Relevant advisories for Indian students will be posted on this page. The most recent information will always be found on the Embassy or Consulate General of India's websites.
Student Advisory for F-1 Visa Holders
Embassy of India
30 July 2020
In continuation of advisories issued on 17 June and 9 July 2020, the Embassy of India Student Hub issues the following advisory based on information available on 30 July 2020 for Indian students studying in or enrolling to study in the United States:
The Embassy of India Student Hub is cognizant of challenges being faced by the Indian students in securing visa appointments with the US Embassy/ Consulates in India. It may be noted that due to the current pandemic situation, US Consular Services’ operations in India remain suspended and currently, US Embassy and Consulates across India are processing visa applications only for emergency cases (i.e. death, funeral, medical treatment, etc). The Embassy of India in Washington DC has already taken up this matter with the concerned U.S. authorities and continues to follow up with them.
For details on impact of COVID-19 pandemic for students on F-1 status, students may refer to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)’s “Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19” issued on 15 July 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf) and “Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020 Based On March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast” issued on 24 July 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/fall2020faq.pdf).
F-1 Indian students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) are again advised to exercise due caution towards offers from third-party consultancies that ask payment for issuing employment letters, certifications, or company placements. F-1 OPT students may refer to U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s information in this regard: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams#job%20placement.
F-1 students on post-completion OPT are also advised to review university guidance as well as official OPT guidelines issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and SEVP, including:
General requirements for post-completion OPT include:
a. OPT “employment” must directly relate to student’s major area of study (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/optDirectlyRelatedGuidance.pdf);
b. OPT employment must be for a specific duration and technically at least 20 hours per week. Please note that “[f]or the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT,” as per 15 July 2020 SEVP FAQs;
c. Student must apply for and an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD card”) before start of any post-completion OPT employment;
d. Student should be able to provide evidence, acquired from employer, to verify that he/she legitimately worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment; and
e. Student can volunteer or can secure an unpaid internship, so long as such “employment” is directly related to his/her major area of study.
Students are further advised to consult their respective university’s Designated School Official (DSO), International Student & Scholar Office (ISSO) and/or concerned faculty for additional guidance on all post-completion OPT matters - including permissible volunteering opportunities and/or internships.
17 June 2020
The Embassy of India Student Hub would like to advise the following to the Indian students with F-1 status, who are pursuing/looking to pursue practical training opportunities, including Curricular Practical Training (CPT), pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), post-completion OPT, and/or the STEM Extension OPT:
We recognize that some Indian students in the United States may be facing challenges in securing and/or retaining practical training opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students are advised to remain in contact with their Designated School Official (DSO) regarding their situation, as DSOs are the best sources of reliable information in this regard.
Students are reminded that they must comply with all provisions of their F-1 visa as required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP), and the U.S. Department of State. This includes complying with their CPT/OPT employment/reporting requirements. In case of any clarifications or questions on these provisions/ and their application, students are advised to consult their DSO.
Students are advised to research the employer and also the position being offered for the CPT/OPT and check with their DSO to ensure that such opportunity is in compliance with the practical training requirements.
SEVP defined guidelines regarding student employment may be referred to here: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/working-in-the-united-states
FAQs and guidance from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement regarding the evolving COVID-19 situation may be referred at: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf
10 April 2019
1. In recent years, instances of “fake” Universities set up by the US law enforcement agencies have come to light. According to the US law enforcement, these Universities are run by undercover law enforcement agents of the US, who pose as owners and employees of the University. The sole objective of such operations is to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration fraud in the US.
2. The most recent examples of such Universities are the University of Northern New Jersey set up in 2013 and of Farmington University established in 2015 by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the Department of Homeland Security of the United States. In both cases, a number of Indian students enrolled into these Universities, paid the requisite tuition fee and were granted F1 visa as well as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) permission.
3. These Indian students, many of whom claimed later that they were caught unawares, were subsequently detained by US law enforcement agencies and subjected to deportation proceedings. They were accused of having violated the US immigration laws and of knowingly remaining enrolled in a “fake” University for the sole purpose of continuing their stay in the United States without the intention of pursuing any academic activity.
4. In order to ensure that Indian students do not fall into such “traps”, it is advised that due diligence be exercised while seeking admission in US Universities. The fact that a University is duly accredited by relevant US authorities such as its inclusion in the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVIS), is not an assurance in itself about the bonafides of a University.
5. Before seeking admission in a University, students are advised to take into account several other factors, some of which are outlined below:
Does the University function from a campus or merely maintains a website and has administrative premises only? If not, such Universities are not to be regarded as a bonafide educational institution and admission into such Universities should be avoided.
Does the University have a faculty and regular instructors/educators? If not, admissions to such Universities should be avoided. It may be noted that such Universities typically employ only administrative staff and their websites have no information in respect of faculty.
Does the University have a proper curriculum, hold regular classes and actively implement academic or educational activity? If not, admissions to such Universities may be avoided. Students admitted to such Universities, even if in possession of regular student visa may be tried for violation of visa norms and subjected to detention and subsequent deportation from the US.
6. This advisory is not exhaustive and intended only to provide general guidance to the students in taking the right decision while seeking admission in US Universities.
Concerns or questions regarding the above advisories should be relayed directly to the appropriate Embassy or Consulate. Always consult the Embassy or Consulate website for the most recent information.