Following years of growth, the number of Indian graduate students applying to US universities in 2017 has fallen by nearly one-fifth. One of the reasons behind this big dip in popularity is the increasingly difficult requirements needed to secure the sought-after H-1B visa.
Restriction after restriction has been placed on the popular visa program since US President Donald Trump took office and signed the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, seeking to end the “theft of American prosperity”, which he said had been brought on by low-wage immigrant labor.
Along with decreased interest in its graduate programs is the increasing rates of rejection for H-1B petitions over the last few years, turning foreign talent away from what used to be the dream destination among Indian students.
America’s loss is turning out to be both India and Canada’s gain.
The analysis found that by the end of March 2017, approximately 7,000 US-based Indians were seeking jobs back home, a significant increase from only around 600 in December 2016.
And as other countries – including Australia, New Zealand, the UK and even Singapore – close their borders to immigrant talent, countries with friendly immigration policies are reaping the rewards.
One of the most popular destinations for foreign talent now is Canada, favoured for its simpler and friendlier immigration policies.To apply for a work permit in Canada, foreign-born graduates can choose the more straightforward Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP), with a more direct pathway than the lottery system the H-1B visa uses.
Permanent residents can then apply to become Canadian citizens after residing and working in the country for six years. In contrast, the quest for a green card in the US can take years and leaves many immigrants in limbo.
As if these factors aren’t appealing enough, the Canadian government announced this June that foreign students from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines can now fast-track their study permit applications. Through the new Student Direct Stream, students from these countries enrolled in any of the 1,400-plus designated learning institutes in Canada will benefit from faster processing time, so long as they can prove they have the financial resources and language skills required.