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Posts posted by thegraydude

  1. I find your comments about my country very distasteful and racist

    Quite frankly you have never been here and you've only heard yet you're making such scathing comments about a place you've never been to throwing all objectivity into thin air. Way to go

    You're going to need a major mind overhaul so you don't run into trouble with uncouth and unguarded statements when you com over to a multi ethnic society like the US


    On a separate note, i didn't hijack your thread. The forum allows for questions regarding similar issues.



    For your reference: Wikileaks "FRAUD SUMMARY - LAGOS" document: 




    "(U) Nigeria has all of the high risk factors for passport and visa fraud, including lax identity document control; poor or nonexistent records for feeder documents such as birth certificates; powerful pull factors such as poverty and a large expatriate diaspora that encourage emigration; and endemic fraud and corruption at all levels of society. The lack of controls and a high incidence of bribery that permeates every level of society create an environment where anything and everything is available and for sale. With enormous hunger for visas as an escape route, documents that cannot be trusted, and internal security conditions that make post anti-fraud investigative travel expensive and difficult, Lagos is a high-fraud Post."



    I do not mean to be disrespectful towards your country. I'm sorry you feel that way. But at the same time you must remember that I did not do it to incite or offend you. If the Visas are being denied on a large scale (per your statement), there has to be a logical reason for it.


    I do not agree with your statement that I was being racist. It's like me trying to explain '419 Nigerian email scams' in the class, and someone stands and says, 'you are being distasteful and racist'.


    As for needing "mind overhaul", I think you are the one who needs to tone down on your 'sensitivity' a little since any sane person would agree that I didn't write it for the purpose of demeaning your country.


    Good day to you sir. I hope you get your Visa.

  2. @bbdd2: While you wait for her reply, here's my two cents: Nigeria seems to have a low Visa issuance rate since there are problems of document fraud there. I have heard that it's easy to bribe local entities and get the required documents forged there. The Visa Officers have to reject such people. So, IMHO, if you're documents are in order, you do not need to be particularly nervous about your interview because of your country. Goodluck!


    On a separate note: Please refrain from thread hijacking.

  3. I graduated in June, 2014 and since then I did a little 'writing' online -- and was paid a few dollars per article. In some months, I didn't write at all, since I was busy with GRE, TOEFL prep etc.

    Right now, I write 1-2 articles a month online. I do not have a contract, and I publish when and if I want to with this mag. Do you think it is alright for me to put 'unemployed' in my status? In the text-box that says 'specify other', I wrote: 'After completing my graduation, I have mainly been busy with PhD prep. I wrote some papers and reviewed some books.'


    Any thoughts?

  4. Well, put it this way, even if your department pays you X amount of money, if you had some catastrophic event that landed you in the hospital where you racked up a $10k bill, who would pay for that? 

    The question is really, at the end of the day, if you were in the hole financially, who would make sure you could pay your U.S. bills off and fly back to your home country? 

    If you're wealthy, it's yourself.

    If your parents or other family (a rich uncle?), then put that.

    If the school is actually taking you on as a liability to enter the US (which, with an I-20 in hand, is arguably the case), then you'd put the school.

    Thanks jujubea. I never thought about it from an 'emergency' perspective. Well, in that case, my parents would support me (since I do not have sufficient funds personally). So according to that, I should put 'parents' there. However, this emergency scenario aside, the evidence in I-20 shows that my department is supporting me, so I was thinking I'll go with that.


    @jujubea: On a separate note, you answered one of my questions about TAL concerns (information security major). There, in one of your posts, you say 'check your PM', however I never received a PM from you. I was wondering if you could send that again. Also, since you have been a former VO, could I PM you a couple of questions I have regarding the 221-G?  Please let me know.

  5. Yes, that's what I thought as well, my department is "paying for the trip" since they are financially supporting me during my stay. However, in that case, should I put 'self' because the department is going to 'pay me' for my TA work and this is the money that I'll use to support 'myself'. Or, should I just choose "company/organization" and put my school's name there?


    I'm hoping to hear from international PhD students like TakeruK who would hopefully remember what they put in their DS-160.

  6. DS-160 asks who is paying for your trip. I was thinking they mean 'who's going to cover flight charges' etc. so I thought I'd mention 'other person' and list the details of my parents. However, I saw a guidelines online that says, 'it should be the name of the person that has agreed to support you financially while you are in the US'. Well, in my case -- PhD student with a TA offer -- that would be my department.


    So now I'm confused whether I should enter 'company/organization' and then list my school's department details, or I should list 'other person' and enter my parents details. Please let me know what would be appropriate considering that I'm fully-funded by my department with a TA offer (so I guess they are the ones who has agreed to support me financially?)

  7. According to this pdf, TAL is considered for your country just because you are "capable of possessing nuclear tech" so Information Security wont be a concern in your country and mostly physics/energy related fields should be concerned.


    Also according to the same pdf they want to block technology "transfer", so it does not matter what you have done before, it is just the matter of what you WILL study which if you have a "research plan" letter from your POI, this would not be a concern either (even if you don't have that, you can tell them what are you going to work on based on your I-20 form)


    I think it's not just about "capable of possessing nuclear tech". For example, in one case, a student from India was asked what she's going to study at the US, and she said 'Bio-technology'. Two random questions later, she found out she was placed on 'administrative processing' and had to go through TAL. She was requested a lot of information via email and it took months to process her Visa. I'm not sure if she got it in time for her semester. She said later it seemed that the VO was looking for the 'TAL keywords' and as soon as she said 'Bio-tech', her fate was sealed.


    I do agree with you that it seems they are interested in what you're going to study in the USA, not what you have done in the past.


    Good-luck for your F1! Hope you get it!

  8. Thank you Fuzzy and TakeruK. I did read that I would be required to show ability to pay for 1st year of school -- and the TA position covers that. However, I was confused because the TA position itself is contingent upon:


    1. My continued progress towards the PhD  

    2. GPA of 3.5 or above  
    3. Satisfactory performance of TA duties  (By the way, do other TA positions have the same conditions or is it just mine?)


    So, I thought the VO might ask what if the TA funding is taken away if I fail to satisfy these conditions (in the worst case).


    Sorry, I know I'm possibly over-thinking things but I just do not want to "f*** things up on the last yard" (as one of my friends from Canada put it).

  9. My department provided the Affidavit of Support to the 'Admissions Office'. So, the I-20 issued to me clearly show my cost (Tuition + Living + Health Insurance) to be around US $30,000, and it states my personal funds to be: '0.00' and 'funds from this school' to be around US $34,000.


    So, cost = 30,000 and funds from school = 34,000 as part of my TA position.

    • Is there a possibility of VO asking to show additional funds in cases of emergency?
    • Should I be getting an Affidavit of Support from my parents as well (like Masters' students do)?
    • Also, should I be requesting my department to give me a copy of this affidavit of support to show the VO?

    (I searched a lot on Google, but all the F1 VISA information on the Internet seems to be focused on Masters' students, and no one talks about PhD students.)

  10. This makes every US visa processing take much longer and he says that they get this information from his past papers even if he does not bring it up first. 


    How did the VO find out about his past papers with a title of 'nuclear physics' if he did not bring it up?


    From his experience, the advice I would give to you is:


    1. Don't lie to any officials. 


    Yes, I don't plan to. My major at the university is 'General, Computer Science'. So, I was thinking when they ask 'so what's your PhD about'? I would say something about a common Computer Science topic instead of bringing up security, that's all. I just hope they don't ask for my publications.


  11. Background: I do security research and have worked (and written articles in magazines) on several 'ethical hacking' topics. For the record, I am NOT a gray hat hacker and I strive to enhance security technology rather than take advantage of holes.


    One of my seniors warned me not to mention anything about 'security research' during my Visa interview -- not even mention it on the resume. He did not tell me the reason.


    Problem: Now, I read about TAL on one of GradCafe's topics: "For some fields of study the wait is longer because of a process called TAL (Technology Alert List). If your research is in a field the Americans worry might be used to create war-related technologies (this is a vague description, read more online) they will want more information and will perform a security check before they approve you. In that case, the wait might be several weeks long."


    This worries me since it is easy to mistake us, security researchers, as 'threats' or hackers. So, I want to remove the 'security stuff' from my resume during the Visa interview. However, the problem is that if they Google me or ask me for a list of publications, it would clearly demonstrate that I'm a security researcher and some of my paper are titled 'Defeating ____ security' etc.


    Questions: How worried should I be about being placed on TAL? Would you suggest I refrain from mentioning my security research as far as possible (I could talk about generic stuff like machine learning or something instead)?


    I am worried that the VO might put me under TAL since it might be difficult for him/her to understand that I'm strictly a security researcher.

  12. Final Update: I received the I-20 by FedEx 2 days after it was dispatched; still have not received the unregistered I-20 initially sent to me -- most probably lost. Oh well....onward to the next battle: F1 Visa.


    End Remarks: Students from India (and other 'developing' countries far from the USA) are advised to pay $55 for eShipGlobal (Fedex, USPS, or DHL) lest your I-20 be lost and you wind up waiting, looking towards your door with hopeful eyes of a distressed Bollywood actress waiting for her lover's return. Remember, the person responsible for I-20 at my university told me that I'm not the first one, several students from India are complaining about the same issue.

  13. I was going to say that you shouldn't be talking to the Admissions Office, talk directly to the International Students Office


    Yes, this university is one of the biggest universities in the US with around 50,000 students. What I learned is that when you're dealing with a university of that size, it is crucial to know exactly whom to talk to about your concern. I cannot overstate the importance of this. The graduate secretary of my department was of zero help in the matter, the guy at Admissions Office actually made the situation worse, and no other office could help in the matter either--except for the right office, that is, office of international students. Ultimately, my issue was resolved when I talked to the person who was responsible for handling I-20s specifically.

  14. UPDATE: I spent 1 hour over the phone, and 10 calls later, I'm told by the Office of International Students that it is in fact possible to generate a new I-20 and since many students from India are complaining about the same issue, they will dispatch mine right away if I make the payment at eShipGlobal.


    THANK. YOU. Finally, I made the payment ($55--FedEx) and eShipGlobal will pick up my new I-20 from the university tomorrow, and mostly importantly, I will be able to track it online.


    On a separate note, to the heartless a******** who didn't think before saying that the university cannot generate a new I-20 and almost gave me a heart-attack: @$@#%@#%!#@!@#!@ *)*%^$@@  (can't use profane language at GradCafe).


    Stay tuned folks... for more updates on the drama that is my I-20.

  15. Call them man. Phone calls are way easier.


    OK, I called the the Admissions Office and explained my situation--


    Me: It's been 6 weeks and I have not received the I-20.

    AO: Wait for some more time; we cannot go ahead and generate a new I-20.

    Me: What if it is lost in the mail?

    AO: It cannot be lost.


    End of Story. Now, I have declined the offers from the other universities and I'm REALLY worried. An unregistered, untraceable mail from USA to India cannot be lost? Are you kidding me?


    Now, I don't even know what to do anymore.

  16. I think once they issue the I-20, you cannot accept other offers, even if you want to, since your Sevis number is already taken.


    Are you sure about this? Because I remember reading somewhere that it is very much possible to get multiple I-20s from different universities, and just showing the one corresponding to the university that you plan to join at the time of the VISA interview. However, accepting offers and then declining them later is frowned upon. So, I didn't do this. But it is possible I think.

  17. UPDATE: I have declined the offer from other universities. Their reply: Thank you for your response, -------.  We wish you the best of luck!


    For some reason, I am feeling very sad right now to have declined these offers. I do realize that other waitlisted students would now have an opportunity and I am glad about that. But somehow, it just doesn't feel good after having sent those 'decline' emails. Only a fellow PhD student can understand how hard we work to get those 'acceptances' and funding. I'm going to need some major distractions today--maybe watch the new season of Game of Thrones.

  18. I have been accepted into multiple universities. University A was by far my first choice and I accepted their offer on 25th Feb. However, I haven't yet responded to the rest of the offers (was waiting for April 15th deadline). Now, university A admitted me and dispatched my I-20 on 5th of March but I have not received it yet and there's very little communication from university A's admissions office. Basically, they just tell me to wait for it.


    My question is: should I decline the other offers? What if my I-20 is lost? Can I risk declining all other offers when I don't have an I-20 in my hand yet? Is there any other alternative by which I can safeguard my I-20 before declining other offers? (For international students, "admission" means nothing if you don't have an I-20 in your hand).

  19. So, once you reach the 6 week mark, contact your school again and ask if they could re-send it!


    Alright, the 6th week would be over this week and I sent an email to my department's graduate secretary, that I have been in touch with, asking if she would advise that I request that a new I-20 be sent through express delivery. She didn't reply. :( Awesome.


    Until now, I have been in touch with her and she contacted "Admissions Office" on my behalf. Would you suggest that I contact the Admissions Office directly now and ask for a new I-20? Or, perhaps my adviser? Although, I don't want to bring my adviser into this yet.

  20. UPDATE (or should I say no update): There is nothing to update since the package did not arrive yet. It has been over a month. It seems like I was right to be troubled by the fact that the university dispatched the I-20 via an untraceable, unregistered post. I have my doubts about the Indian Postal Service, and I want to know what would happen if the package is lost. Would the university generate and send a new I-20? Would this require some hassle or is it a routine process?




    TIME = raw_input("Reader, Do you have the time to listen to me whine? (y/n)")
    if TIME=='y' or TIME=='Y':
    def venting():
        RANT = "Like everyone else here, I worked hard for years, spent a year going through the process of applying while juggling jobs on the side, then waited nervously to hear about what seems like a life-changing opportunity to me. I hear the good news, <insert description of ecstatic family here>, and wait for the I-20 to arrive so I can finally get the VISA thing out of the way. Meanwhile, I learn that the university has sent the most important document of my life in the same manner my father used to post letters to my mom while wooing her in the 70s. Awesome. 'Don't panic, run to GradCafe and ask for advice', I said to myself.
        Coming back to the university. I was accepted into PhD at multiple universities and I didn't accept any other offers except for this one, which is where I feel I belong. Meanwhile, I wonder if the university feels the same way about me. Not overreacting, but I'm a little annoyed how the university never asked me whether I would like to pay for express delivery--as they promise on their website to international students. I understand if you're sending such unregistered mail within US, or even to countries like Canada, Germany etc. However, you cannot be sending important documents halfway across the world to a 'developing' country like India, unregistered and untraceable.
       Tried writing to the university, their replies are the same: 'deliveries to India usually take 4-6 weeks, we recommend waiting another week'. Oh sure, after a month, I'll wait some more. It's not like there was an easier, safer way to get the documents across...that I would've paid for.
       It's funny how I cannot trace a package online the one time that I really need to. Meanwhile, whenever I order a pair of shoes online, the shopping website spams the hell out of my cellphone with precise GPS locations of the deliveryman in the vicinity of my house. One time, I clicked on one of the links given in one such message, and it traced the location of the local delivery guy on his motorcyle--on a freaking Google map. When he arrived, I was already out the door with a creepy count Dracula smile on my face: 'welcome my friend, I've been expecting you.'
       Anyway, if there are any other Indian students reading, don't make the same mistake I did. Call the university and explicitly request that your I-20 be sent through express, registered post. It's worth the $40-$50, trust me."
         print rant
  21. Warning: The following may be considered a rant by an unstable and anxious mind of a graduate student on an emotional roller coaster since June 2014. 


    So, I just got into a great university and as far as the I-20 was concerned, I felt safe in the knowledge that the university sends an email to the international student asking them to choose their preference for sending the I-20. At least, that is what their website said. I wanted to choose, and pay for, express delivery (eshipglobal) that would allow me to bypass the legendary local mail service of India. Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but since I-20 is an important document, I am a little paranoid about using local mail.


    One fine day, I received an email that my I-20 has been dispatched and I was given no further details germane to what mail system was used. I asked for a tracking number, to which received a strange reply: "..don't think there is any tracking number since it should all be in a normal sized envelope."


    Huh? Normal sized envelopes don't have tracking number in the US? What? As far as I know, any registered post (even the regular USPS international first class mail) would have a tracking number.


    Anyway, so no tracking number and now it's been 10 days and I have had it waiting for the postman every day. Any Indians here? How long did it take for your I-20 to arrive from the university? Does it take a month or so?

  22. This one is really troubling me these days. I got into two schools of my choice and got TA offers from both (more or less the same amount of money).


    University A is my first choice and it says "We are pleased to recommend you for admission into the Computer Science department".


    University B says: "I am pleased to inform you of your admission into B to study Computer Science PhD".


    I have accepted A's offer; and signed, scanned, and emailed my acceptance to them. However, I cannot decline B's offer because of this recommended for admission clause that A has sent meThat means it is not official yet. A says that my acceptance (and other material) has been passed on to their "Office of Admissions" and they will then issue I-20. This should take 2-3 weeks.


    Meanwhile, B has given me until 15th of April to accept or decline the TA position that they are offering me.


    I am an international student, and I am not familiar with what would be best in this situation. I definitely do not want to respond to B until my I-20 has been issued by A. I have read here on GradCafe that if, in case of international students, funding is not available, Office of Admissions might decline department's recommendation for my admission. In any case, I want to hear A has sent my I-20 before 15th of April but I cannot force them either.


    My dilemma is how do I tell Office of Admissions at A that I need their official decision of admission (and I-20) until the 15th of April before I respond to B's offer. I am not sure I can contact Office of Admissions directly and tell them to "hurry up". That would be rude.


    Any suggestions about what is best for me in this case?





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