Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Choosing your path to USA: Why and How

With the increasing number of opportunities and the quality of life restoring in India you should take extra caution while leaving the country. What looks like a solid plan for the next few years might change the entire course of your life. The energies at this point of your life should not be used in any other means except for the betterment of you and your family. So it is important for you to understand and make a conscious choice on why and how to come to the USA. The list can be exhaustive and these are only a few popular routes.

As a Student with average GRE scores

A low GRE score means an admission in to a college with little or no Financial Aid. It will be an extension to your college/student life for sure. But there is an underlying struggle to study, work and earn a job. Unlike your bachelors where your parents will be bearing the fees, in most cases we feel obligated to pay back the big bank loan. Very few students here make it to the full time jobs. Part of it is because of the companies not sponsoring the visas avoiding the immigration hassle. So the students are sucked in to the vicious consultancy firms and their lethargic guest houses. These parasites mint money right from your OPT(Optional Practical Training ) period ,promising you a VISA and Green Card. Putting you masters degree aside your job search will start with a minimum of eight plus years of fake experience for your resume to be considered.

As a Student with good GRE scores

With an Aid and admission in to a reputed university things are better organized. You will be able to work with highly qualified professors using the latest of technologies and equipment. Unless the markets are really bad you can work as an intern for a good company and grab a full time offer while in campus. These companies offer good salary and benefit packages. They also process your visas and green cards professionally on time.

Through your current employer on a L1 VISA

L1 visa allows you to work for a branch of your company in America. The advantage of an L1 over other visa types is that your spouse on a L2 visa will be able to work. On the downside you will not be able to switch to a different employer. Unlike H1, a L1 visa cannot be transferred.A fresh out of the quota H1 has to be applied. While the US based companies pay decent salaries, the offshore Indian companies which bring their talent onsite, live on lower end of the salary scale knowing that you cannot switch. Also the management sees this as a big favor they are doing for you and expect the returns by you managing the projects and the offshore teams in your personal time. They rarely do your Green Cards afraid that you might run away.

Through your current employer on a H1 VISA

The offshore companies do H1 Visas as it is tough to get a L1 visas for professionals with a non computer science degree. While you have the option to take another job and get your H1b transferred, these companies make you sign a bond stating you can’t switch. And you should work for them for a certain period once you return. This bond gets renewed every time you travel. Every time I hear the word bond the sound of slavery echoes. Even if they have spent money training you on the latest of technologies if they cannot keep you happy you should not work for them. That was one reason I chose to come here through another consulting (body shopping) company leaving Tata Consultancy Services. I LOVE TCS. But I trust my work more than my company :).

As a experienced skilled worker through a consulting (body shopping) company on a H1 VISA
While working for one company in India you can get your H1B processed through another based in US. Get in touch with your friends and relatives in the states and know about the company, current hot skills in the job market. Refresh your skills and train yourself on how to learn new skills quickly. If you make the right moves on time you can get your EAD or Green Card which will open the door of opportunities. Never submit your marks cards or any other documents or sign a bond with your visa sponsor. Instead find a different employer. Although they eat up a fair amount from your paycheck initially you have the option to switch to a better employer when you are ready.

As a worker with little or no work experience through a consulting company on a H1 VISA
It is a safe practice to stand on your feet properly before you hop on to the next step. I have seen friends coming here without the minimum required work experience only to struggle. With the current USCIS scrutiny the number of such companies and workers have gone down. But even if there is employers sponsoring your H1B this is not a good place to be. As you will take a while to settle down in the professional space it will further delay the other aspects of your personal life. I have seen families well settled in India migrating here due to peer pressure and standing the pain of immigration lines and visas for their dependents. Unlike in India, your dependent no matter how highly qualified also needs a H1 Visa to work.

The friend or colleague you follow today might not be able to help you with the immigration or job problems later. Be clear on why you want to come here and the path you choose. Unless you have a very good GRE score and Aid think twice before coming for MS. It is definitely not a preferred way to extend your student life. Very few companies consider you for a job based on your master’s degree alone. Instead if you get a good job offer in India take it. The experience you gain over the years will help you go places and not just the US. While coming here on a work visa make sure the job markets here are good and try to be the best at what you do. While you might be paid less, coming here through an offshore company is a safe bet. And if you are confident that you can find a job irrespective of the company then go with the body shopping consultancies. Never rush or get frustrated when things don’t happen as expected. Learn from every failure as they are not final. Happy Conscious Journey!

Read the following articles for further details:

6)7 steps to go Onsite/Abroad on your job