US tech varsities: It’s admission time again!
11, the US government and educational institutions continue to welcome foreign
students, albeit after an extra round of scrutiny. The Immigration and
Naturalisation Service and US consulates across the world have become
overcautious, writes Mohan Babu
This is the time
of the year when students in technical colleges across the country huddle
together to plan for their future. For many, getting the right job or career
break is of paramount importance. For some, higher education in the US is almost
a de rigueur, an extension of one’s academic ambitions. Thousands of students
from India come to the US every year, hoping to get educated in some of the best
universities around. What started as a “brain drain” of the students from elite
institutions in India has become a “routine migration”.
process in most universities in the US starts months in advance, with most of
them making the selection decisions by early spring. Students applying to
universities in the US need to take a slew of standardised tests like GMAT/GRE,
TOEFL etc and are required to get adequate scores from these tests. The scores
and their role in the admission process is highly subjective since the
universities also take into consideration a number of other aspects like
academic history, scholarships, awards, published papers, work experience etc.
If you think December is too early to apply for a Fall course the following
year, think again. It is only after one gets an admission from the university
that one can apply for a visa since a US college, school or university issues
the “Form I-20” required in the visa application process.
The coveted F1
(or M1) visa is perhaps one of the most important documents that one needs to
acquire, generally after an in-person interview at the local embassy or
consulate. June, July and August are the busiest months in most consular
sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that
period. To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise,
students are encouraged to apply for their visas several weeks before they plan
to travel. Students should not apply more than 90 days before the registration
date noted on the I-20. Also, because each student’s personal and academic
situation is different, two students applying for same visa may be asked
different questions and be required to submit different documents.
for a student visa must provide:
- A Form I-20 obtained from a US college, school or university. The form must
also be signed by you and by a school official in the appropriate places.
- A completed nonimmigrant visa application form (OF-156) with photo for each
- A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry
into the United States.
- A receipt for visa processing fee.
should be prepared to provide:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended.
- Scores from standardised tests required by the educational institution such as
the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have
sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of
your intended study.
When a person
enters the United States on a student visa, he will usually be admitted for the
duration of the student status. That means one may stay as long as one is a full
time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while in America.
However, if the student departs the US with an expired visa, she will need to
obtain a new one before being able to return to America and resume studies. A
student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the United States; it must be
done at an Embassy or Consulate abroad. The most accurate and up-to-date
information on visas’ can be found at the US department of state website at
Higher education in the US is an expensive proposition, but in most cases, the
returns on education can be tremendous. It is hard to set a dollar amount, but
the tuition and fees for an MS degree alone could range anywhere between $20,000
upto $80,000. Add to this other living expenses, air tickets etc and the higher
education abroad can be very expensive. Aid or student grants are extremely hard
to come by, especially for foreign students. It is a myth that once a person
lands here, he will be able to land a job and pay the bills. To alleviate this
problem, Indian banks have stepped in by helping students with attractive loans
for higher education.
On landing in the
US, students not only grapple with their course work but also with the change in
culture, lifestyle etc. A tremendous support network in the form of Indian
Student Association (ISA) exists in universities across the country. Volunteers
who offer informal support, advice and networking for newly admitted students
run the associations, generally affiliated with the universities. Many ISAs also
maintain websites with lists of members.
students in India find it convenient to shoot off e-mails to their peers in the
US. A list of ISA’s can also be found online at (http://www.GaramChai.com/indassc.htm).
ISAs also provide opportunities for Indian students to network, socialise and
maintain a semblance of Indianness in a far-away land. This network also has
fringe benefits in the form of help with logistics, finding roommates etc.
Many students in
India may be hesitant to contemplate education in the US, especially after the
incidents of Sept 11th. Since a number of suspected terrorists came here on
student visas, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) and US
consulates across the world have become overcautious while scrutinising
applications. However, scholars with a genuine interest in higher education have
always been welcome. The US government and educational institutions are still
continuing the policy of welcoming foreign students, albeit after an extra round