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US Studies: Is your paperwork in order?
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June 26, 2007

You're going to study in America, but how can you make proper preparations before you leave?

Do you have your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee receipt? 

What other documentation will you need when entering the US, and how should you behave at the airport?

Dr Arun Vakil anwered these questions and more during a June 21, 2007 expert chat.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's part one of the transcript: 


Dr Arun Vakil answers, There are many colleges which you need to find from USEFI or the Internet and then identify them based on your preference of budget, weather and course selection. For visa procedures, visit

ferhana asked, i would like to pursue a course in fitness .. i am a graduate ... & what are the job options for a fitness professional .. approx fees for the cource

Dr Arun Vakil answers, Fitness is madness around the world. You will do well anywhere. Search the internet to find universities willing to enroll you for higher studies. And have a ball!

alll asked, hello sir, what should I bring to america?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Your credentials (visa, passport, school-related paperwork). Keep personal effects to the minimum and of course, cash or cheques for your fees

Jatin asked, 
Hello Sir, My maternal uncle is my sponsor for visa. what do I say if the VO asks, why not your dad ?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
You need to show some data of you family's financials, however little they may be. Then, explain that your uncle is helping supplement the funds.

robin asked, Hi, how are you? Sir i want to know that how would i know which is the right university for me to do my MBA from in US, as i have an average academic record, I'm an m com. Talking about the other universities apart from the top ones as im likely not to ge admission in the top ones...

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Try five top ones and try five average ones. You may luckily earn admission at a top school, even if you are an average student. It never hurts to try.

ankit asked, how do i ensure my chances of getting aid in US

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Once you reach the US, study hard for the first semester and get an 'A' grade in all your courses, giving you Grade Point Average of 4.0, or perfect. This will help you get a scholarship from various US sources. There are agencies that give scholarships to foreign students, but you'll have to do the research.

docu asked, In terms of documents. What should I bring aside from F1 student visa?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Your latest marksheets, entrance test scores, SEVIS fee receipt and official letter from the university along with I-20 form. Absolutely do not forget your SEVIS fee receipt, which gives evidence of your entrance into the Visitor tracking programme. 

sk asked, Mr.Vakil for IT professionals which is the best place to like in the US. Please also let me know wheather US or UK is better in terms of Monitory and other benifits???

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
All major metropolitan cities in the US and their surroundings offer IT opportunities in abundance. Nothing is location specific. However, Silicon Valley in California is popular among Indian IT professionals.

Vinoth asked, If $x is the amount quoted in the I-20, what's a good break up of funds that an F1 applicant needs to display in the VISA interview? [Like a minimum of $y of liquid funds, $z of assets (bonds, land, property, etc)]

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Your liquid assets should take care of your first year of studies at least. You should have other funds accessible for remaining years. That is the law, which determines whether or not you get your F1 visa. The Visa Officer does not look at break up or ratios. He looks at liquid assets only.

Jatin asked, Thanks, Im showing my mom's savings as part-sponsor. Will that do ?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Yes. Make sure all the paperwork is clear, and that it indicates her savings.

vidhi asked, Can I do a tourism course in America if I am on M1 vocational visa?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
You can if you find a university offering such a course for a short time. It seems difficult to me.

Nash asked, Can you please tell us more on OPT? we are given generally given 5 year f1 visa nowadays, howz it converted to OPT?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
OPT, Optical Practical Training, is possible after you get your degree (bachelors/masters/doctorate) for one year. VO gives visa for year longer than study length for this purpose.

ssadu asked, sir..i have got an L1 visa but have not utilized it i wannu go to the US for tourism purpose.Will my L1 get cancelled when they give a B1/B2 or both the visas can co-exist.Will it be a probelem getting a B1/B2

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
In some cases, two visas exist. But mostly, the first visa is cancelled without prejudice to avoid confusion for Visa Officers.

Satish asked, Can Please guid us that how much moeny will be needed for a student to get the degree from US university.

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
This depends on tuition fee of the university you select, your personal expenditures and the cost of living in the city where you study. Broad range, including tuition fee, annually could be between $20,000 to $70,000. Of course, a scholarship will lower this markedly.

sive asked, And I've been granted H1 visa. How long will this guarantee me access to the Unietd States? I have a 4
year programme. Can I stay longer?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
On H1, you can stay up to 6 years. The Visa Officer ultimately decides.

sive asked, What's the best tips you can provide regarding travel to the US?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Read as much as you can about America before you start. Well informed is well armed. There are many books and always consult the Internet. Read my book on GATEWAY TO AMERICA which gives the A to Z of all one needs to know while travelling to the US.

Inba asked, Hi Arun, I have completed MSC (soft engg) 5 yrs course, Right now working in a MNC for last one year, I would like specialize on Multimedia - Special effects-Animations - Web Designing, Let me know which course i can pursue, Though now i am in web based projects, But i would like to set my career in those fields !! Help me out, which course / degree to specialize shud i under go for the same ?? also let me the Fees tht would cost for it !!

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Special Effects and Animation are on top these days. However, you should do what you like the best and have aptitude for. If you excel in any field, you will get good opportunities for employment in the US or elsewhere.

ajey asked, my son has got 92 percentile and 700/800 in gmat. 87% agg in class 12,4years working experience in a us consulting coy in india. avg grdauation results.can he hpoe to get admission in mba in Ivy league colleges in us?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
He can certainly get admission in US university but not necessarily in Ivy League group. He could start with at a different university, do well in studies, and transfer to an Ivy League university mid-way. That is the best option for him.

Shoubhik asked, Hiii there mr. arun, I would like to ask you whether the first year courses are really the most that u need to keep in the account.. what abt the 2nd year and why are the b-schools not that keen on finding that figure on ur accounts as well.... is it because they are suree that u cna start earning in the 2 nd yr of the MBA..please let me know sir!

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
You are not supposed to earn while holding student visa status aside from 20 hours a week on campus. If you work elsewhere, it is illegal and if identified, you are subject to deportation from the US.

Vinoth asked, Hello sir, how many days can a person on a F1 visa stay in the US after the graduate program is over?
Dr Arun Vakil answers, 60 days maximum if you don't go in for Optical Practical Training or if you can't secure an H1B visa.

charu asked, what is section case is pending under admisnistrative documents were asked to be shown at the VI,i was just told i seem to be qualified to get teh visa but the need some more infromation.I am going for PhD in genetics and i was also made to fill a questionare asking intricate details of wht i have done and wht research i intend to do there.wht r the cahnces of getting a visa approval in such cases and y in the first place I am under this processing while most of my friends going for similar fields got the approval outright.

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Certain studies sensitive to US economy, politics and health, necessitate that the US government does further background check in Washington DC in Visa Administration department. After clearance is obtained, you'll receive your visa. Genetics may be one of these courses.

Tomorrow: Part II

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