The Ivy League colleges like Harvard, Stanford, MIT are not just the prominent universities where some of the top industrialists have studied and honed their skills like Azim Premji, Raghuraman Rajan etc. While these people are the ones whom you encounter regularly in headlines there are lakhs of lesser known Indian students who are now seeking to find a berth in 4000 odd colleges and universities across the US each year on f1 visa opt. The figures stand high and there has been a jump in the current years until last year.
This year there has been no such sudden spikes thanks to the strong anti-immigration rhetoric by the US president recently and the international admission season has kick started in most of the campuses although the numbers won’t be changing much and are not available until fall when the students will join for their classes. However, there are reports that 40% of the colleges have seen a decline in the application forms. It was also found out that students and the families have now become cautious because the country has become less welcoming following the election of the new President and his policies.
However, the US government agencies are still upbeat and many of the US institutions are still able to attract so many Indian Students because the quality of education is still more superior and is offering some of the best fresher jobs for opt students. Since last year there are several campuses who are running the “Everyone is welcome here” campaign as an outreach to global students to not just make them feel home but to also assure the students that there are many more communities there who are dedicated to them.
Even the top brass of the universities is coming up with public statements to reassure them that international students are always welcome. Some of the main reasons for facing this kind of uncertainty is that us h1b visawhich is given to foreign students to work in the US after they complete their education is on the radar and the uncertainty it faces now in the US. Many top universities are also tapping into their alumni networks to guide students overseas.
There are wide claims that nothing has changed as far as the visas for international students are concerned as the students who are in STEM field have an optional practical training (OPT) period after they complete their course to get a job up to 3 years where they can stay back and get professional experience. Also, one very important point to be noted here is the impact of the demonetization in India which resulted in many students finding difficulty in arranging for the finances and this could, in turn, mean fewer applications and higher visa refusals.
The key trigger for overseas education for most of the students to earn an American degree at a low cost and recover the investment over time. Indian students mainly concentrate on engineering and computer related programs in colleges that offer lower tuition and cost of living options. The three year OPT and subsequent H1-B are now critical and are being carefully considered now as recovering the investment in education has become tough and given to the recent discrimination and racism in certain regions even some of the top institutions are now finding it tough to attract foreign students.
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