US college students need ‘more attractive, friendlier immigration policies’
Thousands of international students flock to the United States each year to pursue higher education at American universities, but factors such as the cost of a degree and post-graduation work opportunities could dampen the country’s attractiveness in as a study abroad destination for international students.
A recent report by Interstride revealed that 42% of survey respondents chose to study in the United States because of the ranking and reputation of american universities. This was followed by 23% of students saying they came to the United States because they wanted to work in the country after graduation.
Meanwhile, new research published by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has found that the United States losing international students to Canada, especially in the STEM field. Among them are Indian students in STEM courses, who have been one of the largest cohorts of foreign students in the United States.
The report found that international student enrollment fell 7% at US universities but increased 52% at Canadian colleges and universities between 2016 and 2019.
The shift in preference is largely due to strict US immigration policies. Canada is known for its visa and immigration programs that allow international students to stay in the country after their studies. His Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is considered the first major step towards obtaining permanent resident status.
“Canada benefits from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from U.S. destinations, largely because of difficulties in obtaining and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable route to permanent residence in the States. United States,” said Peter Rekai, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer. was quoted saying in Forbes.
There is also the cost factor to consider. Undergraduate international fees in Canada average about US$26,495 in 2021-2022, which is cheaper than the average cost in the United States of about US$43,000-50,000 per year for out of state, depending on the institution.
Students at American universities need options that would allow them to stay and work in the United States
The United States has stepped up its efforts to attract more students to its shores. The Biden administration recently revamped its policy and added new STEM courses to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.
While the expansion of STEM opportunities is a positive signal for students, an international higher education expert said it still does not change the fact that the U.S. postgraduate work (OPT) program remains vulnerable.
“In order to remain the beacon it has always been, the United States must solve the puzzle of transitioning from higher education to immigration by providing a clear and visible path to opportunity for students from the start. departure,” said Dr Rajika Bhandari, an international expert in higher educationin an email interview with Study International.
“Without these kinds of changes, the United States will continue to lose US-educated talent to other countries, and it has already done so over the past few years. This includes more attractive immigration policies and friendlier environments that allow talented international students to stay and pursue their ambitions while contributing meaningfully to the U.S. economy and society.
Bhandari said it is also important to eliminate the “single intent” aspect of the international student visa so that prospective international students do not have to decide and declare at the time of application that they will return home immediately after their studies.
“Most students are too young and ill-prepared at this stage to know exactly how their aspirations and plans will shape after graduation,” she explained. She added that it is reasonable to assume that all students, international or otherwise, are interested in applying their knowledge and skills by gaining work experience.
“While expanding STEM opportunities is a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. postgraduate work (OPT) program remains vulnerable,” she said.