Duke – IIT Kanpur Internship

A lot of juniors have asked me about the internship process for Duke University. So here I would explain my case and experience.

In the early January [1st January] an email was sent to all EEUG [electrical engineering undergraduate] students to apply for the internship program at Duke. We had to send two documents to a mentioned an email address provided in the email itself. The list of professors was also given who were interested in taking the students along with description of their project. It required two documents.

  1. CV
  2. Personal statement

So I wrote resume which was inclined towards academics including course project and internships. For the personal statement, only one professor was working the my area of interest/work so I wrote the essay focusing on his area of work. In the statement I wrote about my previous work related to his project in detail along with my future plans.

After a month [20 February], I received a direct internship offer letter from Duke internship coordinator. She asked me to confirm the offer along with some other formalities for acceptance. In a week they started the visa process. Subsequently  I received another email where they created my account in Duke visa services where I had to fill in all my personal details. It is a very long and multi-page form so fill it patiently and accurately because they would be using these details to prepare visa documents [ds2019] for you.

After extracting all the details from me, I guess the university applied for my J1 visa status. It took about one month to get my visa document prepared i.e. ds2019. They sent ds2019 to me via post and I received it by March end. I also received email about insurance policy. Duke had a tie up with Garnett Powers and Associate for Intern students. It gave us option to either take their policy (costing $724 for three months) or find any policy which fulfills their insurance criteria (a criterion list was given). After inquiring here and there, I couldn’t find any policy which met their terms so I went for the GPA insurance plan and paid $724.

After ds2019 in hand, I applied for US visa in Delhi office. During my time we had to pay a visa fee, sevis fee and schedule an appointment for the same. The visa appointment is a two consecutive day process.

After scheduling the interview, the website would create a list of documents and procedure. In the interview you one just have to take the documents they have asked for in document. It clearly mentions all the steps one needs to follow to get the visa. My interview was scheduled on 14th and 15th April. On day 1, they verified my documents and took essentials things like photographs, thumbprints, etc. On the day 2, there is one to one interaction with an american visa officer. The visa officer asks for purpose of your visit [IMP], who is sponsoring your visit [IMP], where you would live [IMP], details of project, etc . He is practically in-command of issuing visa to you, so treat this personal interaction seriously. Like in my case, the research project was on transistor fabrication so it didn’t matter much and interview was friendly but I have heard cases when a project is based on some security issues like atomic energy, any other sensitive topics which raises eyebrows and they tend to investigate more about it. So try to explain your case truthfully & clearly and make it sound like a academic project (which is indeed your purpose). If the visa officer finds anything suspicious then he may put your visa on hold and ask for more document from you to clarify your project/things which the officer finds suspicious. After visa being issued, one can collect it from the office. I got my visa issued after two days itself i.e. on 17 April 2015

After a week [21 April], we got an email from Duke internship coordinator asking about my flight preferences which I confirmed instantly. So my flight tickets were ready by 27th April. Now I just had to wait for departure on 24th May.

These are the few things that I would suggest you to keep ready before you travel.

  1. Ready to eat packed foods [MTR, haldiram, etc]- Take about at least 20-30 packets of these as it is cheaper here.
  2. Daily use things like soap, shampoo, medicines, etc.
  3. A foreign travel card, $500 cash, etc.

There is generally a lot of email exchange before day of journey, where they would make you aware of all the planning like details of your stay, campus map, etc. I had flight from Delhi to Newark and then Newark  to Raleigh-Durham Airport. The coordinator had already booked a cab to receive us at RDU airport and take us to our campus apartments.

The housing [at central campus apartment CCX] was provided by the university itself. It was more like two bedroom flat as per Indian standards and it was well furnished. They also provided a whole set of utensils and dining dishes. So if one knows how to cook, they he/she can buy raw materials to cook food everyday. The CCX is well located with all the facilities nearby like washing machines, bus stop, grocery shop, etc.



US tax refund – Part 1

Disclaimer: It is completely based on my personal experience. It should be just taken as an observation, NOT as directive.

I was selected for summer internship 2015 Duke University, and I was expected to get $4200 as stipend from the university.  After my internship, I got to know that I had to pay taxes as well, due to which I got reduced stipend of $3370. Since I was unaware of the taxation system, so I asked the HR administrator if there was any way to get the paid taxes back. She directed me to get my SSN ready and leave a copy of that to her. She told that they would manage the rest of the case and will contact me back in March.

[fast forward to March 2016]

I got an email from HR  administrator about 1042-S form, which would enable me to claim for tax return. She also couriered me 1042-S documents and now I had to proceed on my own to claim my refunds.

As far I could understand the tax were cut from two authorities:

  1. Federal govt. ($588)
  2. North Carolina state govt. ($242)

From the various sources I got to know that I could either do all the tax refund process on my own or I could opt for numerous tax services which help the non-resident people (like me) to prepare tax documents and we just have fill out details and do rest of formalities.

So going the easier way, I opted for Sprintax services. They charge you for filing tax to federal and state tax individually. I was fortunate to get free access code for federal tax from Duke International office which waived about $36, so I just had to pay $24 for state tax.

After the payment, Sprintax prepares set of document for you instantly [federal tax] and state tax document preparation takes about 2-3 days. Right now I am expected to fill out those documents and send it to US tax revenue department, after which they will refund my money. I will update about rest of the process later.

[UPDATE, August 8 2016]

I kept checking my refund status once in week from this website. The status was pending till now, but when I checked today, they have approved the refund and it says they would dispatch my refund by August 12 and I should receive it by September 9.


[UPDATE, August 13 2016]

I also checked state tax today and it says “Your refund check has been written. Please allow additional time for delivery.”. You can check state tax from this website.

Also the federal tax refund has been mailed to me and the website says “Your refund was mailed on August 12, 2016. If you do not receive your refund, please wait until September 9, 2016 to contact us as we are unable to take any further action until then.”.

So I hope to receive money soon.

[UPDATE, September 21 2016]

Finally I have received my check on this day. It was supposed to be delivered before September 9th 2016 (as it said on the IRS website) but it might have got delayed due to postal services. The check is issued from “United States Treasury” on my name and address which is valid for one year.

Just incase one doesn’t receive the refund for long period of time then the person can fill a form 3911 available on IRS website to track the status of the cheque.

  • The helpline number of the IRS is very supportive and it might take a lot of waiting time ranging from (0.5-1 hrs) but they would certainly clear your doubts.
  • One can call US for free via google hangout dialer.