR can be extended to an additional three months, plus the preparatory year. After you arrive in Netherlands, you have to register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BPR) in the municipality you are going to reside in.

Once you finish your studies, you may search for employment within the country. You don’t have to speak Dutch to work in the Netherlands – in fact, English is the main business language in many companies – but it increases your chances if you do. If you don’t speak Dutch, you will probably end up working in the Netherlands for a large international company. If you work for a smaller company then you will generally need to be able to speak Dutch in order to participate in a meeting or make a presentation. Expats who speak French, German, Flemish or a Scandinavian language are always in demand. To learn Dutch, you can find many Dutch language courses in the Netherlands.

Highly skilled workers are in great demand for jobs in the Netherlands and they must earn 30% higher than the minimum wages set for their age group. Click on the link https://www.iamexpat.nl/career/employment-news/new-income-requirements-residence-highly-skilled-migrant-netherlands to see the chart for the year 2018. This group includes engineers, those with technical skills, IT specialists, those working in finance, as well as people with experience of working in sales, marketing and customer service. To be employed as a highly skilled migrant, you must have an employment contract for a minimum of four months with an employer recognised by the Immigration and Naturalisation Department (IND). Your employer will then be a recognised sponsor. Please click on the link https://ind.nl/en/work/Pages/Highly-skilled-migrant.aspx for more details on the process for applying as a highly skilled migrant. These minimum wage thresholds however, do not hold true for graduates eligible for or holding an orientation year permit who need to only earn EUR 2,228 a month or secure a contract that would pay them over that limit, to secure a permit. Other in-demand jobs in the Netherlands include professionals and graduates working in health care, tax, interim managers and education.

In terms of salary, according to the Dutch university and college guide, Keuze Studiegids, dentistry is the most lucrative profession to pursue in the Netherlands. The Dutch usually work a 36–40 hour week, sometimes spread over just four days. Work in the Netherlands is very well-structured within organisations, most of the work is done during normal working hours, the employees are not usually expected to work overtime.

If your stay exceeds 90 days, in most cases your employer will be able to apply for a single permit (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid or GVVA) in your name, which combines the Dutch residence and work permit in one application via the IND. Also, a Dutch work permit is employer specific. If you have a permit to work for one company and then want to switch jobs, you will need a new work permit. Generally, single permits are issued for a maximum of one year. However, there are some exceptions, such as the intra-company transfer work permit, which can be issued for a maximum of three years.

Given the plethora of banking, finance, education, research positions in sectors that constantly need an influx of highly trained and specialised individuals, these have opened avenues for hopeful young graduates as well as experienced professionals from across the globe. With its fair business practices, employee friendly policies and excellent work-life balance, the Netherlands would be a preferred destination for any professional or graduate wishing to work with the best in the field.

Psychology, as the name suggests, is the study of the human mind (Animal mind too!). Although this discipline is a cardinal social science, its applications vary from business, neurology to even sports and music. Globally, universities provide undergraduate programs in psychology that help students initiate their careers in the same. But, an undergraduate degree is hardly ever considered to be capable of assessing a psychologist’s repertoire. But a heavy emphasis is laid on his/her potential during the graduate tenure. Unlike other fields, this enables students from different backgrounds (Economics, Science, Arts) to establish themselves as psychologists with a graduate degree program.

Graduate psychology programs all over the world are roughly divided into the following four academic tracks: Clinical, Developmental, Social and Cognitive.

Clinical psychology involves the assessment of the functioning of the brain to prevent psychology related disorders. Developmental psychology is the study of how the human mind changes/modifies/develops itself over its entire lifespan. Cognitive psychology is the study of the ability of the human mind to think. Social psychology helps us understand how people behave socially.

Graduate education in any such sub-discipline of psychology is heavily researched biased in the top tier universities all over the world. These only enrol students who are intent on pursuing a doctorate or a PhD, which generally spans over four to six years. As a research-intensive program, a ‘terminal Master’s degree is rarely offered by universities. That being said, students can opt for Master’s level programs in community colleges or private institutions.

The eligibility criteria set by universities for admitting students for graduate programs are academic performance, recommendations, English proficiency (GRE/IELTS/TOEFL) and research. Research is very crucial and is underestimated by potential applicants. Students with an undergraduate in psychology have maximal scope to bolster their potential in the form of academic and research projects as compared to those having the non-psychology background. This, by no means, should imply that the latter are impaired in this avenue. They can always engage themselves in internships and extra-curricular projects that emphasize on psychology. This coupled with recommendations from experts in the fields and sincere intent expressed in the Statement of Purpose would enable their parity with students from a psychology background.

After completing the program, graduates normally pursue a career as a researcher in an academic setting. Positions as a professor or a post-doctoral fellow in universities are very common and most sought after. Opportunities for graduate psychologists exist in government organizations (FBI, military etc.), in the form of counsellors who attend to the psychological disorders of employees and also study criminal or terrorist profiles. Psychologists are also required in the department of justice as a correction counsellor for providing therapy to inmates. Prospects also lie in management and marketing consultancy firms where graduate psychologists are required to be engaged in behavioural and market research. As a graduate in psychology, you can also look for opportunities as a research scientist in think tanks and research institutes. Further, they can also find employment as educational counsellors and work towards better learning and development.

An important aspect of establishing one’s credibility as a psychologist is a prerequisite to enter practice in a non-academic workplace. The licensure requirements and objects vary from country to country and even state to state in countries like the US. For example, California psychology board requires a degree from a US/Canada Institute. If it is a foreign university, they require the transcripts to be NACES verified. They also require 3000 hours of supervised professional experience of which at least 1500 should be post-doctoral. They also require you to take up and pass a couple of tests. Singapore, on the other hand, does not have a regulated psychology practice. Anyone who has majored in psychology can call themselves a psychologist there. Globally, universities provide undergraduate programs in psychology that help students initiate their careers in the same. But, an undergraduate degree is hardly ever considered to be capable of assessing a psychologist’s repertoire

For more information, contact our counsellors at Collegepond, who will offer you guidance about the best-suited program for you, help you get the recommendations as well as the academic statement, and also prepare you for getting your visa, provide post-departure services for licensure and so on.

Taking a year’s break between high school and college or between undergraduate and graduate studies is said to be a ‘gap year’. Taking a gap year is becoming increasingly popular with students today. This is a time when the student takes time away from academic pursuits and explores other ways that contribute towards personality development by volunteering in international programs or studying courses and gaining practical exposure in some field that interests him or her apart from college studies. These activities in turn contribute to one’s growth personally and professionally.

Taking a gap year is increasingly becoming the norm and university admission committees have included gap year justification essays as an important part of the application. In India, however, the concept is relatively new. If you need time to think over your choice of career, you can gain exposure by working in the relevant field and later on home on to the program of your choice with the assurance of having enjoyed the experience.

Sometimes, you may have to take a gap year if you have fallen behind in your grades and you need to take time off from the other coursework to clear the courses that you haven’t done well in. Sometimes, you may need time off to attend classes and prepare for exams like the SAT/GRE/GMAT, TOEFL or IELTS. Along with these, you can also plan on taking up online certification courses relevant to the program you will be pursuing. But you cannot justify that this is the reason for taking a gap year. Hence, you need to have a plan B in place. You need to simultaneously pursue activities that will help in building your profile or add a new dimension to it through volunteering activities, or work and gain exposure relevant to the field of interest. For instance, you could take up volunteering for the ‘Teach for India’ program or gain international exposure by taking up an internship abroad or even visit other countries as a volunteer. You could also study a diploma in the relevant field or take up courses in a foreign language.

Here are a few pointers that you need to remember when you write your gap year essay:

State the reason for your decision to take a gap year – You need to mention precisely why you took a gap year. It could be either due to illness, to improve grades, gain relevant exposure through work experience or to prepare for other exams.

Mention in detail about your pursuit of various activities – Add value to the time spent away from college by giving a detailed account of the time spent and how you enriched your personality through various activities.

Sum up your learning and advantage gained through these experiences – Showcase the growth you have achieved through your exposure as an individual and professional.

Here is an example of a gap year essay written by a student:

In 2010, upon graduating from high school, I had to leave my parental home and move to Pune City to pursue my undergraduate education. However, the tuition fees, living expenses, and adjusting to the new environment proved to be much harder than I expected. My father was the sole breadwinner for our family. In order to relieve the burden from him, I took up a part-time job at a coffee shop. I also assisted at the college library, then the college canteen, so on. New city, different educational standards, along with the interchanging part-time jobs took a huge toll on my academic focus which ensued in a deteriorated academic performance. Owing to my poor performance, I had to discontinue my undergraduate studies twice- once after my freshman year, 2011-12 and once after my junior year, 2014-15. During these years, I took up paid internships and was actively involved in social activities. In 2011-12, I interned with Sai Dhara Agro Industries as an Industrial Trainee for six months. My responsibilities involved managing the wages of the employees, inventory, and also the production schedule. Another internship in 2014-15 I picked up was with Heramba jacks and centring material, in Operations and Process Improvement for one year.

Along with the industrial exposure, I actively volunteered for ‘Swapnapurti Foundation’, an NGO that focuses on raising awareness about the importance of education, health and hygiene, and the environment in the rural areas. We took up tree plantation drives, and also organized blood donation camps. However, my most memorable experience was travelling to remote rural areas in Maharashtra and providing the students and their parents there, the information about the educational opportunities available to them, along with the ways to achieve them. Coming from a small village myself, I was able to guide them through my personal experiences and the students and their parents were looking at me as if I had achieved an extraordinary feat. Sharing my experiences and guiding other undergraduate aspirants from these villages brought a sense of satisfaction to me. At the same time, it inspired me to pursue my education with a strong focus.

Since then, things took a miraculous turn for me and my family. My father was promoted at work with a hike in salary, which helped to end our financial crunches. With a sigh of relief and a renewed approach, I started my final year at college. My undergraduate education provided me a strong technical foundation with courses like Engineering Mathematics, Thermodynamics, Energy and Audit Management, Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Quality Control. To deepen my understanding, I am pursuing online certification courses in Project Management, Basics of Supply Chain Management to understand how engineering and business management can be amalgamated.

Upon graduation, despite my tainted academic record, I was selected as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in the purchasing department at Classic Auto Tubes Ltd. I was an integral part of the indirect inventory management team owing over 18 months’ industrial exposure through my internships. Herein, I sourced suppliers, negotiated credit and delivery terms, and followed up for delivery. This required evaluating suppliers on the basis of techno-commercial parameters as well as manage documentation for accurate tracking of the bill of material. My efforts saved the company Rs. 2.5 million annually.

I am aware of the kind of dedication, resilience, and resolve that is required. I believe that I am adequately prepared, both in terms of the pre-requisite technical skills and the right mindset for the program. I hope I will be favourably considered for admission for the graduate study with possible financial assistance. I look forward to joining _________ University as a graduate student. Given an opportunity, I am determined to make the most of it and be an exemplary ambassador for the University.

With this example, we conclude the discussion on the Gap year justification essay module.

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