Trump’s H1B Executive Order Causes Confusion Among Indian Students

Ever since his campaigning days, current President of the United States, Donald Trump has been talking about reducing the number of immigrants to America. This included increased job preference to Americans and cutting down the number of approval on H1B visas. Ever since Trump has been planning this policy, it has sent out a panic of sorts among Indian students studying in the US and students who plan to go for courses in American Universities.

This has also caused a certain amount of distress among companies who send engineers and other qualified workers on the H1B visas for projects to their American offices. Also, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pvt Ltd, the number of Indians in the US searching for jobs in India has gone up more than 10-fold between December and March.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, employers seeking H-1B work visas for 2018 declined for the first time in five years. The H1B is a non-immigrant visa allowing people to seek employment which are often given to skilled workers.

As per the executive order signed by Trump, these visas should never be used to replace Americans and should be given only to the highest paid and highest skilled applicants. Having to pay American employees a higher salary is what makes companies prefer applicants from countries like India.

So, has the student community facing jitters on event of this order? Number of students applying to US Universities have definitely gone down. While Institutions maintain that there is no cause for concern, parents and students are worried. Students who aren’t enrolled in the bigger league universities worry of being hit harder. According to sources, they are also concerned of possible reversal of OPT (Optional Practical Training) that require students in STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) programs to stay in the US for three more years.

Currently there seems to be confusion regarding status of students currently in the US and those preparing to go for further studies there. According to reports, there’s been a 15% drop among Indian students applying to American Universities for post graduate courses.

“Among the students’ who have already applied to universities in USA, only a minority of students have changed their plans or have expressed second thoughts after President Trump’s proposed curbs on H1 Visas. Majority of the students are still keen on USA, and they do not think about a second option because according to them there’s nothing greater than the American dream. But among the students who are planning for next year, a lot of them have expressed concerns regarding job prospects as rules might get more rigid,” says Manoj P, CEO of Global Education Consultants, a Kochi-based education consultant firm.

According to a faculty member at IMS, Kochi a training centre that prepares students for GRE and GMAT, says, “We have seen a minor shift after the changes in H1B rules, mainly due to parental concern and students now prefer preparing for tests that will help them get into universities in Australia and Germany over US. Wherein, actually there is no cause for worry, if you are applying for a university in a bigger league.”

Another education consultant from Kochi who didn’t wish to be named, says, “The mood is of fear and confusion among students wanting to apply to universities in the US. The number of applicants have surely dropped.”

Revnath Challagalla, a student of Psychology who passed out last year from College of William and Mary says, “Trump was elected soon after I graduated. So you could say, that I was a bit concerned, but had a close save!”

Manoj M, a post graduate student at University of Florida says, “There’s some concern about students as far as post graduation job prospects are concerned. But, actually there isn’t much to worry about as the rule targets only less skilled workers. In fact, it might be for the good if executed properly. It’ll eliminate companies which apply in mass for H1-B Visa, thereby bettering chances of better skilled people who actually need it.”

Trump’s Buy American, Hire American agenda is causing some confusion among Indian students for now.  Will the policy be a decision for the better or worse? We will have to wait and watch!

Cover image courtesy: Michael Vadon, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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