Trump-Era Visa Policy May Hurt US Reputation as an International Study Destination

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The Biden Administration gives a gleam of hope as international students from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, India, the UK, and European Schengen area are welcome starting August 1. These students may be qualified for an NIE or National Interest Exception if their academic program starts on August 1, 2021 onwards. Returning foreign students having the F-1 and M-1 visas can enter the US without contacting the embassy if it is not earlier than 30 days before their academic program starts.

International students play a major role in the booming economy in the US. In 2018, they contributed $45 billion and comprise 5.5% of the total higher education student population in the country. On top of that, international students are valuable as they have the potential and skills to contribute to innovation and discovery.

However, a move by the Trump Administration may make it difficult for international students to reap what they sowed when the H-1B lottery was halted. This program allows employers in the US to hire foreign workers temporarily in different fields such as medicine and health, education, law, theology, mathematics, architecture, business and more. If this new rule will take effect, USCIS will select the H-1B petitions from highest to lowest salary levels. This means that the most experienced workers will have a greater chance over new graduates.

‚ÄúThe National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that an international student may be 54% more likely to get an H-1B petition under the current H-1B lottery system than under the Trump administration‚Äôs regulation that would end the H-1B lottery,‚ÄĚ according to the NFAP policy brief.

This ruling can have a significant impact on international students. There would be greater preference for employees with relevant experience in the labor market. For this, international students are already greatly disadvantaged. If and when the Biden Administration retains this ruling, the US will most likely be less attractive to foreign students. 

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