Friday, July 13, 2007

The Visa Issue

Recently I've been getting a lot of emails/calls from applicants and my friends who are admits at other schools. So I thought it best to summarize what I know here. Many many thanks to my dear friend Simba for talking to me extensively on this topic. Thanks S, for clearing the air on the many doubts I had! She's also written on this topic, suggest you read that too.

So what exactly is the visa issue?

H1B (US Work visa) applications are accepted from Apr 1. This year the number of applications exceeded double the no of visas on offer (65,000) by the 2nd of Apr, so the window was closed 2nd Apr itself. And as per a new system, who'd get the visa and who wouldn't, was decided by a computer lottery as against the first come first served system in place earlier.

Apart from these 65K visas, there's an additional 20K visas on offer in the Graduate category. Only those who have a master's degree from a US univ, can apply in this category. But this year, this too filled in by 30-Apr! Not sure, but iirc, last year the graduate category cap was hit only in Jul.

Here comes the problem: Most MBA students graduate from their programs only in May. So they wouldnt be able to apply for a vias in the year they graduate. Lets say XYZ graduates in May 2007. She would be able to apply for the work permit only in the next cycle of April 2008. Once she's graduated, she's no longer a student. So technically, she's out of status. She can be out of status only for 2 months. So by July, she'd have to either have a valid work permit or move into OPT or leave US.

OPT stands for Optional Practical Training, which extends uptil one year. It is different from CPT - Curriculum Practical Training, the category under which she'd have done internship. She doesn't need a job or an employer or a sponsor to invoke the OPT. So lets say she invokes OPT in Jul 2007, then she can legally stay in the US until Jul 2008. Lets assume her employer files for visa in April 2008 AND she's lucky (remember the lottery system?) enough to get it. Even then, she would get her visa stamped only by Oct 2008. So what happens between July 2008 and Oct 2008? Yup, she'd be out of status once agin! So she'll have to leave the country for the period that exceeds 2 months. And oh yes, when you are out of status, even though you can stay in the US, you cant work!

Because of all these hassles involved, some employers might not be very enthusiastic about hiring internation students. I guess we'd know the true picture only after the next batch also graduates.

There are some workarounds available for this:
1. US aint the only place, look at other geographic regions as well! UK is making the best out of this confusion in US by welcoming all graduates of the top 50 international BSchools. Getting a 1 yr HSMP (UK's work permit) is fairly easy from what I hear, and apparently it can be easily extended too.
2. Take more credits than necessary each term, and try to graduate by Dec - All schools might not offer this option.
3. If you are socially inclined, this could be a golden chance for that required push! Nonprofits and education orgs are not included in this visa cap. But at the same time, not too many hire international candiates either (my perception).

Class of 2007 bore the brunt of this new situation. It was highly unfair to them! Especially to be left like this with almost no forewarning. Some employers have been very understanding though. They are either transferring their employees to an overseas location during these "out of status" periods or giving them unpaid leave.

Although I accept that the situation will only get worse in future, I strongly believe forewarned is forearmed. Atleast we guys, class of 2009, are aware of the problems that can crop up. And we can start working towards a solution right from the first term. Also, the US congress is mulling over several options to resolve this problem - but there's no guarantee that any of them will see the light of the day.

BSchools were instumental in creating that new Graduate Category of 20K visas. So have faith. Efforts are already underway to do somethign abt this. There's already alliance of the business schools. This alliance had hosted some info on Tuck's website. But I am unable to find that link right now. If anyone has it, please pass it on.

Hope that clears some air. Let me know if have any queries, I'll answer them to the best of my efforts, else will get the reqd info from people who are more knowledgeable.

And ofcourse, if I've stated something wrong, please let me know ASAP so I can correct it.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blue Devils Rock!

And so I return to the blog-world, after several months! As you prolly made out from the title of this post, I decided to go ahead with Duke, and sent in my regret note to Darden.

I am done with my visa formalities. Now stuck with the tonnes of material that Duke so kindly sent us, to be finished before reaching the school. And I am finding it maha tough to move my ass in gear to even open those CDs. They sent us an accounting and math CD each. Apart from this, there's Business Computer course assignments that we have the "option" of finishing before reaching school. Then there's the headache of getting my resume in shape, for which too, Duke sent a 30+ page booklet outlining how it should be! And ofcourse there are tonnes of formalities like Immunization, forex, tickets, transit visas, apartment, laptop, phone, books, suits, formals, knee length shorts (eh?) etc etc etc which also need to be worked out.

Frankly, after all this crap, it feels like if I can handle all this gracefully, surely acads wont be that much of a problem! :)

To give a brief update abt what I've been upto over the last few months: I quit my firm somewhere in Mid march. Moved home and joined an infra consulting firm for a short internship. Got done with that in May end, and since then have been running around getting somethings settled on the family front (NO! I'm nt getting married - one whack on the behind to whoeva asks abt this!). And ofcoz, partying real hard, since I've moved back to the best place on earth - Delhi! Delhi ROX, peepal! :D

Anyway, now, finally, here I am! Done with most of the formalities - need to close out on the shopping front. And ofcourse, start studying :(

Dont know what prompted me to blog today. Been thinking abt it for long. But somehow while chatting with a friend, S, I had this strong urge to blog. Laughed like crazy today, after a long while, while chatting with her. She was telling me about her first thoughts when we met for the first time! :D

Congratulations on all your acceptances, and good luck to those who've started their journey on this road :)

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Darden/Duke : +ve Wharton : -ve

Thats the status of my apps. Got admits from Darden and Duke. Got dinged at W :(

Have been keeping extremely busy - as usual, I have my fingers dipped in 475437534757493 pies at the same time. Not getting the time to post or even read others' blogs. Now that things have settled a bit, this should improve.

Definitely not feeling good about W, but no point crying hoarse about it here. Anyway, gotta decide between Darden and Duke now.

And hearty congratulations to my fellow bloggers who have admits from other top schools :)

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Haas Submitted!

Finally, 2 weeks back, I was able to move my fat ass into action and worked on the Haas app. Dont think the quality of this app was anywhere close to good. Frankly, it sucked! But I still went ahead with the submission.

I am tired of apping. I am tired of having to put off plans with family and friends. I am tired of being so poor as a result of the money spent apps. I am tired of not being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do. I am tired of thinking of apps all day long. I am tired...

And sadly that reflected in my app. :( And to top that, I had to write four new 250 word essays!!! I went ahead with it only because I loved the school so much when I visited them. And I love the west coast.

Haas mailed a couple days back: They will begin reviewing the app only in Jan end!!!! Why o Why did you ask us to submit 1.5 months earlier then??? And interview invites will come in Feb through March.

Wanted to target a school or two more in R2. But I am exhausted! Completely spent! So Haas was the last one. :)

Feeling very random right now - guess that justifies the random lines of crap I just wrote! :)

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Friday, November 17, 2006

GMAT is the sole basis for admission decision

Or so a recent comment on my post 720 and retake GMAT would have me believe.

Here it is:
"You have to remember that you are competing with literally
thousands of Indian Male IT Professionals.

You are in this bucket (i.e., Another Indian Male IT Professional) and are competing with the the other Indian Male IT Professionals applying.

Hence, you have to be at least as good as, if not better than the other thousand Indian Male IT Professionals applying to MBA schools.

Take a look at ths blog of another
Indian Male IT Professional applicant:

His scores are top:

GMAT: 750 (Q50 V41)
TOEFL: 300/300

This is type of person you are competing with.

If you do not have scores like this, the AdComs are going to look at the other people in your bucket and ask why your scores are not the same, if not better."


I am responding to that comment here because a lot of applicants, especially Indians (because of our traditional stress on acads), still seem unable to understand that a lot goes into an app, and GMAT is but a part of it.

I do understand that I come from, arguably, the most competent pool of applicants : Indian IT Male. BUT! Admission decisions are NOT based on GMAT alone! There are several other factors that collectively determine it: Essays, Recos, Extra Currics, Comm Service, interview, communication skills, interpersonal skills, GMAT & acads etc etc etc. In my personal opinion, of all these, essays are probably the single largest factor that sway decisions one way or another.

Most importantly, it is how you distinguish yourself. it is of prime importance that you choose the right examples and highlight the right qualities. I think this was where I went wrong last yr. I was competitive at most schools I applied to last yr. But I didnt invest as much time doing a deep-dive into my experiences as I should have. I feel its better to spend more time doing that, than fretting over a "low" score.

But, all else being more or less same, the adcom would definitely prefer an applicant with higher GMAT and acads, as s/he is more likely to perform well in class. And thats only fair. Thats why its important to bring out the different and interesting aspects of your work and personal life.

Inspite of having been dinged from my top choice schools last yr; inspite of just getting a ding from a top choice school this yr, I still say GMAT is not the reason, or at least not the only reason for the reject. I have utmost faith in the admissions process. Even if I get dinged at all the schools, I will still not accuse the schools of rejecting my app due to GMAT. If at all thats the reason given, it just means I didnt do a good job of highlighting the more important facts of my app, forcing them to look at my GMAT to distinguish me from others. Would urge others also to not fall into this trap of thinking that GMAT is the be all and end all of this process.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ding from Columbia

Really dont know where I went wrong. My interview went well, my Columbia app was good...

In a state of shock to think analyze anything right now...


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

YAYYYYYYY!!!! W wants me to interview! :D

Got the interview invite from Wharton a couple hrs ago! :D

Over the last couple days, also got interview invites from Darden and Ross.

Good luck to my fellow applicants! Dont fret over it - today, I'd decided to stop checking my email every 2 mins and dint even visit the s2s. I guess I beat Uncle Murphy with this new found attitude!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Checking my spam

folder more often than the inbox, as the inbox has no new mails, but the spam folder gets filled in very fast! And all this just for the W invite that has eluded me so far :( I know I know, its very important to be +ve etc etc etc. But with the last date a mere 3 days away, I am finding it more and more difficult. :(

W adcom's latest blog post on interviews helped a bit, but...

To borrow a line from BSchoolDiva's latest post: In the words of R. Kelly “Somebody pray for me”.

Edited to add: Its nearly 3:30 AM for me now, that makes it 5PM EST. So Monday's gone as well... Only Tues/Wed/Thurs left... :sigh: Off to sleep now. All this waiting will be the end of me someday :sigh:


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No Wharton interview invite yet :(

Been off internet, apping and blogging since I turned in the Ross app. Well mostly. Been socializing big time - met up with all my friends @ home. Came back to this dirty city only a few days ago and generally been chilling, reading, and meeting with my friends here.

But today, I am feeling very restless! There's been no forward movement on my apps since the Columbia interview. I had promised myself that I wont freak out about it this yr, was even able to hold myself together for this long, but now I am getter all jittery :((

Feeling the most scared about W - only 8 more days to go and I am yet to hear from them. :(

Even Darden has been sitting neat and pretty in Pending status since 21-Oct!

Ross - there's still time.

Duke - Got a mail asking me for my preferred location for the alum interview, but they interview everyone, so that doesnt count.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ross Submitted

After much struggle with the professional/personal development essay, endless reviews and many rewritings later, I finally submitted the Ross application.

This was the last of my R1 apps and marks the end of a 4 month long journey. Now begins the waiting game. Looking forward to spending the last couple of days @ home making up for the lost socializing! :)

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