The Ultimate Guide to Getting an Internship During Your US Master’s Program: CPT, Legalities, Tips & More

Getting an Internship during your USA Master's Program

Are you a student pursuing a Master’s degree in the USA? Are you eager to gain practical experience and boost your career prospects with an internship? Look no further! Here’s everything you need to know about securing an internship during your USA Master’s program!

Understanding CPT (Curriculum Practical Training)

If you’re enrolled in a Master’s program, you’re eligible for CPT, which allows you to work in a position related to your field of study. To qualify, you need to have a valid F-1 immigration status for at least two full-time semesters (equivalent to one academic year). CPT lets you work in a job related to your field of study for up to 364 days.

Why Go for Internships?

Internships aren’t just about making coffee runs, and they offer much more than just workplace experience – they provide invaluable insights into American work culture and help you build a strong foundation for your future career. Typically lasting 10 to 12 weeks during summer breaks (generally from 15th May to 15th August), internships offer opportunities to apply classroom learning to real-world scenarios. Some universities even allow extensions for up to 20 weeks (i.e., for the entire third semester), providing extended hands-on experience. In very rare cases, students can do an Internships during the USA Master’s Program for the full term of 364 days.

The Legal Stuff

Before you jump into an internship, it’s essential to understand the legal requirements. To be eligible for an internship, you must obtain CPT work authorization, which allows off-campus employment for international students (F-1 visa holders) pursuing study programs in the USA and wanting to gain experience in their fields of study. Keep in mind that CPT is not available once you’ve completed your degree program.

Still studying for your GRE? Explore our numerous blogs on GRE Quantitative Reasoning and GRE Verbal Reasoning.

How to Secure an Internship during your USA Master’s Program?

Here are some simple yet effective tips to help you land your dream internship:

Polish Your Resume:

  • Outline your major responsibilities within your previous professional work experience. Include action words (such as facilitated, led, managed, maintained, operated, recommended, etc.) that highlight your skills.
  • List relevant courses or projects you have worked on.
  • List your extracurricular activities or volunteer experience.
  • Keep the formatting simple and clean.

Tap into Your University’s Resources:

Every university has a career center or an internship coordinator for co-op and internship programs. Approach them to apply to the positions that interest you. Generally, every university also has a career center website showing internship opportunities in various corporations. Students are advised to visit this website regularly for updated listings and resources.

Explore Online Platforms:

Use job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, and Glassdoor to search for internships in your field of interest. Create profiles and set up job alerts to stay informed about new opportunities. You can also use online forums like Glassdoor to look at the interview questions asked in companies that interest you.

Network, Network, Network:

  • Request Referrals within Your Network: Connect with individuals in your network within the US and inquire if they are acquainted with employees at companies you are interested in. Internal referrals from existing employees can significantly increase the likelihood of your resume being considered for an interview.
  • Career Fairs: Universities typically host career fairs each semester, providing an excellent opportunity to engage with potential employers and alumni. These events offer insights into industry hiring trends, facilitate networking, and present internship prospects.
  • Information Sessions and Tech Talks: Universities often arrange information sessions and tech talks featuring various companies, especially during career fairs. These sessions allow current employees, often university alumni, to share insights about their companies and potential opportunities. Prepare a targeted resume to distribute and ask insightful questions beyond what’s available on the company’s website.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – take action now! Update your resume, reach out to your network, and start exploring internship options today. Whether you are aiming for a summer internship during your USA Master’s Program or seeking opportunities during the academic year, now is the time to kickstart your career journey.

As India’s leading Study Abroad Consultant, Dilip Oak’s Academy offers a comprehensive suite of admission counseling services that can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. We also offer classroom and online coaching for GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS, as well as GRE Self Prep. To explore our services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-20-67444222.

The Ultimate Master’s Program Application Guide: Expert Tips for Spring 2025

Spring 2025

Missed the Fall 2024 application deadlines? Not sure what to do next? You’re in the right place! While Fall semester applications are more common, Spring 2025 semester admissions are equally feasible and offer ample opportunities, and we’re here to guide you through the application process. Let’s break it down step by step.

Why Apply for Spring 2025?

Opting for the Spring semester doesn’t just offer flexibility; it unlocks doors to a range of academic opportunities. Numerous universities offer admissions for both Fall and Spring semesters, allowing students to select the timeline that perfectly fits their needs. Choosing Spring 2025 isn’t just about avoiding a year-long wait due to a missed Fall deadline; it’s about seizing the chance to align your academic aspirations with your preferred start date, ensuring a smooth transition into your Master’s program.

Application Timeline

To help you navigate the application process smoothly, let’s break down the timeline:

Pre-requisite Tests: February-June 2024

Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to complete the necessary tests:

GRE and TOEFL/IELTS:

Aim to complete these exams by June 30, 2024. You can explore the comprehensive study options at Dilip Oak’s Academy here: GRE Classroom Coaching, TOEFL Classroom Coaching, and IELTS Classroom Coaching.

Gather Necessary Documents: June-July 2024

Assemble the required documents for your applications:

Statement of Purpose (SOP):

The SOP is a crucial document that offers insight into not only your reasons for choosing the course and university, but also your personality, field experience, and long-term goals. It should be concise, compelling, grammatically correct, and technically sound, spanning approximately 500 to 800 words.

Transcripts:

Obtain official transcripts from your previous institutions. Apply for transcripts well in advance, as some colleges or universities may require more time to process them.

Recommendation Letters:

Recommendation letters are critical documents that vouch for your qualities, background, and achievements as a candidate for the master’s programs. Virtually every university requires applicants to submit three recommendation letters. Choose your recommenders (college professors, project guides, or employers) carefully as these letters are meant to provide a comprehensive view of your suitability for the academic program.

Selection of Universities for Final Application: July-September 2024

Once you’ve completed your tests, it’s time to research and shortlist universities. Consider the following factors:

Specializations:

Not every university provides all specializations. To identify the right fit, explore each university’s course structure, programs, and research areas of professors, aligning them with your academic interests and career goals.

GRE Score:

Usually, universities don’t specify the minimum required score for applications. The score needed varies based on the university’s rank and reputation, information that’s often not available on their website. To gauge the score required, you can refer to the database of previous students admitted to these universities. Dilip Oak’s Academy maintains an extensive database of over 32,000 students who enrolled in various American universities since 1996, including those universities that offer a GRE waiver post COVID. Thus, our extensive database can help you gauge the scores accepted by various institutions.

TOEFL/IELTS Score:

Students must achieve the minimum qualifying score set by the university. Typically, most universities require a TOEFL score of 80, but some may ask for a higher score, up to 100. Similarly, for IELTS, a band score of 6.5 is commonly required, although some universities may seek a higher band, up to 7.5.

Academic Record:

Your academic record from your bachelor’s degree plays an important role in the application process. A strong year-wise GPA is necessary for admission to reputable universities. It’s advisable for students to avoid backlogs or year gaps.

Co-curricular Activities:

Projects, internships, paper presentations, publications, and seminar participations will strengthen your profile, increasing your chances of acceptance into better universities.

Budget:

Tuition fees and living expenses vary among universities, with state universities generally being more affordable than private ones. Students should carefully consider their financial situation when selecting universities. Additionally, students can explore education loans offered by various financial institutions to help cover costs.

Sending applications to universities: July-September 2024

Select 6 to 8 Universities:

Based on the abovementioned criteria, narrow down your choices to 6 to 8 universities for your final applications.

Complete Online Applications:

Make sure to finish the online application process before the university’s specified deadlines. Some institutions may require additional documents via courier alongside the online submission.

Forward Test Scores:

Request ETS to send your GRE and TOEFL scores to the selected universities (scores typically take a minimum of 2 weeks to arrive). The additional score reporting fee for GRE is $27 and TOEFL is $25.

After Sending Applications: Await Decisions and Prepare for Visa

Admission Decisions:

Anticipate admission decisions around September/October 2024. Once you receive an offer, promptly accept it. You’re allowed to accept multiple admissions before finalizing your choice for visa application.

Obtain I-20:

Upon acceptance, fulfill the necessary documentation requirements. The university will then issue you the I-20, a crucial immigration document for obtaining a visa.

Prepare for Visa:

Verify the accuracy of the information on the I-20 and gather the required financial documentation to apply for your visa.

Visa Application Process:

Schedule a visa interview date upon receiving your I-20. You can apply for an F-1 visa (student visa) within 360 days from the course commencement date mentioned on the I-20 form. Once you secure the visa date, proceed with the interview and complete the remaining formalities leading up to your departure.

Ready to dive into your Master’s journey for Spring 2025? Step up your game by gearing up for your GRE and TOEFL/IELTS exams with us! Already aced those exams? Reach out today to kick start your application process with confidence!

As India’s leading Study Abroad Consultant, Dilip Oak’s Academy offers a comprehensive suite of admission counseling services that can guide you through the entire process from Shortlisting Universities to Visa Counseling. With our expertise, we have successfully sent 32,000 students to various prestigious American universities like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon. We also offer classroom and online coaching for GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS, as well as GRE Self Prep. To explore our services, book a free consultation or call us at 91-20-67444222.

Exploring the Benefits of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Visa Holders

Curricular Practical Training or CPT is a type of work authorization that permits students holding F1 visa to work off-campus in a position directly related to their major or program of study. CPT allows students to engage in internships, cooperative education programs, or other work experiences that are an integral part of their curriculum. CPT can be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, and may take place during the academic year or summer breaks. In this blog, we will discuss the details of CPT, and benefits for F1 visa holders.

Consulting with the designated school official (DSO) and following the necessary procedures will help students maximize the advantages of CPT while maintaining their legal status as international students.

Duration of CPT

The duration of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) can vary depending on the program and the academic institution’s guidelines. Generally, CPT can be undertaken on either a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time CPT allows students to work for more than 20 hours every week during official university breaks or vacation periods, while part-time CPT limits students to working not more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. The total duration of CPT typically should not exceed 12 months. However, it is important to note that engaging in full-time CPT for more than 12 month can make students ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is another work authorization available to F-1 visa holders after completing their academic program.

Eligibility for CPT

You must have been a lawful full-time student in the United States for one academic year (i.e., two full terms) to qualify for CPT unless your academic program mandates immediate participation for all students. Maintain a valid F-1 visa and a medical coverage.

Advantages of Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

  • Real-World Experience and skill development: CPT provides students with the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical work environment. It allows them to gain hands-on experience, develop practical skills, and understand how concepts learned in the classroom are implemented in real-world scenarios. CPT offers an environment for students to develop and refine a wide range of skills, including communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. These transferable skills are in high demand by employers across various industries.
  • Career Exploration and Development: Engaging in CPT enables students to explore several career paths and industries. It helps them gain insights into their field of study, identify their strengths and interests, and make informed decisions about their future career goals.
  • Financial Support: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) offers F-1 visa holders in the US the advantage of financial support through paid opportunities. By participating in CPT, students can earn income that helps cover their education and living expenses. This financial support reduces the burden of tuition fees, accommodation costs, and everyday expenses. Moreover, it promotes independence and self-sufficiency by allowing students to rely less on external funding sources. The financial stability gained through CPT enables students to focus on their academic pursuits, gain relevant work experience, and fully immerse themselves in the international experience. By adhering to regulations and guidelines, students can benefit from the financial advantages of CPT while maintaining their F-1 visa status.
  • Networking Opportunities: CPT allows students to build professional networks and establish connections within their industry of interest. Through interactions with colleagues, supervisors, and professionals, students can expand their professional contacts, seek mentorship, and potentially secure future job opportunities.
  • Enhanced Employability and Resume Enhancement: Practical work experience gained through CPT can significantly enhance a student’s employability. Employers often value candidates with relevant industry experience, and CPT provides an avenue for students to demonstrate their skills, work ethic, and ability to contribute to the workplace. Having CPT experience can give students a competitive edge in the job market. Including CPT experience on a resume showcases a student’s practical experience and demonstrates their commitment to professional growth. It can make their resume stand out and differentiate them from other job applicants.
  • Cultural and Global Exposure: For international students, CPT provides an opportunity to immerse themselves in the cultural and professional environment of their host country. It exposes them to diverse perspectives, work practices, and cultural norms, contributing to their personal and professional growth.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, We also provide detailed guidance on these processes under our Admission Counseling Services, including a selection of universities, documentation process and visa counseling, and mock visa interviews. In addition, as India’s leading Study Abroad Consultants, we have helped more than 30,000 students to secure their dream admits for various universities in America including MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and other top-ranked universities.

We also offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and UK.  To enroll, call us on 91-020-67444222, 91-8007878495

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program for International Students in the USA.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a program that allows international students who have completed their degrees in the United States to work in the country for a certain period of time. The duration of the OPT program can vary depending on various factors such as the type of degree, the field of study, and any extensions that may be available. It enables oversees students to work in USA without obtaining H1B visa.

Benefits of OPT for International Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an attractive option for overseas students coming to the USA for higher education:

Gain work experience: OPT allows international students to gain practical work experience in their field of study. This experience can help them stand out when applying for jobs after completing their studies.

Extend stay in the USA: OPT allows international students to stay in the USA for an additional 12 to 36 months after completing their degree program, depending on their field of study. This can provide an opportunity to gain work experience, and explore different career paths.

Network and make connections: While working on OPT, international students can network with professionals in their field, which can lead to job offers and career opportunities in the future.

Financial stability: OPT allows international students to earn money and become financially stable, which can be helpful in paying for their education loan.

Bridge to H-1B visa: OPT can serve as a bridge to the H-1B visa, which is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. OPT can provide international students with the necessary work experience to qualify for an H-1B visa.

Duration of OPT

The standard OPT program allows eligible students to work in the United States for up to 12 months. However, students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields, are eligible for a 24-month extension of their OPT period.

It’s important to note that the total duration of OPT, including any extensions, cannot exceed 36 months.

It’s also important to understand that the OPT clock starts ticking the day after a student’s program end date, and any time spent unemployed during the OPT period will count against the total duration. This means that it’s important for students to secure employment as soon as possible after their program end date, and to report any changes in employment or address to their Designated School Official (DSO) within 10 days of the change.

During their OPT period, international students can request that their employer sponsor them for an H1B visa, which grants them the ability to work in the United States for up to 6 (3+3) years. The US government allocates a total of 65,000 H1B visas every year, with an additional 20,000 visas reserved specifically for STEM students. Applications for H1B visas are accepted on April 1st of every year, with approximately 250,000 applicants competing for these limited slots, resulting in a lottery system to determine visa recipients. If a STEM student is not selected for a visa in the initial round, they can continue working under OPT and apply again the following year, providing them with up to three chances to secure a work permit during their OPT period.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, We also provide detailed guidance on these processes under our Admission Counseling Services, including a selection of universities, documentation process and visa counseling, and mock visa interviews. In addition, as India’s leading Study Abroad Consultants, we have helped more than 30,000 students to secure their dream admits for various universities in America including MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and other top-ranked universities.

We also offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and UK.  To enroll, call us on 91-020-67444222, 91-8007878495.

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.

Why 2019 is a Good Time to Pursue an MS in the USA – Part 2

Following the positive response we received on our last blog post “Why 2019 is a Good Time to Pursue an MS in the USA – Part 1”; here are some other key benefits of applying for an MS from a US University this year.

Blog Part 2

Due to needless panic following the election of President Trump, there has been a drop in the number of students joining US universities. The reality is that the job situation is actually improving for students completing their MS from the US. In fact, the decline in number of applicants makes it easier for students with even lower GRE scores and average academics to get into good universities. Financial assistance too has become easier to secure! Read on for an in-depth understanding of the current advantages of applying to the US.

Certainty of Admission to Reputed Universities
Since the USA is a larger country, it boasts of a large number of reputed universities all across the country. Thus, American universities can absorb a greater number of students into Masters Programs as compared to other countries.

Further, the number of students applying to the US for post-graduate degrees has been declining. As a result, more seats are available since the competition is less cut-throat right now.

Financial Assistance during MS
Due to lesser students enrolling for programs, there are more campus jobs available – so it’s now easier to get one. Getting a campus job can take care of the living cost for both years. Apart from this, chances of getting Teaching Assistantship, Research Assistantship and Graduate Assistantship in the first or second semester itself are much higher as compared to earlier.

Jobs and Visa after Graduation
Contrary to the rumors floating around, job opportunities after MS in the USA are still available. What matters is your networking and the internships secured by you during your graduate degree. Students from Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields have 3 years to work on Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allows students with MS degrees to work in the USA without an H1B visa. During these 3 years, you get 3 chances to apply for the H1B visa.

An interesting fact is that for H1B applicants who have completed their MS in the US and who are being sponsored by an American company, the rejection rate is just 1%. Hence, there is a greater certainty of obtaining the H1B visa.
We advise all study abroad candidates to take into consideration all these factors when deciding where to pursue an MS. In case you missed our previous article on why you should apply for an MS in the US in 2019, click here – Why 2019 is a Good Time to Pursue an MS in USA

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.

American Dream – Bringing it to Reality (Part III)

An overwhelming majority of Indian students who travel to the US for higher education belong to the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) category. For the annual H1B quota of 20,000 visas reserved for this category, about 30,000 applications are usually received. On the other hand, against 65,000 H1B visas allocated for non-STEM applicants, three to four times that number apply.

Therefore, an applicant for an H1B visa from the STEM category invariably stands a much better chance. That is why several students from the non-STEM category, even if they find a job in the US after graduating, have to leave for their country of origin as they fail to acquire an H1B visa. Another factor that works in favour of STEM students is that their OPT (Optional Practical Training) is valid for 36 months, which entitles them to three attempts at seeking the coveted H1B visa.

During those three critical years, they get paid in US Dollars by their employers and recover the cost of their education. That is why we have advised students belonging to the non-STEM category, and their parents, to carefully consider these possibilities before investing in higher education in the US. Most STEM students find good jobs in the US, and statistically speaking, only about 10 percent return to India.

There are, of course, several compelling reasons why students prefer to stay on in the US. They get accustomed to a much more comfortable lifestyle, cleaner surroundings, a pollution-free environment, honest dealings, a high living standard, reliable security, and a good income, to name a few of them. Moreover, genuine opportunities for top-quality education and lucrative careers in research are also attractions that most Indian students cannot resist.  Therefore, their reluctance to return home is perfectly understandable.

Personally, I am of the considered opinion that this cannot be called “brain drain” at all.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that as brains are in such excessive numbers in India, there is nothing wrong with looking at them as potential exports. One’s ‘janma bhoomi’ and ‘karma bhoomi’ need not be one and the same. I believe there is no logical reason why one’s motherland and the land where he lives and works should be identical. People ought to be free to exercise their fundamental human right that entitles them to seek an environment they consider conducive to the realisation of their long-cherished dream.

Perhaps it is pertinent to point out here that, generally, Indian students who live in the US end up remitting some of their earnings to their next of kin back home. Such routine remittances add to the foreign exchange reserves of India. Besides, non-resident Indians also share with their relatives and friends back home new ideas thereby sowing the seeds of new enterprises.  Some such NRIs have founded technology-driven companies in their home country which have generated revenue and created new well-paid jobs. Therefore, I see it as a win-win situation.

OPT Period Extension and H1B Visa

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.

Advantages of OPT Extension:

Since H1B VISA petitions are accepted only once a year i.e. 1st April, if the petition is rejected, the applicant has to wait for a further period of one year, i.e., till next April to be able to apply again. In case, a student has an OPT period of only one year, his OPT period lapses before the next April. Hence, he doesn’t get a second chance to apply for H1B visa and has no option but to return to his home country. But students under STEM category will now get an OPT period of 36 Months (Regular 12 months + 24 months extension). In other words, such students will get two more chances for applying for H1B visa if their first petition is rejected. For example, if a student applies for H1B visa on 1st April 2016 but does not get selected in the lottery of 2016, he would still be able to apply for H1B visa again on 1st April 2017 and once again on 1st April 2018.

24-Month STEM OPT Extension

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.

DHS is now amending its rule regarding OPT under STEM category to extend the OPT period to 24 months. This 24-month extension effectively replaces the 17-month OPT extension previously available to certain STEM students. In short, a student can now work in America for up to 36 months after completing degree even if he doesn’t qualify for H1B visa during that period. This rule will be effective from May 10th 2016.

The rule also makes F1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and another STEM degree at a higher education level eligible for one additional 24 months STEM OPT extension. In other words, a student can get 36 months OPT after undergraduate education (BS) and also after completing a graduate degree (MS) from STEM category.

The rule also permits an F1 student completing a non-STEM graduate degree to use a prior eligible STEM degree from a US institution of higher education as the basis to apply for a STEM OPT extension. For e.g. if a student has completed MS in STEM category and now completes MBA which is a non-STEM degree is also eligible for the 36 months OPT extension.

To improve the integrity of the STEM OPT extension, the rule limits eligibility only to students with degrees from schools accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education.

Keep yourself updated on our next blog on E-Verify requirements and Cap-Gap extension.

‘MS in US’: Eligibility, Costs, Job Prospects

M.S. in U.S.

When you are thinking of getting a Master’s or doctoral degree in America, some of the top questions on your mind would be:

• What are the academic requirements in order to be able to apply?

• What are the costs of getting a degree in the US?

• What are the job prospects?

Here’s a quick look at the answers to those questions.

 

What is the eligibility for applying for a Master’s course in America?

The basic eligibility requirement is 16 years of formal education (12 + 4), the last 4 from an accredited university. So, students who have bachelor’s degrees in engineering (whether they joined engineering courses directly after the 12th Std. or after a diploma course) can directly apply for American Master’s courses. However, students who have completed a three-year degree (e.g. B.Sc.) should ideally complete their Master’s degrees (e.g. M.Sc.) in India and then apply.

Note: External degrees and degrees from open universities that are not accredited may not accepted by American universities.

 

What is the cost of education in America?

The cost of education in America varies from Rs. 12,00,000 to Rs. 30,00,000 depending on:

• the type of university (private or government-aided)

• its rank

• its geographical location

Apart from tuition fees you also have to bear the costs of:

• insurance

• living (food + housing)

• transportation.

There are many ways to reduce these financial burdens however. Many students manage to get some kind of financial assistance in the form of:

• research and teaching assistantships

• tuition waivers

• on-campus jobs etc.

Such kinds of financial assistance take care of a large part of the expenses incurred when studying in America.

 

What are the job prospects after completing a Master’s degree course in America?

• After completing your course you are allowed to undertake Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 12 months. OPT may be extended for another 17 months if you fall under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) category

• Ample job opportunities exist in the fields of engineering and computer science (much tech talent in America is Indian and many Indians hold top positions the field – as is evident from the case of Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft).

Note:

• Professors’ recommendations carry a lot of weight. To get a job you must get excellent references from professors who taught you during your master’s course.

• When you are working in America, your company may apply for H1-B visa (work permit) on your behalf. After this you can apply for a green card.

So, get ready to get your MS in US!