Home » Indians Getting Fed Up Of Trump’s H-1B, OPT, Green Card Moves Eye Canada

Indian students are slowly getting over their fascination with Donald Trump’s H-1B, OPT, Green Card difficult procedures and eyeing a move to Canada.

The number of Indian students enrolled in graduate-level engineering and computer science courses at American universities dropped by more than twenty-five (25) per cents between 2016-17 and 2018-19, according to government’s analysis on data by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).

The critical factors for this decline are “more restrictive immigration and international student policies under the Trump administration and the challenge of obtaining green cards in the United States,” the research organization focused on public policy impact on trade and immigration said in a report released on June 8.

This decline is a massive blow to the entire international tech student population in the United States, as Indians form an outsized proportion of the group.

America’s loss

In a letter dated June 2, twenty-one (21) members of the US Congress underlined that international students and their families contributed roughly about $41 billion to the US economy in 2018-2019 alone, despite making up just only 5.5% of overall US college enrollments. This group subsidises tuitions for many domestic students.

Moreover, “as a source of research assistants, graduate students assist professors to carry out research and retain top faculty,” the NFAP report said. “Without the ability to execute high-level research, many renowned professors would move on to other careers, which would diminish American universities as a global centre for science.”

While the United States is losing out on Indian talent, its neighbour opens its doors.

US reconsidering post-graduate work programme OPT, while Canada gains

NFAP’S research reveals that the share of Indians in Canada more than doubled between the academic years 2016-17 and 2018-19.

Unlike America’s hardline approach, Canada’s policies have been attracting students. In June 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the Student Direct Stream (SDS) for India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Students from these four countries registered in any of the 1,400-plus post-secondary institutions in Canada can fast-track their applications, as long as they pass English-language tests and prove they are financially sufficient.

While the US has suspended immigration due to COVID-19 pandemic and is reconsidering the post-graduate work programme Optional Practical Training (OPT), Canada isn’t letting coronavirus outbreak get in its way.

As of May 14, foreign students with valid study permits in Canada from before March 18, 2020, have been excluded from the travel restrictions contingents on passing health checks and following isolation protocols.

Not just Indian students but even working professionals from India have been flocking to Canada as Trump’s anti-immigration rhetorics builds up. Several Indian tech talents have been swapping Silicon Valley for the more immigrant-friendly Canada.

“Canada is benefiting greatly from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US destinations, largely because of the difficulty of obtaining OPT and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable pathway to US permanent residence,” said Peter Rekai, president and founder of the Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP. The country even offers express entry for highly skilled immigrants.

Moreover, Canada allows permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship after six years. Indian permanent residents admitted into the country increased to over 117% between fiscal years 2016 and 2019, NFAP found.

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