There could be an increase in the number of international students in the U.S. with President-elect Joe Biden at the helm.
About 40 per cent of the students from India who go abroad for higher education go to the U.S. However, during the past few years, under the America First administration of outgoing President Donald Trump, countries like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have seen large growths in the number of international students.
The Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange 2019 showed a decrease in the number of students choosing the U.S. as their preferred country for higher education while Canada and Australia saw increases of more than 100 per cent.
“For students who are looking at not just education but also job prospects for the future in their fields, Canada at the moment is a far better option than the States even if you are doing STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics),” said Parth Sharma, an economics student studying at York University in Toronto.
Under the Trump administration, immigration and visa policies have been a concern. The Buy American, Hire American policy of April 2017 was the first significant change, followed by changes made to the H-1B visa policy, increasing restrictions on foreign students.
“The thought about going to the States never even entered my mind because of the stories about the extremely stressful visa process that I heard,” said Shifa Nanda, a University of Ottawa student.
A temporary ban was issued by the U.S. in 2020 on a range of worker visas, including H-1B. These visas are used by Indian IT and American technology companies.
Almost a quarter of H-1B applications were denied in the third quarter of 2019 compared with six per cent in 2015.
“Students were asked to leave as soon as they finished their program regardless if they had a job or not, which was not fair at all,” said Kritvi Methi, a communications graduate from Purdue University in Indiana. “A lot of my friends who were already working were asked to resign and leave.”
Biden has promised to exempt foreign students working on doctorates in science, technology, engineering, and math from a visa cap.
He also said any foreign graduate with a U.S. doctorate should be given a green card.
“All of these policies work in the favour of not only foreign students but also international graduates,” Methi said. “But for that to happen, these policies need to go through.”