US' stringent visa regime may spell doom for Indian students
Telugu students, who form the majority of the pupil going for higher studies in the US from India, are in for a devastating situation if American president Donald Trump goes ahead with his strict visa regime, including on H-1B visas that are availed by natives here.
As per reports, close to 40,000 students from the two Telugu states—andhra Pradesh and Telangana—are either currently enrolled in US universities or are waiting for H-1B visas, having completed the OPT period, or the Optical Practical training.
If banking sources are to be believed, as much as Rs 7,500 crore of loans have been granted to these 40,000 students, mostly from the middle income groups, in the last couple of years. As per present US visa norms, a graduate or under-graduate student in the US is allowed to work during the OPT period. The erstwhile Barack Obama had extended the OPT period from 24 to 36 months, to allow students to work for a greater period and help them pay back the loans.
If president Trump scales down the OPT period even moderately,
this is going to financially impact the students and cut down their capability to pay back loans. In the last two successive years, in 2015 and 2016, India's share of the 65,000 H-1B visas issued by the US for skilled workforces across the world was 20,000 or roughly one/third. Of the 70% techies from India who work in the US, 40% are from the Telugu states who have just stepped out of their campuses and are in their OPT period. There is a big question mark on how many of them will qualify to continue working in the US if visa norms are drastically readjusted.
Already, these Indians under the OPT system are not paid well. In fact they are generally referred to as forming the part of what is called "code cooles" in the IT sector, and there average annual remuneration is less than US$ 60,000. Any further dent in their prospects of earning will land them in an economic catastrophe as they have huge loans to pay back.
It is believed as many as 25,000 students left from Hyderabad from 2015 to 2016. At an average, they have availed an education loan of around Rs 15 lakh from banks and other lending agencies. The total Indian loan burden from students studying in the US, or waiting for their H-1B visas, is said to be to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore. And that is only from the two Telugu states that send the maximum number of students to US to study and then join the IT workforce there. Many of them have not even got their OPT permit. And there is no guarantee that under the new, stringent visa norms in the US, they will be eligible for one. Any cut in the OPT period is also likely to spell doom on them and their families, who have the obligation to pay monthly EMIS in the rune of Rs 30,000 or more.