Confusion created by recent news about H1B and OPT cancellations

The recent news about the proposed cancellation of H1B and OPT visas in various national newspapers has sent a wave of panic among Indian students and working professionals. With considerable experience in these matters, we present to you a clarification of these news items to ease your doubts and future plans of studying in the US.

On 8th May, five US senators and one congressman wrote a letter to President Donald Trump requesting him to suspend H1B and OPT visas for one year in view of the soaring unemployment in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To begin with, we want to clarify that it is not a petition but only a letter presenting an opinion/suggestion. Such letters can be written by anyone to the President. It does not mean that the President will immediately pass an executive order on the basis of this letter.

Further, acting on the letter is not an easy task. Firstly, only 5 Republican senators out of a 100, and one congressman out of 435, is a very small number to make an impact or drive a decision. Secondly, in the United States, these decisions will impact the two powerful lobbies that hold a lion’s share in their economy: The universities and IT companies. The economy of universities largely depends upon tuition fees from international students and this proposal will directly affect their student intake. Similarly, the majority of IT companies depend heavily on Indian and Chinese professionals who hold Masters degrees from American universities. Thus, the President is unlikely to make such a drastic decision which will have a boomerang effect on their economy.

What we must also not forget is that the letter could very well be a political gimmick, considering the November 2020 presidential elections. Against that backdrop, it is only advisable not to give importance to such letters and news items in the newspapers and go ahead with your study plans since universities and companies will continue to look to India for skilled engineers and tech professionals.

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