As an international student should you apply to universities in President Trump’s America?

With the election of Donald J. Trump, the most controversial candidate ever to ascend to the American presidency, there have been concerns that international students could be deterred or restricted from studying in the US. And to alleviate this worry, higher educational institutions across the US are trying to stem reactions, and reassure the student and applicant community.


The J-1 Visa Conundrum

Mr Trump made a number of immigration-related policy proposals or statements throughout his 17-month campaign that have possible implications for international students on F-1 visas and those enrolled in the DACA program. At one point early in the campaign, in a policy paper published in summer 2015, Trump called for the elimination of the J-1 exchange visa program, through which foreign youth work in the US. It was unclear if the proposal referred to the J-1 program as a whole — parts of which colleges use to bring in visiting foreign scholars and, in some cases, students (though most students are on F-1 visas) — or just to jobs-related J-1 exchanges. The proposal regarding the J-1 program is, however, no longer mentioned on the Trump campaign website.

Following the election results, university leaders have been sending out unprecedented messages to their students, feeling the need to reiterate their commitment to a non-discriminatory community, and to offer additional counseling services to those distressed by the result.

International students make up just more than half of the applicant pool to US business and graduate  schools, and typically about a third of the actual class at the top MBA programs. Furthermore, Indian students are the second largest applicant pool in both these cases, behind the Chinese.

For international candidates applying to business schools / MS programs now, starting a two-year program in the fall of 2017 means graduating in the summer of 2019, with at least 18 months of the Trump presidency remaining.


The H-1B Visa Issue

If you are an international student hoping to work in the US later on, you will need H-1B visa sponsorship. Now as far as the H-1B visa is concerned, there is some speculation that Trump can make immigration tougher. He can do this by raising the minimum wage requirement for H-1B employment. But this shouldn’t affect students graduating from the top 50-75 universities, as they typically  start on an average salary of USD 70,000+.

Next, for students pursuing MS programs, there’s the worrisome issue of whether Trump will reduce the STEM OPT extension to give lesser time for people to get H-1B visa approval. The current STEM OPT program allows STEM students on an F-1 visa to work in the US for up to three years without an H-1B visa. Critics have called it a “backdoor” H-1B visa, and it could be changed by the president’s signature.

At the same time, curbing the H-1B visa doesn’t eliminate offshore outsourcing. Visa restrictions may complicate the ability of the IT services industry to work in the US, but they may have little impact on offshore outsourcing. Business models will adjust. Furthermore, Silicon Valley will fight hard to offset any such change.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that Trump himself once posted on Twitter about the benefit of retaining international students in the US, writing in an August 2015 tweet, “When foreigners attend our great colleges and want to stay in the US, they should not be thrown out of our country.”

This gives us hope that America is going to continue to welcome international students. International students bring in not just diversity, but also higher tuition. Most of them represent the brightest and best of their countries.


Other countries that benefit

Given these concerns, international students will now also look at broadening their horizons and not consider the US as their primary study destination.

Canadian programs will be sure to benefit, given the increasingly stark difference between immigration policies of the US versus Canada. European programs stand to gain as well, with France, Germany and the Netherlands having immigration friendly policies.

The table below gives current policies regarding work visas in countries following your graduation:

Country Work Permit Duration Comments
USA 12 months for NON Stem Courses and 36 months for STEM courses Students under STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics) courses are allowed to work under OPT for 3 years. NON STEM courses can be Management courses like MBA/MIM
Canada 3 years or equivalent to course duration For any program which is of 2 years duration or more,a student is eligible for 3 years work permit. For a program with less than 2 years duration, the student will get a work permit equivalent to the program duration
UK Up to 4 months TIER 2 Visa (Work Visa in UK). This visa is the most known from international graduates who want to secure a full-time job in the UK after graduation.You must have an offer from a sponsored employer and the job must at least be to the level of a ‘manager” (NQF6 in the legal jargon of the UK immigration border agency). You must be paid an appropriate salary for your job – at least £22K a year.
Australia 2 years, 3 years, 4 years Students who graduate with a Bachelor Degree are eligible for 2 year work visa. Students who graduate with a Masters by coursework degree are eligible for a 2 year work visa.Students who graduate with a Masters by Research degree are eligible for a 3 year work visa.Students who graduate with a Doctoral degree (or PhD) are eligible for a 4 year work visa.
Italy 6 to 12 months Only PHD students and 2° level Master students ((Laurea Megistrale at least 120 credits and must be at 2° level) may apply for a temporary stay permit (called permesso di attesa occupazione)* which lasts for a period of 6 to 12 months maximum and allows students to legally live in Italy after their graduation while searching for a job. Other students can stay only until their stay permit (Permesso di Soggiorno) expires. In case a student doesnot find a new job before his Permesso di Soggiorno expiration date, he must leave the country. Staying in Italy with expired Permesso di Soggiorno is illegal.
Spain 12 months International students with a masters degree or above can stay for up to 12 months after graduation to look for a job.
France 12 months visa renewable for further 12 months Two year residence permit for students studying in the country preferably for Master degree or higher
Netherlands 1 year Search Year :This is where a student is given a full year from the day he graduate to find a job in the field he studied. He must have studied a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at an NVAO-accredited institution in the Netherlands to do this.
Singapore 2 – 3 months Student has to search for a job within this duration with a monthly salary of over SGD 3,300 to be eligible for Employment Pass
Switzerland 6 months Once graduated, students can obtain a residency permit for six months in order to look for a job in Switzerland that is consistent with their qualification.
China to be updated online information very vague….will connect with consulate or immigration authorities and will update
Norway 6 months On graduation, students can obtain a residency permit for six months in order to look for a job that is consistent with their qualification.
Germany 18 months Students would require to apply for a Residence Permit of 18 months to look for a job after completion of their Bachelors/Masters/Doctorate program
Austria Up to 6 months Students who successfully completed their studies at an Austrian university, university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule), accredited private university, university colleges of teacher education and acknowledged university colleges of teacher education may apply for a confirmation to stay in Austria for max. 6 month to find employment. This confirmation has to be applied for before the recent residence permit expires.
Belgium Up to 1 year A Belgian work permit C is for certain foreign nationals who will be staying in Belgium only temporarily, such as students. It allows holders to take on paid employment in any field for the validity of their residence permit for up to one year, and the permit may be renewed.
Japan to be updated online information very vague….will connect with consulate or immigration authorities and will update
Finland Up to 1 year Non-EU students who have stayed in Finland on a student residence permit, can apply for an additional residence permit after their graduation to search for work. This can be granted as an extended residence permit for up to one year. If a student then finds employment, he can then of course apply for a new residence permit based on this employment.



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