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Legal & Finance in USA

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If you’re an international student ready to apply for your first U.S. credit card, keep reading!

You know you have to build your credit score if you are living in the U.S. You absolutely need a credit history in the U.S., but you aren’t building one if you pay with your debit cards or cash. And the sooner you start building it, the better!

You can’t build credit without having credit, and sometimes you can’t get credit as a student without a credit history. Paying your credit card bill each month will help you build your credit history. So where to start? We’re here to help you from the very beginning, and we’ll suggest credit cards that might work for you. 

Which type of credit card should I apply for?

Here is the scenario: an international student comes to the U.S. and needs to build credit from scratch. The best card must be the one that meets his or her specific needs. 

If you’re applying for the first credit card in the U.S. as a student, a student Cash Back card might be the best option for you. Student cash back cards offer students a chance to earn up to 5% on everything they spend with the card. That way, the student can save some money while spending money.

International students ask a lot about credit cards, and it’s important to know that each credit card company has different requirements. Sometimes, the company requires you to have a Social Security number (SSN) to apply; if that’s the case, you can work on campus to get an SSN. On the other hand, some credit cards only require your passport and student ID to be qualified. So, understand what you need before applying for a credit card and try your best to meet the application requirements!

If you are starting to realize the importance of obtaining a credit card, we can help with suggestions. No matter whether you’re building credit from nothing or you’re looking forward to saving money by having a student cash back card on everything in your daily life, you should read on, and take the very first step to applying for a credit card.

Top-ranked international student credit cards

Here are top-ranked credit cards for international students that we think might be a good start for your lifestyle:

1. Discover

Discover provides two top-ranked college credit cards that allow students to get rewards with no annual fee. Plus, you can get $150 back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months after opening your account. Both Discover it® Chrome for Students and Discover it® Student Cash Back pay cash rewards. However, they have different rewards on different things. Pick the card with features designed to meet your specific needs. Also worth mentioning: Discover offers a low introductory rate (0% intro APR* for 6 months on purchases), a FICO® Credit Score for free (on monthly statements, mobile, and online), and up to 5% cash back at different places each quarter. 

2. Capital One 

Journey® Student Rewards Credit Card provides 1% cashback on all purchases, plus a 0.25% cashback bonus on the cashback you earn if you pay on time. And, there’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee either. This might be a great feature for international students who travel or go to their home countries a lot.

Note: APR = annual percentage rate. It’s most often expressed in terms of an interest rate (%). APR is a measure that attempts to calculate what percentage of the principal you’ll pay per period.

Take your time and choose everything with confidence

Building a credit history in the U.S. requires a lot of patience and good financial habits. If you’re new to the U.S., you might need to spend some time weighing the pros and cons of different credit card offers so you can build up your credit history. Choosing the right one takes a lot of time but it can pay off. 

Follow us on Facebook so you won’t miss any important and must-know information as an international student!

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Have you lived outside India for more than 182 days in the financial year (Apr-March)? If yes, then for tax purposes, you are an NRI (Non-Resident Indian). As per FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) guidelines, it is illegal for NRIs to hold savings accounts in their name in India.

Instead, you will have to convert those accounts into NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee) accounts. Additionally, it is a good idea to open an NRE (Non-Resident Rupee) account as well. These accounts are needed only when an NRI wants to have a bank account in his/her own name in India to hold savings, earn/invest in India and wants to freely transfer funds between US and India. (If you don’t have any Indian bank accounts, you can still send money to someone in India via money transfer services, wire transfers or Telegraphs, or buy something in India with International Credit Cards).

What is the NRO account?

The NRO account is a savings or current account held in India for NRIs to manage their income earned in India. All income which is receivable in India such as rentals from property, investments, pension etc have to be deposited in this account. Any payment towards insurance premiums or EMIs on loans which you availed while in India also has to be mandated from NRO account.

You can apply for an NRO account jointly with a resident Indian in which the bank will give you both an NRO debit card each. Alternately, you can add a mandate holder for the account who can carry out certain operations of the account on behalf of the NRI like drawing cheques to make local payments, make and renew fixed deposits, and invest in avenues open for NRIs. Any foreign currency deposited into the NRO account will convert to Indian rupees.

Even though funds from NRO account are now repatriable up to $1million (with a certificate from a Chartered Accountant for payment of taxes and other repatriation fees), it is advised to keep these India based earnings in India, in the NRO account. Note that interest earned in the NRO Account is subject to TDS (Tax Deductible At Source) at 30.9%.

And what about an NRE account?

The NRE account comes to the rescue, for NRIs wanting to transfer funds between US and India. One can deposit only foreign currency earned abroad in this account, which gets converted into INR at the time of deposit. Therefore, you may repatriate the money in this account (plus interest earned) any time without incurring income/wealth/gift tax. The benefit of repatriation and taxation is the main benefit of the NRE account. Some Indians move their US savings to the NRO accounts, invest in India in high yield instruments, and re-transfer and use that money in the US. Transferring funds between and NRE and NRO account is straightforward and simple. Additionally, with the NRE account, you will receive an international debit card that enables you to transact and withdraw money at any time (withdrawal in INR).


However, a joint NRE account can be opened only with another NRI. You cannot use your NRE account for receiving funds/income/interest in India. To make local bill payments, purchase property, etc. in India you will have to move funds from your NRE to NRO account first. This is how the government regulates the inflow of foreign money to India.

Please contact your Indian Bank now for details on opening and managing your NRE and NRO accounts.

To read more about related topics, check these out:

1. Top 10 tax mistakes made by immigrants - https://www.homeis.com/in-ny/posts/top-10-tax-mistakes-made-by-immigrants-5c61eda5c988d7001094fde7

2. How to open a bank account - https://www.homeis.com/in-ny/posts/how-to-open-a-bank-account-5beb28980503910013602255

3. Creating healthy financial habits - https://www.homeis.com/in-ny/posts/creating-healthy-financial-habits-5ce49c02b259fb001363e3c9

4. Money Transfer options - https://www.homeis.com/in-ny/lists/money-transfer-options-5bf47c801bde6e0014c12956

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Currently, when you are renewing your visa, applying for a Green card, or change of status, immigration agents have the right to review your social networks. The content can mean misunderstandings between agents and what you meant by x or y post – which is funny to you or your way of dressing can mean something else for the agent – so here we want to communicate six measures with which you can protect yourself.

1. Your real name is not a requirement:

On social media, you don't need to put the name your parents gave you, use a nickname, or change your name.

2. Don't use an email that links to your real name

Create an email that you only use for social networks and that is not connected with your name – not initials, not your birthday number – use your nickname, your favorite number or something you like- example: garamvadapav45@gmail.com-.

3. Change the privacy in your accounts

Think carefully about who you want your profile to see, what we recommend is that they're just your friends. The rest, modify your account so they can't even see your profile picture.

4. Do you know your virtual friends?

Consider that when you make content private, you are still sharing with a group of people. Confirm for yourself that you know those people and trust them. If you don’t feel safe with any contact seeing your content, remove them as friends or block them. You can always change this later if you feel safe again with them.

5. Your presence outside your profile

Your friends can tag you on their profile, what are those posts about? What are you doing in those pictures? Are you comfortable that that information is out there? And if the answer is no, ask your friends not to label you.

The same goes for the groups you post, think twice about what you'll post, those things, unlike your already private profile, are there for any member to see.

6. Drastic measures in this century

We know that this new requirement of immigration agents can make many very nervous. If this social media thing is taking your sleep away, consider deleting your Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc.

Don't become paranoid, that's why we made this guide and we will continue to do more, the thing is just to be a little more careful with our presence in the media, outside of that, live and enjoy your life as Indians knows how to do it.

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SBA Loans Can Be Complex: A Practical Guide:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that works with lending institutions to provide loans to small businesses. The term “SBA Loan” can be a little confusing because the agency itself does not lend money directly to small business owners. Rather, it works with its lending partners – usually banks, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions – to make it easier for business owners to secure capital. The funding for SBA loans comes from the lenders themselves, while the agency provides government-backed loan guarantees that mitigate lenders’ exposure to risk, thereby making it easier for business owners to get loans.

For instance, when Jeff Meier wanted to take full ownership of his grocery business, he approached six different banks for help with the acquisition. All of them refused.

Meier then decided to take a different route. He contacted Rappahannock Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), a certified nonprofit commercial lender, to obtain an SBA 504 loan that allowed Meier to buy out his former business partner, free up the store’s cash flow, and diversify debt.

Meier’s Battleground Country Store in Fredericksburg, Virginia, opened in 2016 with 18 employees. Today, the store has 29 employees and continues to expand its range of services. While Meier credits his experience in the U.S. Air Force and National Guard for honing his leadership and management skills, he also says that the success of his store wouldn’t have occurred without his SBA loan.

Meier’s case is similar to that of many small business owners who have secured SBA loans to expand their businesses. The loan he qualified for is one of 13 different loan types that the SBA packages in six loan programs. In all, the SBA helped issue more than $5.4 billion in loans in 2018 and, through August, was on pace to top that figure in 2019.


“Helped” is the operative word since the SBA doesn’t lend money directly to small businesses, with the exception of its Disaster Loan program. The SBA guarantees a portion of the loan, which reduces risk for lenders. This lower risk to the lender makes it easier for small businesses to get loans, especially businesses that would normally not qualify for a loan. Examples of this are businesses with insufficient down payments for collateral for traditional bank loans.

The typically lower SBA loan interest rates and term lengths make repayment less complicated. Simply put, borrowers have less money to repay over a longer period of time.

All SBA loans are similar in purpose and share characteristics, but they are each designed for different needs and different borrowers.

The SBA doesn’t have one narrow definition of a small business. Rather, different criteria are set according to industries. There are other factors that separate an SBA loan from a commercial one.


The SBA has six loan programs that offer 13 different loans. These loans are designed to accommodate a variety of needs.

The programs are as follows (All SBA interest rates are current as of August 2019):

  1. SBA (7a) Loans
  • This is the SBA’s most popular program. It’s ideal for small businesses that need working capital, and can provide up to $5 million. In addition to the standard 7(a) loan, the SBA offers three other loans of this type.7(a) Small Loan. This is a (7a) loan that can provide up to $350,000 and is typically faster to fund.
  • SBA Express Loan. The 36-hour turnaround is the advantage of this offering. But interest rates can be higher, since the SBA guarantees a maximum of 50 percent for SBA Express Loans.
  • Community Advantage Loan. These are 7(a) loans designed to provide financing to businesses in underserved areas. Borrowers may not meet standard SBA 7(a) loan criteria for a variety of reasons. These loans offer the same expedited approval of an SBA Express loan, but with 85 percent of the loan guaranteed up to $250,000.
  1. SBA Interest rates for 7(a) loans can range from 7.5 to 10 percent. They also come with a number of fees, such as an origination fee of 0.5 to 3.5 percent, an SBA guaranty fee of two to 3.5 percent and a loan packaging fee of $2,000 – $4,000.
  2. How Can I Use Money from an SBA 7(a) Loan?
  3. The SBA has rules on how you can and cannot use proceeds from an SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loan. Typically, the use of loan proceeds is very general. However, there are some limitations and restrictions on the use of funds.
  4. Acceptable uses of SBA 7(a) Loan Proceeds
  5. Financing for long and short term assets used in normal business operations. Acquisitions and refinances are eligible, and may include real estate and business goodwill. Working lines of credit are available:
  • To purchase equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies or materials
  • To purchase real estate, including land and buildings
  • To construct a new building or renovat