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Going to U.S.

Advice From Former Scholar:

 

2016 Khorana Scholar, Kanika Jain, has written this blog to share her experience of B1/B2 visa processing:

Just like you, I had also been instructed to apply for B1/B2 visa. I did the same and carried with me all the required documents mentioned on the USA visa site i.e. Khorana offer letter, acceptance letter from the professor, No Objection Certificate from my home institution, recent bank statement and other educational and ID proofs such as driving license on my visa interview date.
During my interview, the consular office asked me for my offer letter and my passport. He asked about the program, the professor and his work, my current position and the project I would have been doing in US. He kept searching in his system during the conversation which, in my opinion, might be about the program and lab and after all the questioning, he stated that this situation is purely applicable to J1 type visa and he could not understand why I have been asked for applying to B1/B2 visa and that he would not been able to provide me this visa category. He handed over me the passport and asked me to apply for J1 visa through emergency portal. HE DIDN’T REJECT MY VISA APPLICATION. I was unaware about the difference between B1/B2 visa and J1 visa category at that time, so I was not able to defend myself at that point.
Next, I read through the documents required to apply for J1 visa and came to know that I will be requiring DS2019 form from UW Madison that would take 3-4 weeks minimum, which wasn’t feasible in short period of time. Thus, I approached one of the US visa consultancy in Delhi and they described me the difference between J1 and B1/B2 visa category. The difference is briefly as follows:
• B1/B2 visa category is applicable for the individual visiting US for meeting relative/friends, for medical purposes on temporary basis and is not being financially supported by USA government in any form.
• J1 visa category belongs to visitors /scholars coming to US on exchange program to participate in workshops, conferences, study tours, professional meetings or to receive training that will improve the visitor’s knowledge of U.S. techniques, methodologies, and expertise; similar to our program.

The only option I had at that time was to apply again for B1/B2 visa with improvised documents that highlight our situation more suitable for B1/B2 visa. I was provided with a detailed offer letter which clearly states that I am not being funded by US government/UW Madison or US faculty in any form. The stipend which I would be receiving would be from Indian government. With that document as my defense, I applied again and handed over this document with highlighted funding statement to consular and luckily he didn’t raised any objection and the B1/B2 VISA was approved on the spot.

U.S. federal regulations stipulate that Students have adequate health insurance cover during their stay in the United States. It is critical that the insurance plan taken by the student meets the minimum insurance coverage requirements of the Host University.  The Medical Insurance cover has to be obtained by the student as per the Host University guidelines. For this we advise the student to seek the guidance of his Host Mentor once the placements are confirmed. IUSSTF would reimburse the amount to the students (up to $500 only) on submission of necessary receipts.

The air-tickets would be booked by the IUSSTF Travel Desk by economy-class and the shortest route (we will ensure to get the student to the airport nearest to his/her Host University). Within the U.S., the student would need to coordinate with his Host lab and/or Winstep Forward to work out the best local transport options. In our experience this hasn’t been a problem in all the years of the Bose Program!

This is the language used when SN Bose and Khorana scholars are contacted to be told they have been selected. Confirmed placements are done only once we have a Mentor confirmation in place for the student.

Students all attend a national orientation meeting in the United States on the same date at the end of May, after this they head to their universities to start their lab work.  In 2018, we are expecting the scholar orientation to be held on May 19 or 20.  Scholars will then travel to their perspective institutions by May 21.

  • Yes.  Each professor is required to help defray the cost of housing for the scholar by $1,000 USD.

US Scholars will be provided with a packing list upon acceptance into the program that previous scholars have contributed to.

No, it is not absolutely necessary. But, having an account makes it easier to cash cheques and it is very convenient to use debit cards to buy food and shop. It can avoid the hassle of managing coins. Almost all places accept cards.

We would recommened waiting until you get your visa to buy your plane ticket. 

There are usually several eating establishments on campus, either cafeterias or restaurants. Vegetarian food is available on campus. There are also multiple grocery stores on and off campus. Many cities also have Indian grocery stores. Many student residence halls usually have a kitchen in which students can prepare their own food, but that is not necessarily the case on all campuses. Please contact us or your student’s host institution to verify more about meal/kitchen availability.

You will be assigned housing through your host institution. Most of the time the housing will be on campus, but sometimes institutions will find nearby off campus housing. You should receive details regarding your housing situation well in advance of your travels.

You should receive your stipend once you arrive at your host institution. They will inform you upon your arrival of further steps you will need to take, such as opening a bank account in the U.S., obtaining bus passes, availing yourselves to other forms of on and off campus transportation, etc.

One meal at typical student restaurants cost somewhere between $7-$10. Off campus restaurant prices can be higher, anywhere between $10-$20 per meal.

Most, if not all, campuses and/or their surrounding areas will have Indian restaurants. Please google Indian restaurants in your city/campus area. Also, American restaurants also usually have vegetarian food, such as sandwich shops, etc. There are also Indian grocery stores within most of the cities where your host institution is located. Cooking will depend on the availability of a kitchen.

Medical doctors are located at most campuses. There is an informative CISI (the UW-Madison required travel insurance www.studyabroad.wisc.edu/parentsinsurance.html) document that outlines all medical situations. It also outlines at which point a medical evacuation can take place and is fully covered for most typical medical situations.

The government of India through IUSSTF will cover costs for transportation to and from airport. Arrangements will be made by the WINstep forward team as well as its partners in India for a point contact person at each specific institution.

Campuses have their own cafeterias which are open during most of the day. Some campuses have more than one cafeteria and in addition some have smaller canteens which serve snacks throughout the day. Students can go grocery shopping outside the campus, as there are several easily accessible grocery stores throughout the city. Some locations will have refrigeration or cooktops available for individuals, but in past students have commented that it was not readily available outside of a specific eatery establishment, so please contact us to find out about refrigeration/stove availability at your son/daughter’s institution.

Please bring a small amount of readily consumable food with you, such as namkeen biscuits, maggie noodles, and maybe some homemade foods such as paratha, upma, etc, in case everything is closed upon your arrival.

No, you will not be provided a cell phone in the U.S. You have three options: 1. Check your own personal cell phone policy with respect to making calls in and from the U.S. 2. Purchase a Matrix calling card from India and your parents will pay the bill from India. 3. Purchase a pay as you go phone from the U.S. We will post affordable plans and providers. We highly recommend a cell phone in the U.S. in case of emergencies.

Side trips are available, but not funded through the program. The student must set up side trips on their own, if they choose to travel. We suggest they travel in a group to make the most of their trip and to ensure safe travels. Some students have suggested makemytrip.com as a good resource for these separate trips. Neither IUSSTF nor Winstep Forward will take responsibility or liability for these trips. Please let your lab and the host institution know if you are traveling outside the city

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india

This list will give you of an idea of the immunizations that you will and should get if you schedule an appointment at your doctor’s office.