Time to rejoice: Trump administration revokes the rule regarding online classes for fall semester

A huge relief for International students

Indian students can now heave a sigh of relief as the Trump administration has finally revoked the new visa rule that required International students taking fully online classes in the US for the fall semester, to return to their home countries.

In our last blog dated 08/07/2020, we wrote in detail about the new rule and its possible repercussions on existing and new students aspiring to go to the US.

Soon after the announcement of this rule on July 6, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and many other institutes as well top American IT companies had filed lawsuits against the administration, seeking reversal of the rule. In response to these lawsuits, the Boston Federal Court revoked this rule on Tuesday, and asked the immigration authorities to pull the directive and return to the “status quo.”

Another factor that contributed to the reversal of the rule is the fact that a whooping number of international students join US universities every year and provide the required tuition revenue. International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy every year. Sustenance of the new rule would have plummeted the enrollment and subsequently led to a deep financial crisis for the universities as well the country.

Now that rule has been revoked, international students, including Indian students, will be able to stay in the US even if they are pursuing online classes for the fall 2020 semester. New students who are in the process of joining the US universities for spring 2021 sessions will also be able to smoothly continue their visa process and education in the US.

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Deferrals And Student Visas

FAQs about deferrals and Student Visa

With the current pandemic situation and uncertainties about deferrals and Visa regulations, most of you who are in the process of joining US universities for MS or who are planning to join next year, have a lot of queries and doubts. To guide you better and help you make a decision, here are the answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1) I am currently taking GRE classes, and I plan to apply next year. Is it safe to go next year?

Answer: Yes. You can safely apply for Fall 2021 since the situation will normalize by then. Things will begin to get under control right after the November presidential elections.

Q2) Should I defer my Fall 20 admission to Spring 21 or Fall 21?

Answer: At the moment, you can defer your admission to Spring 21 since it is likely that the situation will be under control by then and in-person classes will resume. Otherwise, you will have to extend the deferral to Fall 21.

Q3) I have received admits from eight universities. Will all of them accept deferral for Fall 21?

Answer: No. All the universities may not accept deferral for Fall 21. Some of them are asking students to reapply next year for the fall session.  In that case, your application will be evaluated along with the new applicants. Fortunately, the number of students applying next year will be comparatively less. Therefore, your chances of acceptance will not be hampered.

Q4) When should I book my visa dates if I want to go in Spring 21?

Answers: Visa booking dates for October are now available. Visit the official website of US Consulate for booking your date.

Q5) I am planning to defer to Spring 21, and hence I have booked my visa date for October 20. If I again extend my deferral to Fall 21, do I have to book the visa date and pay the visa fee again?

Answer: In case you book the date for October but instead of joining in Spring 21, you decide to defer to Fall 21, you have to cancel the booked date and reschedule another date, anytime within a year. You need not pay the Visa fee again.

Q6) Will the current situation in the US affect my internship?

Answer: According to the SEVP Advisory, all Indian students pursuing/looking to pursue practical training opportunities, including Curricular Practical Training (CPT), pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), post-completion OPT, and/or the STEM Extension OPT are advised to remain in contact with their Designated School Official (DSO) regarding their situation.

Q7) Will the pandemic affect research and other funding opportunities offered by universities?

Answer: Since majority students are not joining universities for Fall 20, it is affecting their financial condition. On this backdrop, it is most likely that the funding opportunities will be difficult for at least the first two semesters.

Q8) Will the current situation and new rules affect the STEM category?

Answer: As of now, there is no official declaration about it, so it should not be a matter of concern.

Q9) Many universities are exempting GRE, SAT, and English Language Test scores for admissions for spring 21 and in some cases, even for fall 21. Should we not give these exams?

Answer: Very few students are applying right now hence the universities are offering exemptions. We still recommend you to appear for these exams because when the number of applicants increases next year, GRE and SAT scores will give an upper hand to your application.

For any other query about GRE, US admissions and jobs, visit our FAQ Section.

Click HERE to enroll for our online GRE batches.

How will the new F1 Visa regulation affect existing and new students?

What will happen to my F1 visa_ When can I return to the US_

This blog is regarding the recent announcement by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the continuation of F1 visas for students studying in the US and taking fully online classes for the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic.

As per the regulation, students are not allowed to take fully online courses in the fall semester while in the US and they have to return to their home country before the semester begins. After returning, they can continue to pursue their semester online from their home country but they cannot return to the US until the university resumes in-person instruction. This does not mean that their F1 visa has been cancelled. It means that the embassy will not renew the F1 visa until the university resumes in-person instruction.

Students will not lose any credits earned in the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. They will be required to take a break for only one semester, and again resume their studies in spring 2021. Also, this will not affect CPT or OPT in any manner.

The regulation also states that as an alternative, the student can either transfer to another school with in-person instruction or adopt a hybrid model with a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. This decision will not hamper the current visa process for students aspiring to join next year or those who have deferred their fall 2020 admissions to spring 2021.

New students, who have deferred their admission to spring 2021, can continue with their visa process since it is likely that in-person instruction will resume by January 2021. However, if the spring semester is also changed to online instruction, you will not be able to go to the US. In that case, you will have to defer your admission to fall 2021 and accordingly get your visas reissued for fall 2021.

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.

Free Seminar: Opportunities for Bachelor’s Degree in USA

Attend free seminar by Mr. Dilip Oak on Opportunities for Bachelor’s Degree in USA

Open to students from all streams (Std. X and above)

Parents are strongly encouraged to attend

Click HERE to register

free-seminarSeminar Highlights

  • Why US is the best destination for Undergraduate studies
    •     Comprehensive syllabus and dynamic curriculum
    •     Flexibility in choosing inter-disciplinary courses
  • Cost of education starting at 50 lakhs for 4-year program (financial aid and scholarship available)
  • Cracking the pre-requisite examinations: SAT and TOEFL
  • Student-life and extracurricular opportunities in the USA
  • Employment opportunities after graduation 

 Information on UG opportunities in Canada to be shared as well

 Speaker: Dilip Oak (Founder & Director, Dilip Oak’s Academy)

  • A recognized expert on higher education in USA, Canada and Germany since 1996
  • Trusted counselor for university admission and the visa process
  • 30,000 of his students have secured Masters admission to American universities

Event Chief Guests

Dr. Melody Stapleton (Dean)
Dr. Seema Sehrawat (Associate Dean)
College of Computer Science & Const. Mgmt.
California State University, Chico
Margaret Wolford
(International Graduate Recruiter)
School of Engineering and Applied Science
State University of New York, Binghamton

Sunday, 23rd June 2019

10:00 am

Siddhi Banquet Hall

Opp. Siddhi Garden, D.P. Road, Near Mhatre Bridge, Pune 411004

 REGISTRATION COMPULSORY

Click HERE to register


Why 2019 is a Good Time to Pursue MS in the USA – Part 1

Blog-Why-US-2019

For years, Indian students have been flocking to universities in the United States of America to pursue higher education – mainly MS degrees. However, due to uncertainties in the recent immigration policies, there is some reservation in the minds of MS candidates about whether the USA is still the best option. In this post, we are covering a few points about why 2019 is actually an opportune time to apply to American universities.

1] Trump’s New H1B Policy

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require technical expertise. In late January, US president Donald Trump announced changes in the H1B visa lottery system, which will favour students with advanced degrees in STEM fields from US universities. The new approach may result in an increase of up to 16% H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.

Statistical Advantage of the New Lottery System

H1B-New-System 

2] Beyond H1B – A Path to Citizenship

In January itself, Trump expressed his views on merit-based immigration in a tweet. He indicated that reforms would be introduced to ensure ‘simplicity and certainty’ to the stay of H1B-holders in the USA and also incorporate a path to citizenship. Realizing the need for legal immigration of skilled workers, he has said “we want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.

11-01-19-Trump-01

Further, a new law has been proposed in the US Congress to abolish country-wise quota for Green Cards. If passed, it could benefit thousands of Indian professionals waiting for a long time to secure Green Card. The proposal has been co-sponsored by 13 Senators and received great support.

To conclude, our advice to students is that do not give up on your dream of pursuing an MS in the US because of unverified rumors. The quality of education provided in American universities, the research facilities and the internships and work experience you will be able to secure are unparalleled. Seize the opportunity and make the most of it!

Legislation for New Merit Based Immigration System Announced

On 2nd August, President Trump announced that he is backing a new legislation for an immigration reform (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or the RAISE Act) for foreign individuals who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.

This is going to be immensely beneficial for Indian students in America in the long term. The legislation backs a merit based system which gives preferences to highly skilled individuals for immigration. The application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to the U.S economy.

Remember that this is still a legislation and not a law, however given that the president himself backs this legislation and Republicans control both senate and house – this is likely to be great news all around.

Following are the key highlights and how this might help highly educated Indian students who currently are / will be employed in the USA.

  1. Today green cards are awarded essentially by queue, and a candidate with higher education degrees, skills and a well-paying job is treated the same way as a candidate with low skills. To make matters worse green cards are awarded by limited country based quotas, putting Indian candidates at a disadvantage due to the large number of applicants. Merit based system will end this.
  2. The change is meant to make the application process fairer and allow applicants to know what their chances are of being approved before applying. Candidates would be able go online, answer questions about their education and employment experience, and learn if their background would help fill a workplace shortage in the United States. Applicants would also receive a score to give them a concrete idea of their chances of obtaining a visa.
  3. Although this proposal will go through many changes and debates – this is a step in the right direction. Indian students who are employed in the US after they complete their education are highly skilled individuals who possess advanced degrees with impressive research & academic backgrounds, so they should be able to clear bar for the merit based systems based on their qualifications and work experience without difficulty. This system is similar to the current immigration systems adopted in Canada and Australia – which have proven to be far better in terms of making immigration fair and efficient.

Great News (12 + 24 = 36 Months) STEM OPT Rule Survives!

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

12 Months: Granted to students on F1 (student) visa status completing undergraduate (BS/BA) or graduate (MS/MBA) degrees

24 Months Extension: Students with degrees from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields

Therefore, students completing a degree from the STEM field get an OPT period of total 36 months (Regular 12 months + 24 months extension), permitting them to work in the US without H1B visa.

STEM-OPTOPT is a temporary employment authorization that is directly related to a student’s area of study. Students pursuing their education in the US on student (F1) visa are eligible to work in the US under the F1-OPT visa program, which gives them an opportunity to apply the education obtained in an academic degree to a practical work experience.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) that challenged the STEM OPT regulations that allow F1 visa holders who have degrees in STEM fields to extend their one-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) period for an additional 24 months.

The dismissal ends this lawsuit, and the current rules governing 12-month OPT and the 24-month extension for students from STEM fields remain in place.

California State University Conducts Interactive Session for Students at Oak’s Academy

A four-member team representing four campuses of California State University visited Dilip Oak’s Academy, at Bhandarkar Road, on Tuesday, 11th April 2017. The visiting delegation comprised:

Dr. Ray Wallace
Executive Director (International Programs and Senior International Officer)
California State University, East Bay

Dr. Paul Hofmann
Associate VP (International Programs and Global Engagement)
California State University, Sacramento

Dr. Jennifer Helzer
Director – International Education
California State University, Stanislaus

Dr. Seema Sehrawat
Associate Professor and International Officer
California State University, Chico

The university officials addressed the students on a variety of topics that were important and relevant to the latter. They also took their questions and generally dwelt on the challenges they were likely to face as graduate students in the US. They spoke with students on resource management, coping with academic pressures, on-campus employment opportunities, and safety-related issues. 

CSU-Visit-Oaks-AcademyDr. Ray Wallace dwelt on three topics: employment opportunities in the US after MS, the dynamic of the H1B immigration regulations, and what he called the “Trump effect.”

Dr. Wallace expressed the view that employment opportunities in the US after MS, particularly in the IT sector were “spectacular”.  He revealed that companies were hiring university graduates “aggressively” and that job opportunities in the US at present were “strong”. Dr. Wallace predicted that economic growth during the next couple of years “will stay positive”.

Dwelling on the dynamic of the H1B immigration regulations, Dr. Wallace was of the opinion that the Trump Administration did not have problems with overseas students coming to US universities, and added that it had issues with contracting and consulting companies like Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services, etc., which he pointed out had historically netted a large percentage of H1B visas from the quota allocated to Indians.

Seeking to allay the fears of students in general, Dr. Wallace assured them that change comes slowly with regard to regulations in the US and that change will be positive for university graduates. These changes will only present university graduates with more job opportunities, higher salaries, and less resistance in the immigration context.

Referring to what he called the “Trump effect”, Dr. Wallace shrugged off rhetoric of the US President during his election campaign and stated that he was a different man when he interacted with IT majors in the US. Dr. Wallace quipped, “Trump doesn’t speak like that to Bill Gates or people from other major IT companies like Apple,” and added that as a businessman himself, Trump understood and seemed to be sympathetic to the pleas of heads of IT companies for flexibility in immigration-related regulations as they needed to hire people from abroad. Therefore, Dr. Wallace said that change will only be positive for higher education, especially for students with master’s and PhD degrees in the STEM category.

Dr. Paul Hoffman pointed out that there was a wide range of on-campus jobs up for grabs for graduate students who chose to take up a job during their second or third semester. These included academic and non-academic job opportunities, he added. Dr. Hoffman said taking up an academic job on campus could lead to internship opportunities which receive academic credit for off-campus work experience.

On graduation, Dr. Hoffman revealed, one could transition to a period of practical training for 12 months. He stressed that STEM-major students could avail of an additional 24 months of off-campus employment, which would mean 36 months of practical exposure and experience for them. Dr. Hoffman stressed that students could thus make the most of the inherent privileges that would accrue to them by virtue of their H1B visas. He also disclosed that, often, such students are sponsored by their companies for an H1B visa, later, which allows them to continue working in the USA after this initial three-year period.

Dr. Seema Sehrawat spoke on the American education system. She pointed out that in the US students got a lot of practical knowledge. She said whenever she spoke with students of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and even MBA, all of them talked about how they greatly valued the practical basis of the education system in the US. Dr. Sehrawat did sound a note of caution on how this could pose a challenge initially to Indian students who are more accustomed to theory-oriented studies in India.

She pointed out that American professors were generally very dedicated and always there for their students. Referring to the current political climate, Dr. Sehrawat advised students not to go by heresay or exaggerated media reportage. She urged them to focus on their future and think of what the American system had to offer to them. Speaking of California, she emphasised that California was “quite safe” and added that it was a “melting pot” that welcomed diversity.

Addressing-StudentsAgainst the backdrop of attacks on Indians in the US, the experts pointed out that Indians staying in the US should be well aware of their surroundings and make the correct decision regarding matters such as whether or not stay out late at night. Untoward incidents occur usually late at night after partying. Therefore, it is advisable not to put oneself in such vulnerable positions.

University campuses and its surroundings, they stressed, are safe and every campus has a highly organised and professional police department. Every university is particular about student safety and makes it its top priority, they pointed out. The American people, they specially emphasized, are very supportive of cultural diversity. Sensational media reports usually refer to stray incidents in some trouble spots of the US such as the “Midwest” and some of the southern parts of the country.

Stressing security and safety, Dr. Sehrawat, speaking from her personal experience as an expatriate Indian, opined that American people in general were kind hearted and welcoming, and that one could easily make friends with them.

The visiting delegation of California State University officials spent a couple of hours interacting with students at Dilip Oak’s Academy. They gave students their calling cards and encouraged them to meet them when they joined their colleges.