After months of denial reality sets in; Indian students now fear the US

For the past 3 months since the US Elections 2016, Indian students were pretty persistent about their US dreams, irrespective of the forthcoming President (Read here). Despite Donald Trump’s consistent rallies to put in place stringent orders against immigrants in the US, Indian students seemed undeterred in their decision to fly abroad. However, recent events have led to a dramatic change in such opinions. The executive order against immigrants, proposed by Trump yesterday, January 31, has brought sudden apprehensions for many US aspirants. After months of living in denial, reality has finally set in for Indian students as H1B visas are likely to be capped and rebuked.

Tina Das, an MS in US 2017 aspirant, says, “I am now rethinking all about my MS plan in US. If I cannot secure a good job there after my degree, then how will I repay my huge student loan?” Another aspirant, Alisha Dutta, has said, “Looking at the current scenario, I think it is too risky to travel to the US. I cannot possible think of repaying the huge educational loan amount with an Indian salary. I would suggest other aspirants now aim for countries like Canada or New Zealand that have good opportunities in higher studies and are much lower risk to immigrants.”

One striking point of Trump’s proposed executive order is the salary floor required by immigrants to acquire an H1B visa. According to the order, only those immigrants earning more than $130K per annum (approx Rs 87.8 lakhs per annum) will be permitted to work in the US under an H1B visa. This salary floor, apparently is too high for freshers even from top institutes like MIT or Stanford, to earn through campus placements. Rahat ER, a 2017 aspirant to the US, says, “Trump is expecting a salary so high to be offered to a fresher and that too with the policy of Americans getting priority for jobs and leftover roles being filled by foreign students. He could have instead just said ‘no jobs for foreign students’, and it would have meant the same.”

The H1B clamp down order, if passed by the Senate, will put to waste all efforts and money spent in studying in the US by Indian students in the past several years. Bharathi Katta, a nutritionist in India applying to the US spoke about the troubles her friends and family are now facing in the US. “Some of my cousins were working as waiters after class to fund part of their education in a US university. They are now finding it difficult to acquire campus placements as well as to work part-time in the US. Most of them have now decided to return to India with zero ROI on their US education.”

For students now planning to apply to the US for 2017 batches, fellow aspirants on various social media forums are advising them against it. Sourabh Dutta, a US 2018 aspirant, says, “Do not aim for Fall ’17 batch now. Wait for a few months and see what happens in the second half of the year. Maybe Fall ’18 would be a time to act upon, or else, there are many good universities in other countries across the world.”

Others have flooded facebook with rampant concerns about stalled applications and visa rejections despite acquiring confirmed admission in a US university (See images below). Those who were earlier confident about their US dreams to be untouched during Trump’s rule, are now changing plans and advising their peers to halt their applications temporarily.

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