Having never moved out of South India till 2012, I had an opportunity to come to US in September 2012 as a newly wedded wife on F2 Visa (Dependent of Student). My husband was doing his Post- doctoral program in MIT. Qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in May 2012 in India, I had an idea of doing CPA in USA which is similar to Indian CA.
Soon as I landed in US, I had to face lots of challenges in the well developed hi-tech country both in terms of my social and personal life. Adding to it, my plan of clearing CPA also had lots of issues. The course of Chartered Accountancy is one of the most prestigious courses in India but it not recognized here in US and like every other commerce graduate I had to go through the pain of evaluating my foreign education with the agencies identified by states. The procedure for enrolling in CPA exam is itself difficult. Every state has different education criterion and before enrolling you have to meet the requirements otherwise you will not be eligible to take the CPA exam. The first and foremost step is to identify the state that suits you the best according to your education qualifications. Every state has different criterion for eligibility, so you have to decide on the basis of your own research. The following link has the eligibility criterion for every state. http://nasba.org/exams/cpaexam/.
Once the state is identified, the next procedure of evaluating the foreign educational transcript begins. These agencies evaluate whether you have completed the required coursework for the state you are applying. These agencies will directly send evaluation report to the state you applied. If found eligible, you are ready to take the exam, otherwise you have to take accounting courses in the community college. The process for enrolling for CPA is time consuming; it will take on an average of 3-5 months. Sometimes it becomes frustrating as states keep on changing the requirements. Though it was depressing, I still applied for evaluation to NASBA evaluation agency for the state of Massachusetts to find out my eligibility to sit for the exam since I also had a bachelor’s degree in commerce. The response from the evaluation center was also affirmative as they asked me to proceed for my exam application. It was a motivation for me to start my serious preparation for the exams. At the fag end of my preparation, I applied for the exams but my application got rejected. The reason for the negative reply was the requirement of four years bachelor’s degree whereas I had a three years bachelor’s degree in India. That response made me very nervous and discouraging especially after having done two months preparation for my exams. Still, without losing heart, I have applied for another state through FACS (Foreign Academic Credential Service) for the state of Montana where there is no bachelor’s degree requirement. I am waiting for a positive reply from them while keeping my fingers crossed.
Apart from the urge to do CPA, as a non work-permit holder, I also had an interest in volunteering and freelancing. Very recently my spouse has incorporated a start-up on his own and hence without doing much of research work in freelancing, I voluntarily started exploring my skills and knowledge in his company. It is a mutual benefit for both the company and me since they were also in need of an accountant. With a new and different environment, I find my work to be very interesting and challenging. As of now my life is filled with lot of uncertainties but I hope I am flexible enough for the upcoming changes and challenges so as to utilise my skill and knowledge to the fullest extent.
Few learning for the spouses on dependent visa:
1. Have multiple options regarding your career and education before landing US and don’t stick onto only one.
2. “Patience produces roses”. This is true especially if you are in a situation as mentioned above. Being aggressive and in a hurry may not help.
3. Finally enjoy many firsts in US. Relish exciting experiences till your career life gets settled and before it becomes a routine and mechanised life.