As Donald Trump, the new US president, is planning on withdrawing extension of OPT (Optional Practical Training) for students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) category, English-speaking countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia and others may benefit as highly-skilled Indians may make these countries their destinations for higher education in the future.
Earlier, OPT would let foreign students in STEM disciplines for staying on in the US after they completed their studies for a period of six to12 months with their student visas. This also allowed them to scout for jobs or to apply to study further or bide their time till OPT period elapsed. In fact, the previous administration under Barack Obama, former President, was looking to extend the tenure of OPT to over three years, but couldn’t because of a shortage of time.
Things have, however, taken a different turn now, with Trump administration reportedly looking to annul extension under OPT. Therefore, students from India may have to get secure jobs before embarking on a study in the US or look towards other countries like Canada, New Zealand or Australia which still have liberal rules in place. But Business Standard quotes experts as saying that the latter scenario is more likely as Canada and Australia offers an extension for students for a period of two to four years to search for jobs.
This measure will undoubtedly affect Indians studying in America. Their strength is said to have reached 165,000 in the academic year 2015-16 – a growth of 35 percent compared the previous year, according to the Open Doors Report of 2016. The report says that India was the second largest source country for foreign students in the US. In fact, 13 percent of the foreign students in the US are Indians.
Narayanan Ramaswamy, of KPMG in India, said that this move will make many international students rethink of studying in the US, making the country less cosmopolitan in the bargain. He was of the view that hereafter universities in Canada, UK and Australia will attract more students from India.
Approximately 65 percent of the Indian students who head to study in the US universities are enrolled in STEM disciplines. And 75 percent of these are said to utilise OPT every year.
Bala Ramalingam, founder director an overseas education consulting firm, was quoted by the news daily as saying that education consultancies are already witnessing a surge in enquiries for countries like Canada and Australia, while there has been a steep fall in the number of students wanting to go to the US.
Vibha Kagzi, founder and CEO of ReachIvy an education consulting company, feels, however, that annulment of extension of OPT will not have any impact on students going to institutions of repute such as MIT, Princeton, Stanford or Yale as people who graduate out of these are most likely to land up jobs. But those going to ter-2 or tier-3 universities cannot be assured of the same.
If you are looking to study in the US, contact Y-Axis, India’s top immigration consulting firm, to apply for a student visa from one of its 30 offices located all over the globe.