US' strin­gent visa regime may spell doom for In­dian stu­dents

Youth Street News - - Youth News -

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.

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