We have received several questions from prospective students for Fall 2021 w.r.t the recent tweet from the US President Donald Trump on immigration. While details of his plan are yet to emerge, we wanted to put out our perspective on said tweet from President Trump :
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
So, what does this mean for prospective students applying for graduate studies to the US for Fall 2021? Currently, we believe that this tweet should not have much impact on students applying for Fall 2021. Our rationale is outlined in the article below.
“Temporarily” indicates a short term measure (60 days)
President Trump has mentioned a key word “temporarily” which indicates that this is a short term measure and is not something permanent. Currently, this seems to indicate a 60 day temporary ban on individuals seeking permanent residency (new Green Cards) only. This does not affect other temporary worker visas (eg. H1B visas) and student visas.While the details are still to emerge, we believe that for students who will be starting their studies in Fall (August/September 2021), this will have minimal impact. Their start dates are 15 months away and they will be graduating in 2023 which is almost 3 years away.
60 day ban is only on new immigrant visas (Green cards) and NOT on Student visas (F1), OPT and H1B visas which are Non-Immigrant Visas
The tweet seems to indicate that the temporary ban is a 60 day ban only on immigrant visas (green cards). In fact, as of April 23, 2020, Trump told reporters at his daily White House news conference that:
“This order will only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency, in other words, those receiving green cards, big factor, will not apply to those entering on a temporary basis.”
Now, all the visas mentioned below that students require are non-immigrant visas.
- Student Visa (F1) : This is the visa that you get when you are going to attend university in the US for an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree (MS,MBA, Phd). The F1 visa or student visa is classified as a non-immigrant visa and hence should not be affected by this ban.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) : This is a period during which students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for one academic year are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for one year on a student visa. This applies towards getting practical training to complement their education. For students in STEM programs, they are eligible for a 24 month extension i.e.Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics students have a total of 3 years during which they can work in the US without requiring a separate work visa. Now, OPT is also considered a non-immigrant visa and hence should not be impacted by President Trump’s tweet.
- Work visa (H1B) : Once a student completes their OPT, they need to get on an H1B visa to be able to continue working in the US. The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations. Examples are fields like computer science,engineering, mathematics, sciences, IT etc. The H1B visa is considered a non-immigrant visa and as President Trump mentions immigration into the US, we expect that there will not be much of an impact on this category of visas.
As all the above visas that apply to students and recent graduates are considered non-immigrant visas versus President Trump’s tweet on temporary stop on immigration, we do not expect much of an impact to prospective students for Fall 2021.
STEM crisis and shortage in the US
STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (including computer science). With increased technology being adopted, STEM is becoming more and more important for countries to stay competitive. The US has a significant shortage of STEM graduates compared to a country like China.
An article published in 2019 in the American Affairs journal titled “America’s stem crisis threatens our national security” highlights this shortage and how it impacts America’s ability to stay competitive with a country like China. A world economic forum report in 2016 in fact stated China had 4.7 million recent STEM graduates in 2016 whereas the USA had only 568,000 recent graduates.
International students form a majority of STEM students enrolled in the US in graduate programs (MS,MBA and Phd). These STEM graduates are important to the US as they look to compete with China on technology. We expect that for students enrolling in STEM programs in good universities, there will continue to be opportunities available in the future as it is a need for the US economy.
$39 Billion, economic impact of US education industry
An ICEF Monitor report stated that around 1.2 million international students had enrolled in the US in 2017/2018. The annual economic impact of international student enrollment was estimated to be $39 Billion. This was estimated to support around 455,000 jobs.
The US will not want to jeopardize such a huge industry which is supporting so many jobs. They will want to continue to attract students for higher education and be the favoured destination choice for students.
President Trump is very focused on the economy. He has already been talking about opening up cities in a phased manner. Being an election year and with the focus on saving jobs, we believe that the US will want to continue to attract good students for their graduate programs (MS,MBA, Phd) and undergraduate programs.
As per all the reasons outlined above, we believe that prospective students should continue to plan for applying to the US for Fall 2021. If for some reason, you later want to change your plans, you can always defer your admit.
Should I apply to more than one country?
We get asked this question a lot and so wanted to address it. Let us talk through the different country options.
The USA is the world’s largest economy and a lot of the largest technology companies have started there. We expect that the US will continue to lead the world in innovation and will have several job opportunities for students, especially for STEM graduates. It also has the most number of universities and program options. So, we expect that the US will continue to be a top destination for international students. President Trump’s tweet is a short-term 60 day plan on new Green Cards and so will not have an impact on students who wish to pursue their graduate studies in the USA.
Now, let us take the case of a country like Canada. With good universities (though the number of universities is fewer than the US) and easier immigration/ visa policies, Canada has been gaining popularity among students over the last couple of years. Certain cities like Toronto and Vancouver have attracted several tech and financial firms. They also have easy access to the US. Microsoft for example has a large technology center in Vancouver. Vancouver is a 4 hour drive from Seattle where Microsoft is headquartered. While Canada is a much smaller economy than the US and hence will not have the same number of jobs as the US, factors such as its proximity to the US, availability of good universities and easier immigration policies make Canada a good second choice for students.
Europe is another destination that students consider. Germany is a popular choice among students especially for engineering. In 2019, the UK introduced a policy to make a 2 year work visa available to international students graduating from a British university. This was a significant increase from the period of 4 months offered earlier. Hence, UK is increasing in popularity though the impact of Brexit on the economy remains to be seen.
The decision to apply to more than 1 country for graduate study should be taken into consideration after analyzing the degree/specialization that the student wants to apply for and the job opportunities available in each country post graduation. The choice should be more strategic taking into account a student’s professional goals and degree/specialization.
For each country that a student applies to, they will need to bucket their applications into ambitious, practical and safe university applications. Hence,applying to more countries may require more university applications from a student perspective. An experienced Admissions Counsellor can help students navigate through some of these decisions.
At Galvanize Test Prep, we offer our students the option to apply to two separate countries as part of our Premium Admission Counselling package. We usually recommend that students stick to one or maximum two countries in most cases as for each country, one needs to apply to enough ambitious, safe and practical universities to maximize chances for admission.
We hope that this article helps answer some of the questions that prospective students for Fall 2021 may have. As the situation evolves, we will continue to put out more information.