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Securing an H-1B visa may be a lottery drawn process, but the prospect of winning the lottery looks more promising for applicants holding a master’s degree from US-based universities. In keeping with the current political regime’s diktat of ‘Buy American and Hire American’, the existing visa processing rules are likely to be tweaked, literally flipped, in the ensuing year (April 2019).

The H-1B visa, which acts as the calling card for Indian software engineers to pursue their American dream, with the Indian IT workforce comprising 60% of the overall allocation of 85,000 H-1B visas, is likely to undergo the following administrative and procedural changes.

  1. Mandatory electronic preregistration with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –for all H-1B visa applicants
  2. Reversion of the visa selection process (general quota, additional quota)

Though the impending changes in the visa processing rules are aimed at promoting local employment, the proposed changes are likely to tilt the scale in favor of applicants holding graduate degrees from US universities. All online registrants will be eligible to be a part of the lottery based visa selection process. Bringing cheer to US qualified graduates, the major thrust of the change is the reversal of the visa selection process.

The current selection comprises processing through two lottery quotas: the additional quota (25,000 H1-B visas), where all graduates and other advanced degree holders are considered, followed by the general quota (65,000), where those graduates and advanced degree holders who failed to make the cut in the additional quota are reconsidered along with undergrads. This type of selection process meant that graduates had a small window to compete (25,000) in the first run, followed by competing with undergrads in the second run (65,000), tilting the odds in favor of the undergrad.

The proposed reversal of selection process is aimed at benefitting graduate students significantly, by increasing their probability of getting the much coveted H-1B visas. Under the revised selection process, all online registrants (undergrads, grads etc.) are scheduled to be a part of the general quota (65,000). Those graduates missing out on selection in the general quota will have the option of being considered for selection through the additional quota.

In spite of there not being any raise in the visa cap per se, the proposed new rule augurs well for graduates, by providing them with a golden opportunity to be significant beneficiaries of the change in processing rules of H-1B visas.

For those undergrads desirous of pursuing a career in the land of Silicon Valley, this is the most opportune time to pursue and complete their graduate studies from US-based universities. Collegepond, one of the leading study abroad consultants with a track record of 97% admit rates, including Ivy League schools, is a pioneer in counseling, grooming and preparing aspiring graduates to embark on the most decisive phase of their academic journeys.

Aiming for an H-1B may be a tall order for undergrads, but Collegepond with its counselling and mentoring abilities has always ensured that the prospect of acquiring the much-coveted visa is always -within striking distance!

The UK is a hub for pursuing higher education and is renowned for its high standards of academic excellence. Students in the United Kingdom are encouraged to develop themselves to the best of their potential as well as enjoy a social life.   The UK is known all over the world for its history of warmth and welcomes to international students. Last year alone, Britain had over 1.5 million full-time undergraduate students in higher education, which also included over 104,000 international students.

For student visa in the UK, the visa requirements and general immigration criteria are handled by UK Visas and Immigration.  If you are over 18 years of age and are planning on studying a short course in the UK, you may be eligible for the short-term study visa. The short-term study visa is valid for up to six months for most of the short courses, which can be extended for a stay of up to 11 months for a course that is in the English language. If you are planning on studying a longer course, you will have to make sure that the institution that you have chosen comes under the Tier 4 Student Visa category.

Visa can be applied three months before the course begins. The average visa processing time should be checked for your country so that you have plenty of time.

Student visas for the UK are awarded on a points-based system. To meet all the UK student visa requirements, you will need to provide:

  • Passport details
  • A recent photograph
  • Provide proof of an unconditional offer to you on a course that is offered by a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor and evidenced by a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) form from the institution providing your course (worth 30 points)
  • Provide proof of adequate English language skills that can be demonstrated by passing one of the secure English language tests (SELT). If you belong to an English-speaking country such as the United States or if you have completed a qualification that is equivalent to a UK degree in an English-speaking country, you will not need to provide any SELT results.
  • Proof of your financial support throughout your stay in the UK (worth 10 points)

Bank statements or a letter from your financial sponsor can be presented as financial proof, which proves that you can cover your tuition fees, your accommodation and living costs. You have to prove that you have £1,015 (~US$1,230) per month for living costs if you are studying in the UK, outside of London and if you are studying in London then your living costs £1,265 (~US$1,540) a month.

You need to present documents that show your academic qualifications. You might also need to attend an interview or a biometric test, which typically includes a digital scan of your fingerprints. Besides this, you may have to take certain vaccinations or undertake a tuberculosis test, depending on which country you belong to or you are currently living in.

If you are 16 or 17 years of age and are applying for the Tier 4 (General) student visa, it is necessary for you to have a written consent from your parents/guardians stating that you can live and travel independently.

You can apply online for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa. You also have the option to apply up to three months before your course commences.

As of now, the fee for the Tier 4 (General) student visa is said to be £328 (~US$400), with an additional fee of £328 per person if there are any dependents. You will also be needed to pay a healthcare surcharge of £150 per year (~US$180) in order to access the National Health Service (NHS) for the duration of your stay.

The Short Term Study Visa costs £89 (~US$110) for the six-month option and £170 (~US$210) for the 11-month visa.

On entering the UK, a UK Border Agency officer will be putting a stamp on your passport that states the period of your stay in the UK. For example, if the duration of your course is 12 months or more, you will be permitted to stay for the entire duration of your course along with an additional four months, but you will not be allowed to extend your stay beyond this period.

Moreover, before your arrival in the UK, you have to make sure that you are fully immunized, remembering to pack your immunization record in your hand luggage in case you are asked to show it to the Border Agency officer at your UK port of entry. You must also make sure that you are carrying the documents that are related to your studies (including your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies or CAS number), a proof of your finances and a proof of your accommodation.

Furthermore, you may also be required to register with the police within the first seven days of your arrival in the country depending on where you come from.

All students coming from EU, EEA and Swiss are allowed to work while studying in the UK, although students coming from Croatia might need to gain authorization. Students that belong to publically funded higher education institutions on Tier 4 student visas are permitted to work for up to 20 hours per week during the time their term is going on and can work full-time during Christmas and Easter breaks (unless you are 16 or 17 years of age, in which case the maximum is 10 hours per week during your term time).

Contact our expert counsellors at Collegepond Counsellors Pvt. Ltd. for a more comprehensive information on applying for a UK student visa.

Australia is well-known across the globe as an educational destination for the diversity in education that it offers. Educational institution and universities in Australia offer an extensive array of courses and degrees for international students so that they can find a program that is a good fit for them. International students can choose between universities, vocational education, and English language training.

What truly appeals to international students is the quality of scientific research in Australia as it is at the forefront of technology and innovation. Therefore, international students who decide to study in Australia can take advantage of the latest research resources and technological advances. Another fact that makes Australia a popular choice for international students is that students are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while they are pursuing their studies. This helps them take care of their living expenses as well as gain some work experience.

If you are a student who wants to study in Australia, you need to get an Australian student visa. To obtain a student visa, you must be able to prove to the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the key requirements to be granted with the Australian student visa.

  • Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement
  • Financial requirements
  • English proficiency requirements
  • Health and character requirements

You will need to complete an Australian student visa application form, pay the visa application fee and attend an interview as well.

Now that you know the key requirements for an Australian student visa, let us discuss it in detail to gain more clarity.

What is a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE)?

The Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement was introduced in November 2011. GTE says that the visa applicant should demonstrate his/her intention to stay temporarily in Australia in order to study or to accompany a student as a dependent (i.e. spouse or child) or as a guardian. At the Department of Home Affairs, the decision-makers will consider the following factors:

  • Temporarily, what are the circumstances in your home country
  • What are the potential circumstances for you in Australia
  • What is the value of your chosen course to your future
  • Your immigration history

In order for the decision-makers at the Department of Home Affairs to determine whether you meet the key GTE requirements, some applicants might be required to only fill in the visa application form whereas others might be asked to attend an interview at the nearest Australian embassy or consulate in your city/country.

How to complete an Australian student visa application form:

 

When it comes to the visa application form, all international students apply for the same visa: the Student Visa (Subclass 500), available for application online.

Before you apply for a visa, you will need to obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) or a Letter of Offer that will confirm that you have been accepted into a course that is registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions of Courses (CRICOS). You will need to enter the COE, which will be in the form of an online code into the appropriate section in the online visa application. You might also be required to pay a deposit towards your tuition fees.

For studying in Australia at the same or a higher study level, you can change your course afterwards. In case you are changing your course to a lower level, you will need to apply for a new visa on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) or a non-AQF level course (unless you are changing from a PhD to a master’s). An added advantage is that you may also package your studies by studying two or more courses on your Student Visa (Subclass 500) with a clear progression from one course to another.

 

What are the requirements for an Australian student visa?

 

While you are completing your online visa application form, you will be needed to present evidence of the following according to the Australian student visa requirements:

  • Financial requirements: It is important to provide an evidence of sufficient fu nds to cover your tuition fees as well as travel and living costs. February 2018 onwards, it has been decided that the amount you need to prove you have for living costs (apart from your tuition and travel) is set at AU$20,290 (~US$15,600) per year. In case you have any dependents (such as your spouse and children), you will also have to show evidence that states that you are able to cover living costs for them, inclusive of school fees. Other than that, you can also show evidence that your parents or your spouse are willing to support you and that they earn at least AU$60,000 (~US$46,140) per year.
  • English proficiency requirement: If you do not come from an English-speaking country (and have not completed at least five years of study in an English-speaking country) you will be required to prove that you can speak English to the level required in Australia. Eligible English-language tests are entlisted on the website of the Department of Home Affairs. Tests such as IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) fall under the list of English-language proficiency tests. If you have already taken any of these tests, you can produce them as evidence. The score that you need depends on whether you are starting a full degree, doing a foundation course, or enrolling on a preliminary English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).
  • Health requirements: If you intend to train as a doctor, dentist or a nurse, you may be asked to take a medical and/or a radiological check-up to prove that you are in good health. If you are asked to do so, you will have to book an appointment with a doctor approved by the Australian immigration department.

All students travelling to Australia are obliged to purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). In order to purchase this health cover, you can contact your university, or purchase it directly from one of the five approved providers: Australian Health Management, BUPA Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance and nib OSHC. Also, the cost of the health insurance cover often varies depending on the provider and the span of time that you purchase the cover for.

  • Character requirements: The Australian student visa requires that you must be of good character in order to enter Australia. This is inclusive of a criminal record check that makes sure you don’t have a substantial criminal record. You may also be needed to acquire a penal clearance certificate (or police certificate) or obtain a police statement, as well as be asked to complete a Character Statutory Declaration Form.

What are the documents required for an Australian student visa?

 

The website of the Department of Home Affairs has a checklist featuring a list of documents that you are required to submit for specific circumstances.

Generally, students are required to submit the following:

  • Your completed Australian student visa application form (157A)
  • Paid visa application fees – currently AU$560 (~US$430) in most cases
  • A copy of your passport biodata page (you may also be asked to physically provide your passport)
  • Your Certificate of Enrolment or Letter of Offer
  • An evidence of your sufficient funds
  • An evidence of your health insurance cover
  • Your English proficiency test results
  • Your criminal record check results
  • Four copies of your recent passport-sized photographs
  • After you have completed assembling and scanning your supporting documents, you will need to create an account and apply with the online ImmiAcccount application system.
  • Mostly, visa applications take about four weeks to process. If you are going to study in Australia for a course that is of a duration longer than 10 months and that finishes at the end of an Australian academic year (usually mid-December), in such a case, your visa will generally be valid until 15 March of the following year. If in case your course extends over 10 months and finishes in January or October, your visa will generally be valid for two months after the completion of your course.
  • Under some circumstances, it might be possible for you to apply for a further visa at the end of your course for which you will need to consult the Department of Home Affairs website to get additional details.

How to use your student visa?

You are permitted to enter Australia on your student visa up to 90 days (3 months) before the commencement of your course. Within the first seven days of arrival, you need to inform your education provider of the address where you are residing, and also inform them within those seven days if you change your address.

While you are on your student visa, you will be allowed to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the time your course term is going on, and you can work full-time during the holidays. The student visa is automatically issued with permission for you to work, although you will not be allowed to begin working in the country until your course has commenced. You must also not entirely rely on work in order to support yourself or your family while you are in Australia.

If you are studying a master’s by research or a PhD program, you will not have any work restrictions. However, you must keep in mind that any work that is required as a part of your course is not included in the limit. Any work that is voluntary or unpaid is also not included in the 40-hour work limit if it is genuinely voluntary such as for a non-profit organization and for something that benefits the community.

For as long as you are in possession of a student visa, you have to adhere to certain obligations: you must remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course; you have to attend your classes on a regular basis; you have to make a satisfactory progress in your course as well as maintain an OSHC health insurance. Also, there are certain visa conditions that you as well as your dependents are supposed to comply with and breaching any of the visa terms and conditions might result in the cancellation of your visa in Australia.

With more than 1,150 international course programmes conducted in the English language, with over 55 higher education universities, the Netherlands is the largest provider of English-language course programmes in Europe. The Netherlands has furthermore been hailed for its ground-breaking Problem-Based Learning, or ‘PBL’ pedagogy that instils in students the capacity to analyse and solve real problems independently, through a mix of theory and application, teamwork and self-study and systematic challenging of the student’s cognitive faculties. To be eligible for a study visa to the Netherlands, one must fulfil certain mandatory conditions.

Primarily, you should be accepted by a recognised university or university of applied sciences as a student to a full-time accredited day program. This allows the concerned university to become your sponsor. All recognised educational institutions are listed in the Public Register of Recognised Sponsors. Secondly, you need to show sufficient income to support your education, living expenses etc. for the duration of your study. Further, you submit an undertaking to obtain at least 50% of the required credits for each academic year. Lastly, if you score below an IELTS Band 6, you can have a one-time maximum period of 12 months to prepare for your studies, through an English or Dutch course. Having stated the minimum requirements needed to get admission to a Dutch university, you would have to fill the online application to schedule an interview for your MVV at the closest Dutch embassy in your country.

Working in the Netherlands as an international student

On the back of your residence permit, it ought to say ‘Tewerkstellingsvergunning (TWV) vereist voor arbeid van bijkomende aard, andere arbeid in loondienst niet toegestaan’. Students need to ascertain whether they have been given this at the time of visa issuance or not.  You may only work in paid employment, if your employer has a TWV for you. You are then allowed to work for a maximum of 16 hours a week or full-time during the summer months of June, July and August. This also means that you must adhere to the legal requirements to maintain your student status in the Netherlands, barring which you could receive a fine or a penalty or even, both.

You are allowed to work in the Netherlands as a self-employed person (without a TWV). To do so, it is important that you continue to meet the requirements for your residence permit for study. Many students choose innovative ways of dealing with shoestring student expense budgets by opening pop up eateries, playing an instrument in a location or even, selling Indian fast food as a novelty, all of which come under the umbrella of being self-employed. If you are planning to take up an internship in the Netherlands, you do not need a TWV if the internship is relevant to your field of study. You and your educational institution have signed an internship agreement with the company, where you will do your internship.

Seeking employment in the Highly Educated Person track

You are eligible for a residence permit ‘Orientation Year Highly Educated Persons’ if you meet the following conditions, while in the Netherlands:

  • Within three years preceding the submission of the application, you: have completed an accredited Bachelor’s or Master’s programme or a postdoctoral programme in the Netherlands;
  • Have had a residence permit in the Netherlands for the purpose of scientific research or a residence permit for the purpose of working as a knowledge migrant to undertake scientific research;
  • Have obtained a Master’s degree on the basis of an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Course;

There are certain other conditions to gain entry into the Netherlands, with a valid work permit. You could find the form here at https://ind.nl/en/Forms/7523.pdf.

With a solid social security system, excellent work-life balance, government sanctions for self-employment, the Netherlands is on the list for most students from across the globe.

Ireland has one of the highest educational involvement rates in the world with almost half (48 percent) of the Irish population having attained at least a college-level education, which is in sharp contrast with the less-than-40 percent level of the other developed countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Belgium, and France. Eighty-one percent of Irish students complete secondary school and approximately 60 percent go on to higher education, scoring significantly higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average in reading literacy and science, says an OECD report. Little wonder then that so many international companies ranging from computers to pharmaceuticals, from financial services to telemarketing consider Ireland, time and again when hiring graduates and making location decisions for entry into the European market.

Whether you want to explore the Irish plains, take advantage of its solid education system or find employment, you will need a visa to enter Ireland. If you wish to visit Ireland for a period of less than 3 months for a holiday or to pursue a short course of studies or on business, then you can apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa – either a single entry or multiple entry visas depending on the duration and frequency of your visit. On the other hand, if you would like to travel to Ireland for more than 3 months to pursue a course of study at an Irish accredited school or institution (above high school), for work or to settle permanently in Ireland with family members who are already resident in Ireland, then you can apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa for a single entry or a purpose appropriate visa, as explained below.

If you are a non-EEA (Eastern European Association) national coming to study in Ireland, you must be enrolled in a full-time course on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) regulations stipulate that students who are from a country outside the EEA, then you must apply for a student visa. A student visa application must include evidence of ready access to a minimum sum of EU 7,000, which is the sum computed for a year of study in Ireland. Apart from this, they must also have a valid admit letter from the Irish University, along with the requisite allied documents as well as proof of medical insurance, if provided by college. Since 1 June 2015, non-EEA nationals can enrol in an eligible course at High School Certificate/Level 6 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The maximum time they can study in Ireland at this level is 7 years. There are exceptions to this limit for students doing a Ph.D or a course such as medicine and in special circumstances, wherein the student is suffering from ill-health.

Upon graduation, the students receive an extension of their permission to remain in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Scheme. This scheme allows a non-citizen graduate of an Irish university to find employment and apply for a General Employment Permit or a Critical Skills Employment Permit, as the case may warrant. For example, graduates with a Bachelor’s qualification may get a 12-month extension to their residence permission; up to a maximum of 7 years of student permission overall. Graduates with postgraduate qualifications or above may get a 24-month extension (2 blocks of 12-months) to their permission up to a maximum of 8 years of student permission overall.

In recognition of the potential foreign revenue and generation of employment in local areas, the Irish government have taken strong steps in projecting Ireland as a much preferred educational destination! With its excellent infrastructure, eminent educational credentials and excellent employment opportunities, Ireland is most certainly a study option that students should consider.

You can find detailed information at:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Irish%20Visa%20Information.

http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_to_ireland/studying_in_ireland/immigration_nonEEA_students.html.

http://www.nfq-qqi.com/qualifications-frameworks.html.

A dramatic rise in the number of Indian students applying to Canadian Student Partnership Program (SPP) colleges in the last few years has led to increased processing time for university applications. Earlier, while the turnaround time for receiving an acceptance letter from the university was two weeks, it now takes about six to eight weeks for the same. The growth in the number of Indian students selecting Canada as their preferred educational destination is directly linked to the UK’s announcement on the exclusion of Indian students as beneficiaries of faster visa norms. On the rebound, Canada received as many as 83,410 student applications in 2017; an escalation of 58 per cent over the previous years.

Considering that Indian students now make up the largest class of international students receiving Canadian study permits, surpassing even China, which topped the list in 2016, they received 26 per cent of the total study permits in 2017. The trend rose further between the months of January 2018 and April 2018, with more than 29,000 Indian students receiving study permits; as opposed to China recording a count of 17,000 permits.

To accommodate this influx, Canada, which is regarded as a prestigious educational destination, announced on June 8 this year, about the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program, a fast track system for visa processing. As part of the process, visas of students from India, China and Vietnam will be processed in 45 days as opposed to the older SPP process that took 60 days.

Students applying for SDS will be required to submit proof of the requisite financial resources and language proficiency in order to avail this opportunity. They need to fulfil requirements that include securing admission in a post-secondary institute; a minimum score band of 6.0 in each section (Listening, Writing, Reading and Speaking) in IELTS, proof of tuition fee payment; and medical examination a week prior to the submission of the application. Aided by Scotiabank, a Canadian financial institution, the SDS also has a requirement of a $10,000 Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) offered by Scotiabank, which will cover the student’s living expenses for the first year.

While the SPP was introduced earlier to speed up the visa application process and reduce documentation, it could only be availed by students applying to 40 participating learning institutes. To overcome this drawback, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) devised SDS with an aim to broaden the limited scope of SPP. Students availing SDS can apply to any of the designated educational institutes.

Further, SDS allows a more streamlined visa application process for all participating institutions or universities, by reducing documentation, and speeding up the visa processing time to 45 days. If, upon submission, a student’s application is complete, the immigration department can begin reviewing it right away. Nevertheless, if the student fails to meet the SDS requirements, but fulfils the regular study permit requirements, their application will be considered as a regulation permit; and, therefore, will not receive the benefits of SDS.

Students applying to Canadian universities have a clear advantage in the newly introduced SDS program. To learn more about the Canadian Visa process and resolve any visa related issues, contact our experienced counselors, who have a 100 per cent success rate in student visa counselling.

F1 Student Visa applicants are increasingly becoming apprehensive about the Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, especially in keeping with the strict immigration policies introduced by the Donald Trump administration. But rest assured that it can be easily overcome if the required shortfall or documentation is fulfilled.

At the outset, let us understand about section 221 (g) and why it is issued to an applicant. Upon scrutiny of your visa application documents, the applicant is sometimes informed that a final decision cannot be made on his visa application immediately. In such a case, the consular officer raises the Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and informs the applicant that the case will be withheld till the applicant’s eligibility for the visa can be proved. The increasing number of such cases needed processing “time-out”.

Most often, the 221(g) cases for the F1 visa are related to the security aspect or alternatively to establish the genuine eligibility of candidate for study, wherein the consular officer requires additional time, information, or documentation before making a final visa decision. In connection to security, it has been observed that students who apply for programs pertaining to fields that fall under the Technology Alert List are subjected to the section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The reason for invoking this act is that the US does not want to collaborate on sensitive technologies with the wrong individuals, who may misuse knowledge to harm people or damage property. In such cases, the applicant is requested to provide a resume, list of publications in the relevant field, and a description of the program and career plan of the applicant. Very often, these clearances are a mere formality, which makes time for running the application through various security checks.

On the other hand, eligibility related issues may include investigations or verifications in India or requests for information or documentation related to the qualifications of the applicant for a visa like education, work experience, paper publication, past or current research, Statement of Purpose, funding, itinerary and co-travellers. A consular officer may seek to investigate or verify issues such as:

  • Employment of an applicant
  • Tax filings or information pension fund payments; authenticity of an education document
  • Intentions or existence of a sponsor in the US.
  • Authenticity of a statutory document, such as a marriage, birth, or divorce certificate.
  • Legitimacy of a marriage

Sometimes you are asked to furnish additional documents, which may include:

  • A police verification certificate that confirms the residence of the applicant after the age of 16;
  • Certified copies of court dispositions (arrests, convictions); confirmation of the date of a past departure from the US (e.g. visa overstay);
  • If working professional, then employer tax documentation; additional affidavit of support (e.g., if consular officer does not accept the submitted affidavit of support);
  • Financial documents to sponsor the education of applicant in a US university;
  • Additional information about the program to be studied in the US.

Sometimes, even though all your documentation and information is correct, you may end up with the section 221(g) letter. In such a scenario, the investigations that were carried out may have been inaccurate. For example, a consular officer may mistakenly believe that an applicant has a background in a technology that is on the Technology Alert List; a consular investigator may visit the wrong office address; a secretary who picks up the phone at the applicant’s place of employment may tell the consular caller that no such person works there when in fact the applicant does work there; a consular officer may be attempting to re-adjudicate a previously-approved employment petition by requiring additional documentation or sending it back to USCIS.

Therefore, being proactive in dealing with a 221(g) decision by a consular officer will benefit you by resolving the issue at the earliest. It is advocated that applicants should not only cooperate with reasonable consular requests but should also seek to aggressively challenge unreasonable requests or demands and extended delays in processing.

To provide the required information or documentations, you should submit the same at the nearest CGI document pickup location within one year from the date you received the 221(g) letter. Failing this, you will be required to submit a fresh visa application and pay all associated fees in order to continue with your visa application process.

Submission of 221(g) documents:

  1. Print a Document Submission Letter and complete the checklist manually.
  2. Visit the nearest Common Gateway Interface (CGI) document pickup location. Carry your 221(g) submission slip, the 221(g) letter given to you at the Embassy or Consulate, and all documents requested in your 221(g) letter.
  3. Submit your documents and the 221(g) submission slip at the CGI document collection office. CGI will acknowledge the 221(g) submission slip for you to keep for your records.
  4. CGI delivers your documents to the Embassy or Consulate.
  5. CGI returns your documents and your passport to you at your chosen document delivery pickup location. If the visa is issued, your passport will contain your visa or alternatively, you may also receive a new 221(g) letter.

Now that you have understood about Section 221(g), dealing with it would not be a major challenge. Meet our expert counsellors today, who have a 100% success rate on conversion of the observation under section 221(g) to an F1 visa holder. Visit our centers for abroad career counseling today and we will help resolve any issues on your visa applications and 221(g) status.

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!

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 https://www.collegepond.com/trumps-additional-tax-policy-silver-lining-stem-opt-aspirants/

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.

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