Data released by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicates a recent surge in the number of Indian students seeking to study in American universities. According their report, there has been a “31.9% increase in the number of Indian students studying in American universities since 2014”. This bucks a trend that goes back almost a decade: from 2008-09 to 2013-14, the number of Indian students studying at American Universities was a fairly flat 1,00,000 annually. In 2014-15, this figure jumped by around 32% to 1,32,888.
Every year U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H1B petitions starting from 1st April. As such, petitions for the fiscal year 2017 will be accepted from 1st April 2016. The current quota for H1B VISA is 65,000 under the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption – also known as the Masters quota. Thus, the total quota stands at 85,000. In the previous year, USCIS received a total of nearly 233,000 H1B petitions under both the categories put together from 1st April to 7th April and then they stopped accepting new applications. For the first time, USCIS received more than the limit of 20,000 H1B petitions under the Masters quota (the exact number of applications is not declared by USCIS). Computer generated random selection process (lottery) is conducted for Masters quota petitions which selects 20,000 applicants for the Master’s degree cap completion. The H1B petitions filed under Masters quota cap, but not selected in the first round of lottery are then added to the general quota of petitions. The lottery is then conducted for this pool to select 65,000 petitions towards the general quota cap completion. USCIS rejects and returns the remaining H1B petitions.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending it F1 non immigrant visa regulations on Optional Practical Training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) from US institutions of higher education.
OPT is a period during which undergraduates (BS/BA) and graduate students (MS/MBA) with F1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than 9 months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for 12 months on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their education. On April 2nd 2008 DHS announced a 17-month extension to the OPT for students in qualifying STEM fields to be eligible for the 12-month permit. Any degree in any field of studies is valid. For the 17-month OPT extension a student must have received a STEM degree as listed on the USCIS website.
The US government issues more than 30 different types of visa. For example, tourists and business-men are issued B-1 or B-2 visas and those authorized to work in US are given an H-1B visa. Students going for vocational courses, such as, in flying schools or English language courses get an M-1 visa. However, most students require an F-1 visa stamp.
This is the most commonly issued type of visa for students going to an accredited university for a full-time academic program lasting for one or more years.
The new visa process announced by the US Consulate in September 2012 is completely new. Everything has changed right from payment of the visa fees to scheduling a date at the consulate. The following steps are involved.
- filling in the DS 160 form
- paying the visa fees
- scheduling appointments for:
- submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
- the Visa Interview
1. Online Filling of the DS 160 Form
The first step is to fill the DS 160 form online. Filling the form generates a CONFIRMATION NUMBER. You will require this number to print the ‘Receipt of Payment’ (which, in this case, is printed out before you make any payment!) since it contains the CGI reference number that is required if you are going to pay the visa fees in cash.
If you are applying for fall 2014 the clock has begun to tick. So, don’t delay. Review this Application Timeline for Fall 2014 immediately and get to work. Here it is:
June-August 2013 – Review you goals for MS education and choose some specific areas in which you would like to specialize.
Name: Sagar Suhas Bhadgaonkar
Degree: BE (Computer Engineering), Univ. of Pune
Work Experience: 2.5+ years in Accenture Technology Solutions, as a Software Engineer
GRE Score: 1400 (Old Scale)/ 322 (New Scale)
– Verbal: 640 (Old Scale)/162 (New Scale)
– Quant: 760 (Old Scale)/160 (New Scale)