The United States has made a comeback as the most preferred study destination among students, especially for the ones from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) background. According to 2013-14 statistics, a record number of 866,052 international students now study in the US.
The number of F1 Visa Holders for 2013-14 stood at 886,052 compared to 819,644 in 2012-13. Students holding a US F1 Visa are increasing year after year. It was a mere 110,000 in 2001 and considering the number now, US has issued more than 700,000 visas in the past 14 years.
Most students come from China, closely followed by India, and then by South Korea. All these students together spent a total of $26.8 billion, of which accommodation, fees and living expenses took the major share of their investment in the US.
International students are allowed to take Optional Practical Training (OPT) after their studies. However, that does not guarantee a full-time job or a visa status change on completion of OPT period, which is 6 months to 1 year in most cases. Upon completion of the OPT period, most students have to return home dejected for not finding a job leading to H1-B visa.
Therefore, the Obama administration is taking into consideration the future of international students and their contribution to the US economy has suggested major reforms for STEM international students in the Executive Action in December.
The reform would give temporary residence to students on completion of OPT, thereafter making them eligible for green card after three years of related work experience and tax history to the US government. So international students do not have to go home upon completion of their studies and OPT period, and also need not depend on employers to sponsor their H1-B application.
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