Accompanying spouse at graduate school

siroy.sam
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:57 am

Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby siroy.sam » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:12 am

Hi,

I am an indian citizen planning for 2012 fall graduate school entry. At present, I am not married, but my girl friend and I are discussing to get married soon, however we have not decided until now whether to get married before the graduate school entry or during the school. I am aware of the fact that one's spouse can join her husband( or his wife) at graduate school under F2 Visa depending on their capability to support financially. In this regard, I need couple of advice on issues related to accompanying my spouse at graduate school.

First, I would like to know if my TA/RAing salary that is mentioned at I20 will suffice to convince the officials at US embassy for my spouse's F2 Visa processing ( a means for supporting her financially). Otherwise, how much money is sufficient to show at my bank financial statement to indicate my capability to support her at the graduate school?

Second, is it advisable for me to get married and land at US soil with my spouse to attend the school keeping in view of the long duration of graduate school course?

Lastly, will it be possible if i can go to my native country during my graduate study for at least 30 or 40 days (say in next 1 or 2 years) to get married and come back together with my spouse ?

Please advise me both the positive and negatives aspects of these situations if there is anybody in this forum who had at some point of time experienced such similar situations. Suggestions from inexperienced friends are also highly welcome.

Regards,
Siroy

michael
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:21 am

Re: Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby michael » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:06 pm

I have not been through the process yet, and I am not trying to bring a partner with me. So I am not the most knowledgeable about this process. But some things I think you should consider are:

I am not sure if the graduate TA/RA stipend would be enough to convince the people who give out visas that you will be able to support your spouse or not. However even if it is, money would probably be VERY tight for two people to survive on a graduate student stipend and I don't personally recommend it.

Have you considered a J1 visa - with this your wife should be able to work legally in the US while you study. However, I think that you would both have to return to India for 2 years after graduating as a condition of the J1 visa.

Second, is it advisable for me to get married and land at US soil with my spouse to attend the school keeping in view of the long duration of graduate school course?


I don't understand this question - can you explain it more fully?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:10 pm

siroy.sam wrote:First, I would like to know if my TA/RAing salary that is mentioned at I20 will suffice to convince the officials at US embassy for my spouse's F2 Visa processing ( a means for supporting her financially). Otherwise, how much money is sufficient to show at my bank financial statement to indicate my capability to support her at the graduate school?

Must be, since many people in fact do support their spouses on their TA salary. You'll have a pretty crappy life if you go to a coastal school, though, so consider the middle of the country.
siroy.sam wrote:Second, is it advisable for me to get married and land at US soil with my spouse to attend the school keeping in view of the long duration of graduate school course?

You can't bring her with you until you have the spousal visa (F2). I'd get married before leaving to let that process run its course--otherwise, you might end up being here without her for a while. It will also look less suspicious--like you're marrying her just to get her into the country.
siroy.sam wrote:Lastly, will it be possible if i can go to my native country during my graduate study for at least 30 or 40 days (say in next 1 or 2 years) to get married and come back together with my spouse ?

In terms of the government, probably, though it may cause questions at customs (and any time you leave they technically have the right to reconsider your visa, so limit travel home). In terms of the school, however, a 40 day vacation will be hard to swing, in the middle of a PhD program. The first summer is pretty much the only time I could even fathom doing this, and even that will be a pain.

siroy.sam wrote:Suggestions from inexperienced friends are also highly welcome.

That's certainly where I'm coming from, though I know quite a bit about immigration law in the US because of personal experiences. Anyhow, what I'd do is this:

1. Get married as soon as possible. This will not only help with the F-2 visa for your fiancée, it will also help with applications for need-based stipend assistance (some schools have stipend riders for married students supporting dependents, such as a wife who can't work).

2. Apply for schools primarily in the midwest and southeast (the plains states, Michigan, Ohio, western PA; Virginia, Carolinas, Georgia/Florida). They're cheaper, so you can afford to support two on one salary. Have a good look at Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon/U Pitt), since these schools are quality, in a city quickly growing as a technology center (google and bio-tech primarily), located in a very cheap place to live. The Ohio schools are also excellent value choices (Ohio State, Case Western) as well as really good plains schools like CU-Boulder (though I think the cities are somewhat lacking in post-graduate job opportunities).

2. Apply for your F-1 Visa, and her F-2 Visa. You might (probably will) get yours before she gets hers. Don't despair, she'll eventually get to come over. You'll have the best luck once you've established a US bank account, and have a history of on-time rental payments.

3. Bid Adieu to your family and friends in India, and focus on finishing in 5 years. Bring your wife the minute she gets her F-2. Leave the country as infrequently as possible until you're finished to avoid the costs, loss of valuable research time, and potential visa hazards (trips for conferences don't count).

Edit: I'm obviously assuming that you are planning to marry your girlfriend no matter what. On an alternate reading of your second question, I almost feel like you're asking if it's a good career/life decision to marry her before you finish grad school. If that's the case, the answer is that it'll be in almost every significant way easier to make grad school work without her, with the notably huge exception that you wont get to be with her.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:47 pm

Also, as someone else stated, the J1 visa is a great option, with the following pros/cons:

Pros:
-Spouse can work
-Less restrictions on your hours/employers/etc
-Smaller applicant pool from India (most J-1's are Central American). Faster processing time?

Cons:
-Technically have to leave for 2 years after completing the PhD.

This con isn't quite as bad as it sounds, because it's possible to waive the 2 year requirement, if both the US State Department and your home government (India) agree. You'll need to convince India to let you out of having to come back, and also convince the state department that there's a good reason to let you stay. The first part is normally not very hard (at least for most countries), but the second part can be tricky. It's a lot easier (almost automatic) if you start a family in the US, since your children will be naturalized American citizens and also your dependents, but can also be argued through highlighting the benefits of your unique skills to the general wellbeing of the United States (technical expertise, especially in academia works for this--think postdoc). If you're an expert in the field (which is what a PhD means) you should be irreplaceable, so if you get an academic postdoc it should be enough to get you out of the 2 year commitment. Realize, however, that this process will take most of a year, and there's a hard deadline (30 days after your dissertation) for you to get your status changed (which includes applying for an H-1 visa as well as a J-1 visa waiver), or else you have to leave, and you won't be let back in for at least 2 years. It will also cost a significant amount of money (~$1000) in fees, etc. and isn't guaranteed, so be careful if you choose this option, and start planning early, with contingency plans involving 2 years in India.

Basically, you have to make a choice between a better standard of living during graduate school (assuming your spouse wants to work) and peace of mind about your visa status. The cost of living in where you end up might be the factor that makes the decision.

CarlBrannen
Posts: 381
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 pm

Re: Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby CarlBrannen » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:30 pm

bfollinprm wrote:2. Apply for schools primarily in the midwest and southeast (the plains states, Michigan, Ohio, western PA; Virginia, Carolinas, Georgia/Florida). They're cheaper, so you can afford to support two on one salary. Have a good look at Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon/U Pitt), since these schools are quality, in a city quickly growing as a technology center (google and bio-tech primarily), located in a very cheap place to live. The Ohio schools are also excellent value choices (Ohio State, Case Western) as well as really good plains schools like CU-Boulder (though I think the cities are somewhat lacking in post-graduate job opportunities).


The expensive parts of the US seem to be the coasts; For example, U. Washington in Seattle is quite expensive with the cheapest rents around $700 per month. But Washington State in Pullman, at the inland side of Washington State is quite cheap with lowest rents of $305 per month (but roughly the same student stipends).

siroy.sam
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:57 am

Re: Accompanying spouse at graduate school

Postby siroy.sam » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:34 pm

Second, is it advisable for me to get married and land at US soil with my spouse to attend the school keeping in view of the long duration of graduate school course?

I don't understand this question - can you explain it more fully?


Thanks for all your valuable advice. By the second question, I mean to say that if it is good idea to get married with my fiancée before starting my graduate study, then apply both our F1 and F2 Visa and come together to US to start my graduate study. I hope this makes more clear.

Have you considered a J1 visa - with this your wife should be able to work legally in the US while you study. However, I think that you would both have to return to India for 2 years after graduating as a condition of the J1 visa.


Sincerely, I have not much knowledge about this J1 Visa. My intension is to take up post doctoral position after my PhD. However, I am doubtful if this J1 Visa may whether restrict my further plan for pursuing postdoc or not.




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