Trump’s new executive order of H1B Visa suspension will not affect Indian students

H1B Visa

President Donald Trump, on Monday, June 22, issued an executive order temporarily suspending stamping for new H-1B and few other work visas till December 31, 2020.

While the news may come as a setback for IT professionals aspiring to go to the US this year, students completing graduation in the USA, need not panic.

Who will be affected by this executive order? 

IT companies 

This move will affect the IT companies in India that work for US clients and send their employees on H1B visas or L Visas to work at client sites. The suspension will prohibit the entry of IT professionals in the USA on work-related projects till December 2020. The freeze will apply to the following visas:

  1. H1-B Visas: Used by Tech workers
  2. H4 Visa: Dependents of H1B visa holders
  3. L visas – Transfer within the same company
  4. J Visa – Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa
  5. H2-B – Visas for low-skill jobs

H1B aspirants of 2020-21 fiscal 

The H1B lottery process for 2020-21 fiscal has completed. The sponsoring companies of those picked in the lottery had hoped to complete the application process by June end and have the employees onboard this year itself. However, with the new ban, the employees will not be able to join this October and will have to wait till December.

No effect on F1 visa and OPT

Students pursuing their education in the US are on an F1 student visa. You can still find an internship or co-op on CPT while studying. Also, on completion of your graduation, you can start working in the US on OPT. Students who are already on OPT and whose H1B visas have been picked in the lottery, will not be affected by the order. However, it is highly recommended that they do not travel outside the US under these circumstances.

 Better chance for employment to students with strong academics and US degrees  

Following this order, Trump has also directed his administration to reform the H-1B visa system and move in the direction of merit-based immigration. Additionally, the lottery system which picks up applications randomly will now be replaced by a merit-based system that will prioritize the highest salaries to “get the best and the brightest”.

Therefore, students who have demonstrated excellent academics and have advanced degrees in the US universities will increase their chances of securing a high paying job and benefit them greatly.

6 Easy Hacks to Get You Back in the Online Learning Game!

As convenient as they might seem, online classes do demand extra efforts when it comes to concentrating. It is quite easy to focus during classroom lectures as there is two-way communication and the right kind of environment with no reasons to get distracted. However, in online classes, it is a task to focus and soak everything in as it is comfortable and there is no fear of being noticed or called out by the teacher! This lack of concentration might leave you with no substantial learning at the end of the day.

To enable you to stay focused during your online lectures, and make the most out of them, here is our quick video blog of 6 easy hacks to get you back in the learning game!

Four Best Ways to Take Quick & Effective Notes During Online Classes

How to take quick notes during online classes (1)

Most of the institutes have begun taking online classes for the completion of programs. Though online classes are extremely convenient, they also require you to adapt to certain skills that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered a challenge; one of the most important skills being ‘taking notes’.

Taking down notes is an integral part of the learning process and is often done at ease during classroom lectures or pre-recorded lectures. However, it can prove to be a real task during live lectures because they are generally faster than classroom lectures and there is no way the teacher can moderate his/her speed to suit every student’s speed. It is, therefore, necessary for the student to be quick and focused to take effective notes.

Considering this, here are a few handy ways that will help you take notes swiftly without losing your attention:

Go back to the old-school method: Our tech-savvy selves have become too used to typing with fingers which is why writing things down on a paper has almost become obsolete.

Many of us take notes on their desktops but it becomes a hassle to toggle between the screens. Worse, if you are attending the lectures through your mobile phone it becomes nearly impossible to take notes without losing attention. Therefore, take handwritten notes and avoid the stress.

Create an outline and framework: Read the topic that you will be taught in the lecture beforehand and take down some key points. This will help you keep a framework ready and you can note down more sub-points and in-depth points as the lecture progresses. This method prevents information overload and you do not end up writing everything down.

Go for flow notes and diagrams: Another interesting way to remember what’s taught is to write only the key points, sketch quick diagrams, draw connecting arrows to give the information flow and arrange it pictorially. You can also devise your shorthand symbols and abbreviations and study them later in-depth.

Try the Cornell method: The Cornell method is a very popular method of taking notes in an easy and organized manner. Divide the page beforehand into three sections: Two columns and one row at the bottom of the page. In the larger right column write down initial notes, important sentences, and phrases, general ideas of topics taught. In the smaller left column write down cues, keywords, comments, and questions that arise from the notes on the right side. In the bottom row, write down a summary. This method helps you to study a topic thoroughly and easily.

So which way are you going to try for your next online class?

Lockdown activity: Ten tips to write a compelling resume for your dream job!

Resume, as they rightly say, is your first impression to the recruiter and a testament to your personality, accomplishments, and goals. It is one of the most important steps to landing a good job and building a successful career.
Given the lockdown, we are aware of your boredom and apprehensions about college, job, career, and everything that follows. But why not keep the worries aside and utilize this time for something constructive? Why not pave the way to a great future with just one smart step: One smart resume?

Here are ten tips to shed your fears and start drafting your perfect resume for your next perfect job:

Compile everything meticulously: The first step to drafting a great resume is to carefully compile your work experience, all the jobs, accomplishments, and details of your skill sets. This becomes the main resource for creating your resume as well as preparing for your interview.

Give it a tight edit: The next step is prioritizing and editing the information, with your ideal job in mind. Your goal: To communicate that everything you’ve done in your past is naturally & powerfully leading you to this next role. Eliminate ALL the content that does not lend itself to that story. EVERY point should contribute to the story effectively.

Address all posted job requirements possible: Make sure that you are ticking off everything that the recruiter expects for the position you are applying to. That will only show you in versatile light and speak louder about your experience and expertise.

‘Keywords’ is the key: Remember that whenever there is a writeup, a scanner or a person is always looking for keywords to quickly map everything and make mental notes. Instead of making it very wordy, if you use the right keywords that the recruiter is interested in, your chances of being noticed and filtered increase.

Avoid jargon: Always remember, a simple, precise, original, and honest resume makes much more impact on the recruiter than the one dotted with jargon and unnecessary fancy words. Keep it simple, comprehensive, and realistic.

Leave no gaps in work history: Oftentimes, we forget or choose to not mention a particular work experience for one or more reasons. But evident work gaps serve as a major deterrent when it comes to recruitment and raises red flags. Make sure that you chronologically mention your entire work history and don’t give a chance to the recruiter to question your whereabouts.

Ensure your information is legally accurate and will stand-up to background checks: This is a very important point to consider. Make sure everything you write in the resume is authentic, verifiable, and legally accurate. Even minor discrepancies serve as red flags and threaten your chances of bagging a good job.

Make sure your resume does not contain ANY errors/typos: Edit your resume thoroughly to avoid any errors or typos. A resume reflects the quality of the work you promise to deliver and hence it has to be crisp, well-written, and impressive.

Make sure your resume is “easy on the eye”: Many times, people are inclined to use fancy resume templates with a variety of colors, fonts and designs because they think it keeps the reader hooked. However, it makes the opposite impact. A gaudy resume distracts the recruiter. Hence you must keep it very decent, easy to scan, and absorb. The recruiter typically spends as little as 15 seconds and no more than 2 minutes to assess if you are the right fit. So make sure you provide everything that is necessary to be noted in this brief time.

Put on the hiring manager’s hat: Before sharing the resume, step into the shoes of the hiring manager for a moment, and scan your resume from their perspective.

Has it compelled you enough? Check for all the points and then take the call.

Confusion created by recent news about H1B and OPT cancellations

The recent news about the proposed cancellation of H1B and OPT visas in various national newspapers has sent a wave of panic among Indian students and working professionals. With considerable experience in these matters, we present to you a clarification of these news items to ease your doubts and future plans of studying in the US.

On 8th May, five US senators and one congressman wrote a letter to President Donald Trump requesting him to suspend H1B and OPT visas for one year in view of the soaring unemployment in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To begin with, we want to clarify that it is not a petition but only a letter presenting an opinion/suggestion. Such letters can be written by anyone to the President. It does not mean that the President will immediately pass an executive order on the basis of this letter.

Further, acting on the letter is not an easy task. Firstly, only 5 Republican senators out of a 100, and one congressman out of 435, is a very small number to make an impact or drive a decision. Secondly, in the United States, these decisions will impact the two powerful lobbies that hold a lion’s share in their economy: The universities and IT companies. The economy of universities largely depends upon tuition fees from international students and this proposal will directly affect their student intake. Similarly, the majority of IT companies depend heavily on Indian and Chinese professionals who hold Masters degrees from American universities. Thus, the President is unlikely to make such a drastic decision which will have a boomerang effect on their economy.

What we must also not forget is that the letter could very well be a political gimmick, considering the November 2020 presidential elections. Against that backdrop, it is only advisable not to give importance to such letters and news items in the newspapers and go ahead with your study plans since universities and companies will continue to look to India for skilled engineers and tech professionals.

Will President Trump’s New Executive Order of Temporary Immigration Suspension Affect Indian Students?

To begin with, students planning to study in the USA need not worry about this order.

President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, April 22, signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration (new green cards). He said that he took this action to protect American jobs amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, there has been a lot of panic and confusion among Indian students about the implications of the order on student visas and work permits.

But as a matter of fact, the order applies only to those seeking permanent residence (green card) in the United States. It has been issued only for 60 days, at which point it will be re-evaluated and potentially extended.

To further clear the confusion, here are a few specifics of the order:

The order will apply to foreign nationals seeking a Green Card and who are outside the US at the time of the order. (With certain exceptions)

The order does not apply to non-immigrant visa applicants such as F1, H1B, and L1. So students who have completed their graduation and are on OPT can apply for their H1B visa (work permit) without any hassle.

Similarly, the order also has no effect on F1 visas, and students seeking to go to the US for further studies can do so without any hindrance from US consulates in India.

The order does not affect the processing of immigrant petitions (Green Card) and adjustment of status applications for those who are applying for their green cards from within the US.

Lockdown Dilemma : Go For Online Semester or Request a Deferral?

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, most of the US universities are currently offering two options to fall 2020 students:

1) Online semester for fall 2020 and regular on-campus coaching from spring 2021

2) Deferral to spring 2021/fall 2021

Now as you are aware, the situation is indeed gruesome in the United States where the number of corona patients is increasing every day and there is no clarity on when the pandemic will be arrested and things will normalize.  Under such circumstances, it is obvious for the universities to offer deferrals or move to online teaching as a precautionary measure.

However, as Indian students, here are a few things you must take into consideration before making any decision:

Feasibility of online semester

  • Even for the online medium, students will have to pay full tuition fees for the full semester. (Some universities may reduce fees by 20 to 25 percent)
  • Online semester will mean no financial assistance, no campus jobs/RA/TA which then makes the course unnecessarily expensive to bear.
  • Online semester does not offer the exposure and opportunities that a student otherwise gets while on campus.
  • There are certain limitations to online coaching since the interaction is usually limited as compared to classroom coaching.
  • In any case, students will have to apply for the F1 visa for spring 2021 and in the worst circumstances, if the visa gets rejected; the entire amount spent on the online fall semester goes waste.

Current visa scenario

  • The US consulate has been non-operational since March 16 and there is no clarity when it will resume operations. Once it resumes, there will be a tremendous rush for visas and the situation will become chaotic. (Though it is quite possible that the consulate will give priority to student visas.)

Taking all these factors into account, we recommend that you get in touch with the concerned university official and request time till the end of May to make the final decision of deferral.

Coronavirus Lockdown: US Student Visas and Admission Deferral Updates – Part 3

With the rising number of patients in the United States and the lockdown declared in India, there is no clarity on when the consulates will start processing the visas again. Considering this, it is anticipated that there will be a backlog of visa interviews and many prospective fall 2020 students are panicking whether they will get their visas in time.

Though the consulates are positive of issuing visas on time, many universities in the US have begun offering deferrals in case situations do not improve until August 2020 and students need to postpone their travel and join the course later in Spring. 

As per our latest correspondence, the Offices of International Admissions of most universities have offered deferral for students from one semester up to one year. 

All the fall 2020 undergraduates can get deferral to spring 2021. The graduate deferral, however, can only be offered by the program coordinator. Students are therefore required to connect with the graduate advisors of respective universities since not all units (programs) are offered deferrals. 

Though most universities are offering deferrals up to one year, they are encouraging students to not defer at the moment and wait until May. 

For students who are in the middle of their semester in the US but are currently in India, can fly back to the States once the travel ban is lifted and more so, after obtaining clearance from the US Consulate. For regular updates, visit the DHS and consulate websites.

Important links: 

https://www.dhs.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-news-updates

https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/

Coronavirus Lockdown: US Admission Process Updates – Part 2

In the last blog, we saw the fall 2020 course commencement decisions that the universities are likely to make.

As per the recent updates we received from the office of graduate and undergraduate admissions of a few universities, the fall 2020 admission process is going on and students who are still sending applications can connect with the admission office staff via video chat and email. Those who haven’t received any admits yet, have nothing to worry as the admission process will not be canceled and they will receive admits, though the decision may be released later than the usual time taken by the universities. 

Fall 2020 Graduate Admissions

The graduate application deadlines will not be extended for most universities. As we informed you in the last blog, those of you who haven’t received the I-20 approval yet, the staff are creating the I-20s but the shipments are being withheld until the mail services in India fully resume. For admitted students, the university will send an email with the student’s SEVIS number from the I20 which can be used to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee that is mandatory for the F1 visa application process. 

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Admissions 

In consideration of the disruption of exams and classes, most universities have extended the application deadline for fall 2020 undergraduate applications to May 1, 2020. 

Sending official transcripts and financial documents 

In case you haven’t been able to obtain your official academic records/transcripts due to closure of school or college, US universities are allowing you to send unofficial, digital transcripts for securing admission. 

Even if the deadlines for sending graduate applications have not been extended, most universities have extended their document deadline for graduate admissions to May 1, 2020. This is however applicable to only admitted students. This means you can send your official or university attested mark sheets/degree certificates/transcripts to the office and finish other paperwork by May 1. The packages need to be post-marked by May 1, 2020. Few other universities have also extended these deadlines up to mid-May. 

Most universities have also announced an extension to send financial documents. Some universities have extended this deadline up to May 15 while some of them have extended it up to July 1. 

In the next part, we will cover the updates on visa, program decisions and deferrals offered by universities. The next blog will be published on Saturday,  4th April 2020.

Coronavirus Lockdown: Student Safety in US and Course Commencement Updates – Part 1

To update our students on the changing situations in the US due Coronavirus outbreak, we are publishing this blog that will be carried in three parts. In this first part, we shall provide you with firsthand information about student safety, fall 2020 admissions, and course commencement decision.

 International student safety scenario

All the international students in the US are safe and have been asked to stay in their respective housing facilities within the US.  For those who are on campus, many universities are providing temporary accommodations with fixed supplies until any other arrangements are made by the student.  All the universities are offering only online classes for the spring 2020 semester. Universities have offered webinars to enable students to continue their studies and chat in real-time with the faculty members. Most universities have also shifted their administrative offices online. Students have also been provided with essential contacts and links to US Health Departments.

Fall 2020 admissions and course commencement decisions  

A lot of confusion is going on among Indian students about the fall 2020 admissions and whether the course will commence in time or not, considering that the embassy has temporarily stopped processing US visas. However, universities are actively arranging webinars for the prospective students where they are informing students about the process. You can get in touch with the universities you have secured admits from and join the webinars. 

Meanwhile, here are a few developments about the fall admissions and course commencement, that as Indian students, you must pay heed to:  

  • Even if the visa process has been stopped, for now, admissions of students who have received admits for fall 2020 is secure. 
  • As per the possibilities cited by a few prominent US universities, there are three ways in which fall 2020 session will be commenced: 
    1. If the situation comes under control by May 2020, the session will commence in August as per regular schedule but the students will be required to join 14 days prior to the commencement date and they will be quarantined for these 14 days before moving them to the campus.
    2. If the situation comes under control by June/July, the semester will commence in   September and it will be an on-campus semester.
    3. If the situation does not improve until July/August, the fall semester too could likely be shifted to online mode.  The decision is also likely to be influenced by the situation in India but in any case, the fall semester and admissions will not be canceled. 
  • Those of you with I-20 forms already approved, their forms will land in India on time since the shipping process is still functional in the US but the forms won’t be delivered at home. They will be delivered only after the lockdown in India is lifted. Those who have their approval pending will have to wait for the updates as the Department of Homeland Security will be taking a call on it soon. 

 

The next blog will cover updates on the admission process to US universities and will be published on Thursday, 2nd April 2020.