Mumbai: With the Fall 2023 intake for US-bound students set to start in August till December, the US Consulate General in Mumbai is conducting a student visa session for prospective candidates on April 14 to address their queries on the process, which has traditionally been plagued by wait times, rejections, and more.
With the past few years being difficult for students, and professionals in the US owing to the layoffs across the country’s companies, and tech giants, visa sessions will be all the more important to get major concerns and queries addressed.
Criteria to be applicable for new rules on F-1 visa needs clarity
Though recent changes in the F-1 student visa process, which will enable students to obtain an I-20 form up to 365 days before their University programme starts in the US, is a relief, students are still unsure about the intake months the new rules cater to.
“Though the new rule will help us apply for a visa a year before our academic programmes begin, I want to be sure if it’s applicable for students going in the fall intake and not only for ones applying for Summer intake (April-August) as that’s something we are not sure about,” said Nidhi Shetty, who has been accepted in six universities and is considering to pursue Master’s in Industrial Engineering from University at Buffalo.
Wish for an 'American Dream' leads students to US
Though F-1 visas allow work off campus through Optical Practical Training (OPT) after completing their academics, with recent revisions in employment authorisation letting selected categories pursuing STEM or its allied modules opt for an additional 24 months extension of their OPT program, students who are planning to pursue residency in the US have questions concerning their future.
“I would like to have more information on the process behind transitioning my F-1 visa to a dual intent one, which allows one to pursue permanent residence status i.e. a green card while having a non-immigrant visa and the intention to immigrate in the future. More clarification on the key differences between F-1 and J-1 visas would also be helpful,” stated Nikhil John Mathew, who would be pursuing post-graduation in Supply and Logistics from Carroll University in Wisconsin.
City-wise wait time still a matter of concern among students
Students and professionals are not only making a move to different cities but also countries to beat the long wait time which saves time but costs them a lot of money.
Chennai has the lowest wait time for US student visas at 58 days, followed by Mumbai - at 73, Kolkata - at 78, and Delhi - at 74.
“I would like to be in Mumbai during my visa interview rather than go to Pune or another city, this is something I would like to ask US visa officials about,” stated Anusha Shah, a law graduate from Mumbai.
Visa interviews can often prove to be nerve-racking for individuals who could face dejection if their application gets rejected but some success stories can be a lesson for them.
Indian Yale graduate's tips to crack visa interview hurdle
According to Vatsal Nahata, a Yale graduate who is currently working as a research analyst at IMF, there are five key things that students should keep in mind when appearing for their interviews.
“Students should not say that they intend to stay back in the US, should not give scripted answers, should not sound unprepared regarding their course and its career trajectory, and should make the impression that they have enough financial resources to study in the US,” asserted Nahata.
Rising shooting incidents in US can't be ignored
A recent shooting incident in Nashville, the 130th of its kind in the US this year, has put the spotlight on the safety of international students who are fascinated by the country’s opportunities but fear for their lives at the same time.
“We read about mass shootings in the US every week. Many of my friends in the US have installed apps that alert them to such incidents. It does scare me,” added Anusha, who is planning to pursue her Master's in the Columbia School of Journalism or UC Berkeley.
Mumbai Consulate's assurance to students
Hailing US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s ‘foreign policy imperative’, Jessica Doyle, Acting Spokesperson, US Consulate Mumbai, stated that the country is committed to facilitating travel for international students, ‘whose contributions to U.S. campuses and communities are vital for people-to-people ties and the U.S. economy.’
“International student mobility is central to diplomacy, innovation, economic prosperity, and national security. As we approach peak student visa season this summer, we reiterate our commitment to international education, including student mobility to and from the United States,” Doyle told the Free Press Journal.
The US Mission has issued over 125,000 student and exchange visitor visas to Indians in 2022, which has led to India now being the second-largest origin country for international students in the North American country.
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