US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) restricting the entry of non-immigrant workers into the country will not have a direct impact on foreign students, provided the US creates an adequate number of jobs.

Students who study in the US are generally on an F-1 visa and take the Optional Practical Training (OPT) route to seek internship opportunities in companies there. OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.

“In the EO, there is no mention of the F-1 visa or OPT. Students who are working on OPT, it doesn’t impact them as well,” said Sumeet Jain, Co-founder & Higher Education expert at Yocket, an online higher education services provider. Others like professor P Arumugam -- Dean of International Relations IIT Roorkee, are of the view that students keen on higher studies won’t be affected. “The fact that the suspension is only until December 31 is also an important criterion, since we do not expect any international movement until the threat of Covid-19 is contained to an extent,” he said.

One of the reasons President Trump left students untouched could be attributed to the number of students who go to the US to study and India ranks second after China when it comes to students studying in the US. Per 2019 data, around 2 lakh Indian students went to study in US universities, a 2.9 per cent increase over 2018/19. “ Institutions like MIT are completely dependent on foreign students,” said Prashanthi Reddy, an immigration lawyer.

So, will it impact students who aspire to work for Google or Microsoft? “It only affects them if they leave the country and try to apply for an H-1 visa from India. It does not affect them if they file a change of status from F-1 to H-1 in the US,” said Reddy.

The US president’s order is aimed at tackling the overall unemployment rate in the United States, which has nearly quadrupled between February and May, as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Trump is betting on the fact that by stopping the skilled workforce he can reverse the trend by getting locals employment. The question is are companies ready to hire,” said the CEO of a company based in New Jersey. Students are factoring in the US jobs scenario and moves like this could result in them not wanting to opt for study in the US. Unemployment claims last week were 1.5 million and around 722 retail stores have filed for bankruptcy.

“Currently the job scenario is bad but it will be reversed once demand comes back,” said Nitin Kumar, CEO, Appnomic Systems, a Silicon Valley-based company.

Then there is the fact that in the past few years, product companies aren’t actually hiring too many people for overseas placements. “Since most of the companies have their offices located in India, they are hiring for local placements rather than overseas placements,” said Raghu Reddy, Head of the Software Engineering Research Centre at International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad.

social-fb COMMENT NOW