• Mahima Kotian

Final Straw? Or ICE-ing On The Cake?

As international students in the United States, we contribute a huge chunk to the American economy. But, we have to be mindful of innumerable legalities like visa status and documentation, where we can/cannot work in our first year, work visa sponsorships, taxes, and a lot more. All of this, on top of being a student and trying to build a ‘successful career’ here. But we continue to follow all the rules and legalities, in the promise of better job opportunities, standard of living, and a better ‘future’. And international students definitely benefit from studying and working in the U.S. and enjoy perks like higher pay and opportunity to travel.

But over the years, it’s become increasingly difficult for these students to gain work sponsorships and for their H-1B visas to get picked (out of a lottery system). All the legalities and the bleak opportunities at permanently staying in the U.S., has pushed students to look at other opportunities in other countries (Canada, Europe, and Australia). These countries have lesser restrictions and grant work permits easily, as compared to the U.S.

“I have started looking for jobs in Canada, UK and my home country India as well. Because the environment in the US right now is very unstable and their hiring process is very excruciating. It seems like a bad deal to give so much of yourself for something (a job) that might not exist in a few months.” - Kriti Jogi, an international student at Academy of Art University.

In 2020, the Trump administration has halted the issues of green cards and H1-B visas for immigrants. This created a lot of tension amongst immigrants and international students. And the latest ICE rule was the last push for students to look away.

“Although the rule is finally dropped, it forced me to realize and face the fact that it is never at my will whether I can stay in the States. It is a reminder that I don’t belong here.” - Xinrui Ge, an international student at Academy of Art University.

The international student enrolment has been declining since 2016 and it continues to decline. And with all the new laws and restrictions, I feel like most international students are ‘done’ and they’ve had enough. So, the ones who are studying here are already looking at jobs in their home countries or countries like Canada, the U.K., Europe and Australia. And the ones who were planning to study here, have started looking at other courses in countries with far less restrictions.

Students are done with living in fear and stress all the time. They want to build a better future for themselves, but not at the cost of their mental health or well-being. So, when countries like Canada have lesser restrictions and welcome international students, why would students want to study in the U.S.?

So, America, are you ready to lose a big part of your 41 billion dollar educational exports? Because your loss is becoming Canada’s (and other countries’) gain.

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