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All you need to know about H-1B visa and new H-1B visa bills in a gist

H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows employers in the US to find foreigners to fill the job positions for which the employers couldn’t solicit any Americans with the required skill. 

Few key points to note about H-1B visa:

·         H-1B visa has a minimum salary cap of $60,000 and petitions of the employers offering salary above the minimum limit is only considered.

·         This visa allows the employee to stay 3 years in the US and the duration can be extended to another 3 years.

·         The employee can buy or sell a place, buy and win lottery and even apply for green card upon arrival to the US

·         H-1B visa holders can bring along their family under H-4 visa.

·         If the H-1B visa holder quits or is dismissed from the job, he/she should find another job or transfer to another non-immigrant status in order to stay in the US

·         Employers can apply for H-1B visa from April 1st every year.

·         Employers need get labor clearance and submit H-1B petition to United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS).

·         USCIS can accept only 65,000 applicants in regular H-1B quota and additional 20,000 applicants in H-1B master’s degree quota.

What are the proposed changes in the H-1B visa?

There are three bills proposed that aim at changing the existing H-1B visa. The bills proposed are given below:

·         High-skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 – The minimum salary cap is increased from $60,000 to $130,000 for H-1B visa. It also prioritizes small and startup employers’ annual H1B petitions to big companies and removes the per country cap for immigrant visas each fiscal year.

·         H-1B and L1 visas Reform Act of 2017 – This bill aims to reform the Immigration and Nationality Act to reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for foreigners working temporarily in the US.

·         100k bill – This bill removes the master’s degree cap on the number of visas available and also requires the annual salary threshold to rise from $60,000 to $100,000.

These bills have just been introduced in January, 2017 and still have a long way to go before they become the law.

No service tax on IRCTC e-bookings

E-tickets are now almost the same price as the tickets bought in old-fashioned, standing-in-a-long queue way, albeit the service charges of Rs. 10 charged by your bank for the e-service.

On February 1, 2017, Finance Minister announced the Union Budget for the year 2017. Surprisingly, the Railway Budget was also announced along with the Union Budget this time. Among other things, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that service tax levied on the e-tickets booked online through IRCTC is to be withdrawn.

Union Budget – IRCTC

Finance Minister has announced that the service tax levied on the e-tickets will be removed soon.

When one books an e-ticket on IRCTC platform, certain amount of service tax is levied for the booking. Currently IRCTC levies a service charge of Rs. 20 plus service tax for second/sleeper class and Rs.40 plus service tax for all the other class such as First, second and third class AC, Chair Car, 3E and First class, irrespective of the number of passenger booked on an e-ticket.

What is the extra amount you pay for the e-tickets?

When you book a train ticket online in IRCTC, you pay certain amount of extra charge for the service provided. Let’s consider an example for a clear understanding.   

EXAMPLE: Anil wants to book a train ticket from Chennai to Bangalore in second class sleeper. He finds that there is availability on IRCTC online platform and the e-ticket costs Rs. 150. When he books the e-ticket, the cost comes to Rs.180.23 (150+20+10+1.23). What is this extra amount?

The extra Rs. 20 is the service charge and Rs.1.23 is the service tax levied by the Indian Railway, Rs. 10 is the service charge levied by your bank for the e-service provided and. In case of cancellation, this extra amount (31.23 in Anil’s case) is not refunded hitherto.

As Finance Minister has announced, this service charge and the service tax (Rs.21.23 in Anil’s case) will soon be removed for the e-tickets booked. Hence while booking and upon cancellation, you save a significant amount. This move is in tandem with encouraging people to move towards a cashless economy. 

Best price comparison Apps in India

About a decade ago, a cost-conscious customer should search a variety of newspapers to find out which retail store offered the best price for the same exact product. But this is not the scenario today. Equipped with a smartphone, you can compare the price of a desired product not just in your local retail stores but worldwide as well – all literally at your fingertip. With the price comparison apps, you can shop smart and get the best price for the products you want to purchase. Here’s a list of Indian price comparison apps that can make your shopping way easier and cheaper. All the apps listed below have been downloaded more than a million times.


MySmartPrice was founded in 2010. It’s available as both website and mobile app. With this app you compare a range of products from electronics to personal care. Its pride includes being the only gadget price comparison website to make it to the list of top 100 Indian start-ups. 


Founded in 2012, this app gives you price comparison, coupons, deals, price drop alerts. This price discovery service app was developed by three youngsters from IIT-KGP – who after their own pangs of frustration on trying to find the best deals on iPod, invented this app. The team members have grown to 11 now and this app scans upto 50 websites including gaints like Amazon, Myntra, etc. 


Voodoo was founded in 2015. Voodoo is a digital assistant. This app integrates with all the other apps and when you are set to purchase an item from your phone Voodoo suggests the best deals available for that item, without any extra effort from the user.


Junglee was founded in 1996 and was acquired by Amazon in 1998. This app helps customers find and compare wide range of products for purchase.  Junglee.com website was launched in India in 2012. One can even post products which can be sold in one’s locality.

Bursting the myths about insurance

There are several myths shrouded around insurance that it is difficult to peel off these myths even today and people often shy away from insurance because of the misconceptions and prejudices that are either non-existent or may once have plagued insurance field but not in the present digital world.

“No one wants to think about dying or how it will affect your loved ones, but a policy could mean that no one else ends up encumbered with your debt,” Feldman says.

We understand that insurance may not be the most exciting financial topic and few people who have all their financial needs sorted out may not need insurance, but this post is to make sure that your decision on insurance is a well-informed one and not based off a myth about insurance. Below are some of the common myths about insurance:

1.      I’m single as pringle. Why would I need insurance?

If you’re single and don’t have any mortgages to leave unpaid if the worst happens to you, you probably won’t need insurance. Even if that is the case, putting together a simple funeral may cost a lot, given that even a coffin costs anywhere from 3,000 to 30,000 rupees. You may also want to consider the credit cards debts and unsecured loans that might fall on your next of kin’s shoulders if you’re not around to pay them back. Besides, it may be wise to purchase insurance when you’re young, when it’s easy and affordable, rather than getting insured when you’re old when it becomes pricier and sometimes uninsurable due to medical issues.

2.      Insurance is expensive!

Expensive is a relative term. What might be affordable to you, can be expensive to many. So, depending upon your income, you are sure to find an affordable insurance from the numerous options available. There’s no one-size-fits-all insurance. You can skim through the dozens of insurances available and choose the one that cater to your needs at policytray.com.

3.      Choices, choices everywhere!!

One could easily get baffled at the sheer number of options available. One might not have the time and expertise to read through all the insurance ever available and choose the perfect one. Instead you can opt for platforms such as CoverNest which makes your job easy and gives you the best options for you.

4.      It is difficult to claim insurance

Unless you’re making a fraudulent claim, you’ve nothing to worry about when it comes to insurance claims.

5.      Old people won’t need insurance

The primary purpose of life insurance is to replace the future income of a primary breadwinner. Two groups most likely to need it are middle-aged couples saving for retirement and parents of minor children - Forbes

Probability of dying is even greater when you’re old and insurance is almost vital when you’re an aging primary breadwinner of the family. Also, with increase in age, you’re more susceptible to health problems.

6.      I am a stay-at-home parent. Why would I need insurance?

A stay-at-home parent plays multiple role at home, serving as housekeeping, cook, laundry and grocery shopping – in short functioning as CEO at home. It can be very easy to overlook the financial contributions of a work-at-home spouse—that is, until the person is gone.  If you or your spouse decides to remain at home to take care for your children, don't forget that the contribution of the stay-at-home spouse can equal tens of thousands of dollars a year. The loss of value that accompanies upon losing a parent is irrevocable, but the financial hardship that entails the loss can be prevented by purchasing insurance.

7.      Investing is better than insurance

Some of the benefits of getting insured over investing are: you get a tax deferred growth; you can borrow against the cash value to buy a house or marry off your kids, without paying taxes; you will be covered in case you fall terminally ill; you will be covered till your death or as long as you pay the premiums.

8.    Insurance coverage at work is enough. Don’t need no more!

You may not be satisfied with the employment coverage due to many reasons: the plan may not cover your spouse enough, you may have had an increment which doesn’t carry on with the insurance or you may want a much higher or a cheaper insurance than the one that is being currently provided. Most importantly, it is wiser to go for an individual insurance over employment coverage as you’ll lose the insurance once you employment situation changes.   

Various modes of Digital payment

As India is moving towards a cashless economy, many developments are being made to promote digital payments. To achieve this we need to reach out to rural areas, where the knowledge of using digital transaction is lacking. Indian economy can become completely cashless, if and only if the rural India gains knowledge to use digital payments.

Now the question arises as to what different types of digital payment modes are there? Let’s look into the different types of payment modes:

1.     Aadhaar enabled payment system (AEPS): You only need your Aadhaar card or the aadhaar number for AEPS. This type of payment can be done in micro ATM or bank. You need to select the type of transaction and the bank and give your finger print for authentication and get the slip on completion of payment. With AEPS you can do

a.      Account balance

b.      Aadhar to Aadhar fund transfer

c.      Cash withdrawal

d.     Cash deposit

e.     Purchase at Fair Price Shops with AEPS


2.     Unified Payment Interface (UPI): You need a SMART phone with internet facility for UPI. Download the APP (bank or third party). Choose your unique id (aadhar, mobile no.) as virtual payment address (vpa) and select the bank. Give the bank details (for the first time). Set the M-PIN for transaction. Now you can send money and collect money on demand. You can pay your bills through UPI by scanning QR code provided by your retailer or accepting the demand request sent by your retailer. To know more on AEPS and UPI click here.


3.     Credit cards/Debit cards: This is one of the easiest modes for payment. You can buy anything anywhere and how much ever you want, within the card limit. How to use it? Simple! You just need to swipe-in the card in the swiping machine or the EDC or the POS machines.

Credit card varies from debit card. Debit card allows you to spend the money which you have in your bank account. Whereas credit card allows you to borrow money, up to a certain limit from your card provider. The only problem is the safety of the card. Anyone can use the card if lost.

4.     Payment banks: Payment banks were authorized by RBI and are effective from November 2014. These are just like banks but restricted to receiving deposits only. From these payment banks you can pay for your bill, do recharge, etc. They also give interest for the money deposited. You can only deposit up to Rs. One lakh in these payment banks and not more than that. To know more about payment banks click here.


5.     Internet banking: Payments through internet banking is also one of the ways. Here you are redirected to your online banking portal and from there you can pay the bills or recharge, etc.

The only offline method for digital payment is through the usage of credit/debit cards. But why is this not widely used?

The reason being the requirement for using the card that is, you need EDC or POS machine for swiping the card. Can a roadside/platform vegetable vendor afford to have POS machine? Or other small scale business men afford the POS/EDC machine?

Paytm has come up with an idea with which even a small scale vendor can go cashless!! Paytm has introduced a new payment method which does not require internet connection.

6.     Through toll free number: Paytm has introduced payment through toll free number. How can this be done? First you need to be registered with paytm. This can be done through mobile APP or in the paytm website. Second, after registering your mobile number with the paytm, call 1800-1800-1234 from the registered mobile number and set a 4 digit paytm PIN which will be used for the transaction.

            Now for payment, you need to enter the recipient’s mobile number, amount and your Paytm PIN to successfully transfer the money from your Paytm wallet to another Paytm wallet.

Where does your Tax money go?

Many of the people don’t know the use of paying taxes. The people don’t know how or where are these collected tax money goes? Also they wonder as to why they should pay tax when they do not get any direct benefits. Do they get or do they not?

Many of us have a gist as to what happens when we don’t pay tax and thus many try to exploit the loop-holes present in the tax payment system. Now the next question is who are the people refraining from paying necessary tax? Is it the common man or a business man or the corporate! What are the odds of these people paying the exact tax amount for their actual earning?

Do these people realize the consequence? Maybe, Maybe Not! Do you know of the consequence? To sum up the consequence we can say that the government may go into debt for spending more than what they receive. They may think why should they care if the government goes into debt? It’s not their concern is what many think. But on a long run they will be forced to make it their concern. How so?

Well for that we need to understand why and how the tax money is been spent?

The expenditures made by the government are:


a.     Revenue expenditure

b.     Capital expenditure


a.     Revenue expenditure

b.     Capital expenditure

What does the expenditure cover? It mostly covers the need for Social Services like Education, Health, Broadcasting etc., Economic Services like, Agriculture, Industry, Power, Transport, Communications, Science & Technology, etc. , pension, police, defence services, loans to state and union government, etc.

Some of the expenditure in the year 2015 on

A.    NON-plan expenditure are:

1.   Interest Payments and Prepayment Premium – Rs. 4,42,620 crores

2.     Defence Services – Rs. 1,43,236 crores

3.     Subsidies –Rs. 2,57,801 crores, Etc.

B.     Plan expenditure

1.      Central Plan – Rs. 1,33,245 crores

2.     State Plans – Rs. 1,96,051 crores

3.     Union Territory Plans- Rs. 5,708 crores, Etc.

For detailed Expenditure of the government Click here.

To know the expenditure in a gist Click here.

The revenue receipts shows how much the government got for that financial year from the tax. It differs from the budget plan outlaid. To know more on Revenue receipt Click here.

These are expenditures for the development of our nation and thus we develop along with the nation.

From these documents what we can see is that the government spends more than what it receives. Pretty obvious huh! So to reduce the debt, the government is trying it’s hardest to bring out the unaccounted money and is making plans and rules to fill in the loop-holes of tax payment system. So let’s help the government and ourselves by paying the exact tax amount for our true income.


Airtel Payment Bank – How is it different from a conventional bank?

Airtel became the first payment bank to be operational in India. RBI has announced licenses for 11 entities in July 2015 as payment banks. Airtel started its operations from Rajasthan through its customer support center’s Airtel Express. Airtel will spread the operations, phase by phase to pan India by March 2017.

What are Payment Banks?

RBI has formed a committee headed by Nachiket Mor in September 2013, for recommendations to ease banking system and make banking system more convenient. Recommendations included formation of “Payment Banks”.
Payment banks work similar to banks, but without assets. Payment banks were authorized to take deposits, but restricted from giving loans. Initially payment banks can take maximum of Rs.1 Lakh as deposit from a customer. The limit will be revised after 18 months of operations.


Key Takeaways:

1.     Any individual with Aadhar number can open a payment account, even if the customer is not an Airtel Subscriber.

2.     Account enrollment being paperless, customer need to provide Aadhaar number with finger prints to open an account.

3.     Account will be opened within an hour based on the facility limitations.

4.     Payment banks can issue ATM, Debit cards for withdrawal of money. But, Airtel Payment bank initially abstained from issuing them.

5.     Max limit of Airtel payment bank is Rs.1 Lakh. Deposits and withdrawals can be done from any Airtel Express showroom. Currently operational only in Rajasthan.

6.     Current accounts along with savings accounts can be taken.

7.     Airtel payment bank provides 7.25% interest rate on deposits which is very high compared to conventional banks. Most of the Public sector banks pegged interest rates to 4%, which private sector banks like kotak offering 6% with deposits more than Rs.1 lakh.

8.     Loans and credit cards are restricted to be issued from payment banks.

9.     11 firms were announced eligible as payment banks out of 41 applicants. Out of these, three have surrendered their licenses. First one being "Chalomandalam Distribution Services", then "Dilip Shanghvi, Sun Pharmaceuticals" and the latest, "Tech Mahindra".

List of entities with payment bank license:

1.   Aditya Birla Nuvo

2.   Airtel M Commerce Services

3.   Department of Posts

4.   FINO PayTech

5.   National Securities Depository

6.   Reliance Industries

7.   Vijay Shekhar SharmaPaytm

8.   Vodafone M-Pesa

Where shall we use Old 500 and 1000 notes?

While 1000 Rupee old notes are restricted from usage everywhere, only 500 Rupee old notes can be used to avail necessary services. This usage will be applicable till 15th December 2016, until new set of rules were announced.

Given below is the list of services availed by Old Rs.500 notes:

1.     Mobile pre-paid recharges up to Rs.500 per transaction.

2.     Consumer Cooperative Stores for purchases till Rs.5000 at a time.

3.     Government hospitals and Pharmacies.

4.     Government run Milk booths.

5.     Petrol pumps

6.     State and central government bill payments.

7.     Utility bill payments like water and power bills, along with arrears payments are acceptable.

8.     Toll gates from 3rd Dec 2016 to 31st Dec 2016. Toll gates are free for usage till 3rd Dec.

9.     Railway/Metro rail/Air ticket booking at the counter.

10.   Railway Catering services

11.   LPG gas cylinders

12.  Seeds at state-owned outlets

13.  Entry tickets of monuments under Archaeological Survey of India

14.  Payment of School fees up to Rs.2000 per student in Central Government, State Government, Municipality and local body schools.

15.  Foreign citizens can exchange up to Rs.5000 per week

16.  Payments towards court fee.

17.   Crematoria and burial grounds