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Open a Bank Account PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 27 February 2012 23:44

Open a Bank Account

Understanding the banking system in the U.S. is likely to help you in the long run. You will be able to quickly learn how things work here and how to cultivate banking habits. You can have two kinds of Bank Accounts:

  • Savings Account (with interest)
  • Checking Account (with no interest)

You are likely to use the checking account more often especially for all check payments, at ATM withdrawal, or as against your checking or debit card. Saving account is for the funds you save. Your propensity to save and spend is likely to determine the balance in both these accounts.

Opening a bank account

Go to the nearest Bank. To open a new bank account you will need
  • your social security number
  • your photo-Id (either a passport or driver's license)
  • You will be directed to fill an application form. Once you have completed the form and your identity has been duly verified you will receive the following:
  • You will get a separate account number for your checking and saving account, if you are opening both the accounts with the same bank.
  • A check (or ATM) card to be used at ATM centers for withdrawing cash. Usually, there is a limit to the cash you can withdraw in a day, from any ATM machine. These details can be obtained from your bank. Check card can be used at many ATM centers, throughout USA.
  • For initial use few blank check books will be provided to you. You may need to order if you require more blank check books. Some banks may provide extra check books free of cost, or may charge you for it. You can also get it printed from some private printing agency, with your choice of colors and design to be printed on the checks. Generally charges are $5-$15 for 250 checks. You can search for such agencies and their rates on the internet.


  • Look for the nearest Bank to your home or workplace. The closer you are to the bank, the easier it is to deposit checks and withdraw money.
  • Ask for their ATM locations, and terms of use for any transactions.
  • Most banks offer online banking which is really very useful. Ask for this facility and consider this fact while choosing a bank for your account.
  • If you don't receive your bank statements, ask for these and check them carefully. Report if you observe any discrepancies in the records.
  • Protect your identity. Shred any bank related documents that are no longer useful. These documents contain information about your address and other sensitive information that can be wrongfully used. Do not throw these without shredding or tearing.

People who move to the U.S. on work, dependent and student visas are discovering the value of banking intelligently. Now is the time to make the right choices to manage your finances.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 July 2012 14:17
Get a Driver's License PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 27 February 2012 23:44

Get a Driver's License

After you arrive in the U.S. on your nonimmigrant visa, you must apply for the driver's license. It is not legal to drive without a valid driver license. Every state in U.S. has different rules and regulations for motor vehicles. Even though the basic rules are the same you must verify with the regulations of the local Department of Motor Vehicles in your area. You can check the official website to get more information. This article focuses on the California State DMV procedure.

How to get a Driving license?

There are two steps involved for getting a driver license:
  • Written test.
  • Behind the wheel test (also known as a road test)

The written test is a test of traffic laws, road signs, and driving safety rules. You will get a book (driver's handbook) to study for this exam. Study it thoroughly. There are 46 questions on the test. A passing score is at least 39 correct answers. You have three chances to pass the test. You are allowed to take a retest in one visit. If you fail three times, you must wait 7 days before taking the written test again. No written tests are administered after 4.30 pm on regular business days.

What is the procedure?

Step 1 Written Test

  • Visit a DMV office (make a prior appointment for a faster service).
  • Submit the completed application form, along with the fee. No copies are accepted.
  • You need to give a thumb print and have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security number, and proof of your date of birth.
  • Show your original passport.
  • Pass a vision test
  • Take the written test.
  • You will get a temporary permit. If you have never been licensed before, you may use this permit to practice driving. During all the driving sessions, you must be accompanied with an adult who must be 25 years of age or older and holds a valid state license. It is illegal for you to drive alone. You can also take classes from some Instructor. Once you are comfortable in driving take an appointment for a behind the wheel test (road test).
If you have moved to U.S. from India, you will be required to take a driving test. If you already have a license from another state, the driving test can be waived.

Step 2 Driving Test

To take your driving test, you need to make a driving test appointment by calling a toll free number 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. You must provide the following at the time of the driving test:
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility
  • California Insurance Requirements

Like the written test, you must pass the driving test in three chances. If you fail three times, it means that you must practice. Make an appointment once you are fully prepared. For each additional driving test you must pay a $6 fee. The test normally takes 10-15 min. It is a 100 points test, and minimum 70 is passing. This criteria is subject to change. After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days. You will receive a new photo license in the mail.

Learners' Permit/Provisional Instructions permit

Normally this permit is issued to teens under the age of 18. However if you are learning to drive for the first time, and/or do not have an Indian International Driving Permit you are eligible to get this permit. Once you have practiced driving on the permit and are ready to give the road test you may apply for an appointment. Please check with the DMV for the current rules on such permits.


  • Read the drivers handbook carefully for traffic rules for the written test.
  • Look at sample tests on the DMV website. Ask your friends for old question papers to get an idea of the test.
  • Once you pass the written test take an appointment for your road test. You can call the toll free number to take this appointment or visit https://eg.dmv.ca.gov/foa/welcome.do?localeName=en for an online appointment.
  • Take some driving classes from a good instructor.
  • The instructors charge on an hourly basis. Hence make the best of each class you take. Do not hesitate to ask questions about signal rules, sign boards, or anything else.
  • Ask your friends to suggest a good instructor. Do not rely on the recommendation of your HR person for the instructor. That is not enough.
  • Instructors will get their own car for the road test.
  • Getting a preferred appointment with DMV is difficult. You may go to any of the DMV offices, where ever you can get an appointment.
  • During your road test be confident. Follow the rules, look at signs and speed limits, listen to the instructions of the evaluator, and drive safely. If you do not understand an instruction ask the evaluator to repeat it. Do not be in a hurry. Be calm during your test.
  • If you pass the test, double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.
  • If you have not received your license after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on the status for you. Hold onto your interim license with you to provide information when requested. If you don't get the license for a very long time, contact the DMV office.
  • If your name is different on your birth date and/or legal presence document than the one you are currently using, you will also need to provide an additional acceptable document to establish your true full name, such as; a marriage certificate, dissolution of marriage, adoption or name change document that shows your current name.
  • Do not drive without your driving license or temporary driving permit. For detailed and complete information, visit your state's DMV web site Commonly asked questions

I have recently moved to California. Can I drive a car in California for few days?

Yes! According to the current DMV laws, person over 18 and having a valid driver license from his home state or country can drive a car here. But if you take a job in California or become a resident, you must get the California driver license, within 10 days. Indian International Drivers Permit (IDP) works only in certain states. Please make sure that it works for the state you are driving in.

I have moved to California from another state in the U.S. How do I get a California license?

You will need to go through the procedure described above. You will not be required to take a road test.

What are the normal charges for Driving Instructor?

Normally their charges are 50-60$ / 2 hrs. Confirm the cost before making an appointment with an instructor. Many instructors prefer to accept cash or check.

I am a H4 visa holder, and want a driving license, but DMV asks for SSN. How can I get the driving license without a SSN?

The Government does not give the SSN to people on dependent visa. They do give an official denial letter, specifying the reason of denial. You can show this denial letter in order to get your driving license. It is accepted at the DMV. You must also present your unexpired foreign passport with the unexpired I-94. If you have an ITIN number that is also accepted at DMV. You must inquire about the acceptable documents in the absence of SSN with the DMV.

I have recently changed my residence address. When should I notify DMV?

The change of address must be reported to DMV within 10 days. There is no separate charge for changing your address. You will be required to fill out a form called DMV 14. You cannot request change of address as part of the driver license renewal by internet process. For California the mailing address is:
Department of Motor Vehicles
Change of Address
P.O. Box 942859
Sacramento, California 94259-0001.
Address of other states can be found out at their respective DMV Web Sites.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2012 18:03
Apply for Social Security Number PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 27 February 2012 23:43

Apply for Social Security Number

As soon as you arrive in the US on a work visa, you must get a Social Security Number (SSN) immediately. The SSN is required for the following purposes: Working in the U.S. Getting Social Security benefits, and, Receiving some other government services Remember that your SSN is not an identification number. You must protect your SSN like other important papers such as salary slips, passport, I-797, etc. You are not required to show your Social Security card everywhere and you must not carry the card with you. Initially you will need the SSN to work in the U.S., open a bank account, and obtain benefits from U.S. agencies. Since it is a unique number consider as your own 'tracking number'. The Social Security number is used by the Internal Revenue Service as an identifier in processing your tax returns. You will also need it to apply for a drivers license, phone, internet, or cable connection.

Why should I apply for the SSN?

You must apply for the SSN. Merely getting the H1B visa is not enough. Without a social security number you are not allowed to legally work in the U.S. The SSN is a unique number given by the social security administration (SSA). Every individual is required to be registered with government by law. Your social security number is a 9 digit number made up of 3 parts called the AREA (XXX), GROUP (XX), and SERIAL (XXXX). The first 3 digits represent the state where you applied it. The other parts are unique.

Why is it important to keep the Social Security Number private?

Your Social Security number is frequently used as an identification number to access many computer databases like your bank account, credit report, tax information, etc. As such it is like your complete life sketch. Anyone with your SSN can access all your personal and professional information. Hence there is a risk of fraud and anyone can use your SSN to access your bank account, credit accounts, utilities records, and other important information. Therefore you must protect your SSN.

How to get the SSN?

Getting the SSN is a simple procedure.
  • Go to the nearest SSA office,
  • Fill up an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and
  • Show original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency proving your immigration status [including a work permit by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ], passport, identity card (ID)
  • Get a receipt
  • Receive the SSN in 2-3 weeks via mail on your residence address. On the H1B visa you are an immigrant to the country and not a citizen. You will be asked for the following papers by the Social Security:
  • Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport);
  • I-94 with your unexpired foreign passport; or
  • Work permit card from the Department of Homeland Security (I-766 or I-688B).

I have lost my SSN. What do I do to replace a lost card?

To get a replacement card, you will need to:
  • Complete the Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
  • Show proof of your identity;
  • Show evidence of your current legal noncitizen status if you are on the H1B visa.
You will not get a new number. Your replacement card will have the same details and number as your previous card.


Do not give your social security number to anyone, unless you are convinced it is required. You will be required to give the last four digits of your social security number on many occasions. For example if you call the customer service number for your cable account, the associate will definitely ask for this number. Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you must verify:

  • Why your number is needed;
  • Can you supply some alternate information;
  • How your number will be used;
  • What happens if you refuse; and
  • What law requires you to give your number
  • The answers from the associate can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number or not. If you suspect something you can simply refuse to give this information.
  • Never print your Social Security Number on your checks, business cards, address labels etc.
  • Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet.
  • Do not throw any paper with your SSN information. Always use a shredder before disposing important papers. Identity theft is a big problem in the U.S. You can protect yourself by protecting your important documents.
  • The local social security office is listed under U.S. Government agencies in your telephone directory or you may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
  • If you do not have a telephone directory, you may locate the nearest Social Security office on the Internet at

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2012 18:00
UK Visa Fee PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 27 February 2012 23:43

US Visa Fee

Fees for USA visa. Depending on the type of USA visa you are applying for, the USA visa fee may be different.See the following table to see how much is the US visa for applicable US visa. Following is the fee structure for non-immigrant US visas. All fees are non-refundable. US Dollar exchange rate 1 USD = 54 INR as of Nov, 29, 2011

US Visa Type Fees (USD) Fee (INR)
All non-petition based USA visa applicants: Visitor Visa (B2 visa), Business Visa (B1), 
Student Visa (F1 visa), F2, J1, J2 M1, M2
$140 Rs 7,560
All petition based applicants (H, L, O, P, Q and R ) and dependent visas $150 Rs 8100
K visa $350 Rs 18,900

The fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank check favoring "HDFC Bank a/c US Embassy". The fee must be paid at one of the authorized HDFC Bank branches in India.

Note: US consulate determines the visa fee in Indian Rupees. The exact fee equivalent in Indian Rupees (INR) is subject to change depending on currency exchange rates. As of Nov, 29, 2011, the exchange rate is $1 USD = 54.00 INR.

Additional Fees for H and L Visa categories.

Effective November 20, 2010, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India will begin collecting an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions that fall under the provisions of Public Law 111-230. These additional fees apply to petitioners with more than 50 employees in the United States and with more than 50 percent of those employees in H-1B or L (including L-1A, L-1B, and L-2) status. This fee is in addition to the $500 Fraud Detection and Prevention fee and the MRV fee and applies in both first-time and renewal cases (unless further information indicates otherwise).

These conditions are Employer related. If your employer is subject to make such fee, Your Visa sponsoring Employer should be providing you this information. Most companies with more than 50 H1B visa employees do fall under this criteria.

Service Fee:

Service Fee (non-refundable) Fee Amount
VFS service charge INR 359 Rs (including service tax)
HDFC Bank charges INR 21 Rs (including service tax )
Total Service Fee Rs 380.
This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favoring“HDFC Bank a/c VFS”. Must be paid at certain branches at HDFC bank . Should be paid along with visa application fee.

Both US visa fee and service fee must be paid at the same time. Payment can be made in Cash or Bank draft. IF paying by back draft make sure that the bank draft is from a non-coprative Indian bank. And both Visa fee and Service fee draft should be made separate for the specific amount shown above.

Where and how to make the fee payment ?

Depending on your country the payment process and mode of payment may vary. In India the US visa fee must be paid at approved branches for US visa fee HDFC bank only. Fee can be paid in Cash or Bank draft. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.

  • HDFC Banks fee receipt can be used to make an appointment within 1 year( 365s days) from date of issue. The receipt is deemed as utilized once the interview has taken place, and cannot be used to make a subsequent appointment. For any clarifications you may write to HDFC Bank Ltd. at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • You are required to submit a clear photocopy of the first page (bio data) of your current passport to the bank when making your payment. The bank will issue you a visa fee receipt in duplicate which will have a 10 digit barcode number affixed on it. You require this barcode number to schedule your interview appointment. Please note, you are required to wait for one working day from the date of purchase of your visa fee receipt before you can use it for scheduling your interview appointment.
  • If you are an Indian citizen resident in the U.S., to obtain a Visa Fee Receipt from HDFC Bank, please send a copy of your passport’s bio data page to the person in India assisting you. That person will have to submit the bio data page fax to HDFC Bank in order to get a fee receipt issued.
  • After you have paid the application fee, please keep the HDFC Bank fee receipt for your records to carry for submission at the Embassy / Consulate, on the day of your interview. You will be required to submit the Embassy copy (blue or green copy as applicable).If you are applying for an interview at the Mumbai Consulate; you will be required to submit the original Embassy copy along with your application pack to the VFS Application center.
  • Once you pay the , VFS computer systems gets the details about the payment.The fee receipt gets activated in VFS systems 2 working days from date of issue. Do not attempt to take an appointment till then.

    Sample of HDFC Fee receipt

    Non-immigrant visa issuance fee, including border-crossing cards.[ Not Required for Indian Citizens]
  • For citizens other then India please check the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out the visa issuance fee amount, if applicable: Varies (Reciprocal)

USA Visa application fee is non-refundable: Since the US visa is subject to approval, after the visa interview. If your visa is refused, the visa application fee is not refundable. If you want to re-apply you can do so, but must follow the process and resubmit the new application and visa fee.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 July 2012 12:04
Student Visa PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 27 February 2012 23:43


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 16:30
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