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  Finance | Financial advice | Business advice | Immigration

Francis Vayalumkal
By Francis Vayalumkal

People tend to believe that a certain type of mortgage product is better than the other. I am often asked the question: “Which is the best kind of mortgage?” The answer: There is no one correct answer. Deciding the type of mortgage that will best fulfill your needs can be difficult. There are so many types of loans and different term lengths. Your choice is extremely important and can take time and effort to research. While often neglected by home buyers, a little research before choosing your mortgage can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

There are several elements of a loan that should be analyzed. While one of these elements may suggest a type of loan, another may call for a different type. You must weigh each ingredient separately and collectively. You will find that your answers to the questions below will ultimately determine the type of mortgage that best fits your needs.

How long do you plan to stay in this home?

Five years? 10 years? 30 years? The length of time you will be in the home will certainly play a part in determining which loan to apply for. If you only plan to be in the home for 5–7 years or less, you should seriously consider an adjustable rate loan. If you intend on staying 20–30 years, a fixed rate mortgage may be right for you.

How much risk are you willing to accept?

If you are the type of buyer that needs to know exactly what you will be paying each month for the term of the mortgage, a fixed-rate mortgage will fulfill this need. But the fixed-rate loan also will net a higher interest rate. If you are willing to take some risk of fluctuations in the interest rate, you may be able to receive a lower interest rate. However, the recent increases in short-term interest rates have brought the adjustable rates close to the fixed-rate mortgages.

What are your income expectations?

Plan for the future. Do you anticipate a gradual or dramatic increase in your income in the next few years? If you expect a big increase, a graduated payment mortgage may be best for you.

How much cash do you have available for upfront costs?

If you have the resources, you may want to make a larger down payment to lower your monthly payment. However, by keeping a higher monthly payment, you might be able to shorten the term of the loan to a 15-year loan to pay it off quicker.

Keep in mind that you’ll have closing costs and fees to pay in addition to your down payment. If you don’t have much cash saved for your upfront costs, don’t despair. You may need to accept a higher monthly payment or even lower your monthly obligation by choosing an adjustable rate mortgage.

In addition to choosing a type of loan, you also must consider which lender to use. Once again, several factors will influence your decision.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

This is most likely the best way to make an "apples-to-apples" comparison of lenders. The APR reflects the cost of credit on a yearly rate and includes any points and fees in addition to the interest rate.

Interest Rate

Find out the rate the lender will commit and how long the lender will guarantee it. Get any commitments in writing. As with any transaction, if it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t exist.

Points and fees

These factors will vary greatly. Look out for hidden fees. Make sure the lenders disclose all fees; ask what they charge and what is included and what is not.

Loan approval

Both approval and funding time should be considered. You don’t want to lose a prospective home because your lender takes weeks to fund your loan. Find out how your lender’s process works. Do they have to send your file somewhere else for processing and underwriting? Do they do it locally? What is their time line for each part of the process? How easy is it to get hold of your loan officer or loan processor? You will find these are important matters as you get into the home-buying process.

Lender reputation

Don’t rely on solely someone else’s recommendation. You, not your friend, must feel comfortable with your lender. If you do feel good about your lender and trust him/her, it will be much easier to trust his/her advice on what kind of mortgage will best suit your needs.

Francis Vayalumkal is a loan officer at Market Street Mortgage and can be reached at (813) 971-7555 or via e-mail at

Finance | Financial advice | Business advice | Immigration

Dilip Patel


In the past few months, a lot of attention has focused on the fact that the supply of Green Cards has been far short of the demand, especially for applicants born in India. In this article, I will explain some of the basics of the Green Card supply-and-demand situation in the context of employment-based immigration.

There is a limit on the number of Green Cards which can be processed each year. The status of the supply and demand can be seen in the monthly Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. State Department. If your Green Card application is impacted by the supply problem, you should monitor the Visa Bulletin every month. You can see the Visa Bulletin on the Internet at or, you can search for Visa Bulletin using Google.

For November 2005, Indian-born applicants can be issued Green Cards ONLY if their Priority Date is earlier than the date listed below for their Preference category:

EB 1 - First Preference (extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives): Aug. 1, 2002;

EB 2 - Second Preference (exceptional ability aliens and advanced degree professionals): Nov. 1, 1999;

EB 3 - Third Preference (skilled workers and professionals): Jan. 1, 1998; (Other workers) Oct. 1, 2000.

Your “Priority Date” is the date your Labor Certification was filed, or, in the preference categories where Labor Certification is not required, your Priority Date is the date when the Petition was filed.

It is impossible to predict how the wait list will progress – it can move forward and backward. Visa availability can even run out for parts of the year and be “unavailable.”

The supply (often called visa numbers) must be available (or “current”) for your Priority Date in order to apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS), and if your AOS application is already filed and pending, it cannot be approved until a visa number is available.

If you have already filed your AOS application and are waiting for approval, you need to be prepared for a long wait. The good news is that you should be able to get work and travel permits, and if your AOS application has been filed and pending for more than six months, you may be able to change jobs and still continue the process. Make sure to review your situation with your immigration attorney before taking any action.

If you have not filed your AOS application, you will need to maintain (and extend if necessary) your current status (H, L etc) at least until the priority date becomes current and you file the AOS application.

Note that while the place of birth (not citizenship) determines the country for quota chargeability purposes, married applicants can often choose the country of birth of either spouse for the supply. For example, if you were born in India and your EB 2 Priority Date is December 2004, you would not be able to file or get the AOS approved at this time. However, if your wife was born in Africa or England, you could apply using her birthplace because visas are currently available for those countries.

The current outlook for Indian-born employment-based immigrants starting the process is bleak. The same is true for persons born in China, Mexico and Philippines. The only good news is that the supply for registered professional nurses and physical therapists is still current because of additional supplies created by recent laws. Employers and others adversely impacted by the Green Card supply situation should lobby their senators and Congressional representatives for a change in the law to provide relief. An easy way to do so is provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Visit their Web site at and click on the “Contact Congress” button. All it takes is two minutes – sample letters and all information is provided to make this easy. Every letter can make a difference.

Dilip Patel is a Board Certified Immigration Attorney. He is the founder of the Dilip Patel, P.A. law firm ( and has practiced business and immigration law in the Tampa Bay area since 1990. He can be reached at (727) 712 0066 or by email at

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