For years, Indian students have been flocking to universities in the United States of America to pursue higher education – mainly MS degrees. However, due to uncertainties in the recent immigration policies, there is some reservation in the minds of MS candidates about whether the USA is still the best option. In this post, we are covering a few points about why 2019 is actually an opportune time to apply to American universities.
1] Trump’s New H1B Policy
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require technical expertise. In late January, US president Donald Trump announced changes in the H1B visa lottery system, which will favour students with advanced degrees in STEM fields from US universities. The new approach may result in an increase of up to 16% H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.
On 2nd August, President Trump announced that he is backing a new legislation for an immigration reform (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or the RAISE Act) for foreign individuals who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.
This is going to be immensely beneficial for Indian students in America in the long term. The legislation backs a merit based system which gives preferences to highly skilled individuals for immigration. The application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to the U.S economy.
12 Months: Granted to students on F1 (student) visa status completing undergraduate (BS/BA) or graduate (MS/MBA) degrees
24 Months Extension: Students with degrees from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields
Therefore, students completing a degree from the STEM field get an OPT period of total 36 months (Regular 12 months + 24 months extension), permitting them to work in the US without H1B visa.
OPT is a temporary employment authorization that is directly related to a student’s area of study. Students pursuing their education in the US on student (F1) visa are eligible to work in the US under the F1-OPT visa program, which gives them an opportunity to apply the education obtained in an academic degree to a practical work experience.
Several news articles have been published since 3rd April 2017 discussing the new rule affecting H1B visas.
Here are 3 things Indian students aspiring to study in the US should know.
1. More Visas for Students: This rule primarily affects India’s IT outsourcing industry which is the biggest user of H-1B visas. Of the top 10 companies sponsoring H1B visas, 89% visa applications are from outsourcing IT companies. This causes an acute shortage for H1B visas on a whole, reducing chances for Indian students who are directly employed by US companies , filing for H1B. With stricter regulations in place for Indian IT companies, more opportunities will open for students with advanced degrees. In other words, more visas will be available for students
Are you confused as to what the latest news regarding this “ Bill introduced in the US regarding H1B work visa” is? Keep reading further to understand what all the discussion is really about.
The new bill, titled “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” has been re-introduced in Congress by certain republicans (this bill was already introduced in earlier years, but was never passed). It proposes key changes in the H1-B program that allows skilled workers from foreign countries to fill high-tech jobs in the US.
The bill has proposed two changes – the gist of which is as follows:
Every year U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H1B petitions starting from 1st April. As such, petitions for the fiscal year 2017 will be accepted from 1st April 2016. The current quota for H1B VISA is 65,000 under the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption – also known as the Masters quota. Thus, the total quota stands at 85,000. In the previous year, USCIS received a total of nearly 233,000 H1B petitions under both the categories put together from 1st April to 7th April and then they stopped accepting new applications. For the first time, USCIS received more than the limit of 20,000 H1B petitions under the Masters quota (the exact number of applications is not declared by USCIS). Computer generated random selection process (lottery) is conducted for Masters quota petitions which selects 20,000 applicants for the Master’s degree cap completion. The H1B petitions filed under Masters quota cap, but not selected in the first round of lottery are then added to the general quota of petitions. The lottery is then conducted for this pool to select 65,000 petitions towards the general quota cap completion. USCIS rejects and returns the remaining H1B petitions.