Trouble For Indian Students In USA

Trouble For Indian Students In USA

Measure to deport foreign students that have online classes for the coming semester implemented by President Trump has caused tension for Indian students in the US, with the same anxiety being face by all foreign workers.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Order
The USA recently announced that foreign students would have to leave the country if their classes shift to online mode for the semester. Only students having ‘in-person’ classes would be allowed to stay.

However, some relief was provided to non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students, who may take partially offline classes and stay in the country.
F-1 Visa: For non-immigrant students enrolled in Academic and Language training courses.
M-1 Visa: For students enrolled in non-academic or vocational courses.

H1B Visa
The measures to send the students back to home come in the light of temporary suspension of H-1B (high-skilled workers), H-4 (spouses of H-1Bs), L-1 (intra-company transfers) visas by Trump, who cited high economic pressure and unemployment as reasons for the step.

Several big firms like Apple, Google, and Amazon, etc. have expressed disapproval over suspension.

Premium institutes like Harvard are charging the same fees for availing online classes as that paid for in-person lectures, which has drawn criticism from several students.

On the other hand, Harvard University and MIT have sued President Trump, and have called the move of sending back foreign students “unlawful”.

Drastic Change
Donald Trump has displayed a drastic turnaround from his previous opinions on foreign students and workers. In 2015, he tweeted the following:

Contribution Of Indian And Foreign Students

  • American-Born Confused Desi (ABCD) is a term used to refer to South Asian Americans born or raised in the United States, in contrast to those who were born overseas and later settled in the USA. Among South Asian Americans, the term may be considered divisive, as first generation South Asian Americans use it to criticize the Americanization and lack of belonging to either Indian, Asian or American culture they perceive in their second-generation peers or children.
  • A gurukula was a type of education system in ancient India with shishya living near or with the guru, in the same house. The word gurukula is a combination of the Sanskrit words guru (‘teacher’ or ‘master’) and kula (‘family’ or ‘home’).
  • Robert Frederick Smith is an American businessman, philanthropist, chemical engineer, and investor. Forbes has named Smith on several business lists, including its list of the 100 greatest living business minds, and the wealthiest people in America. In 2019, Smith pledged to eliminate $34 million of student loan debt for the Morehouse College graduating class that year.

How USA’s Work Visa Suspension Will Affect Indians?

How USA's Work Visa Suspension Will Affect Indians?

President Trump recently extended the immigration visa ban from 24 June to 31 December, with many tech companies criticizing the move. The step would affect Indian skilled workforce and Indian tech companies and other MNCs that issue a very high number of H1B visas.

Crux of the Matter

Extended Immigration Ban
Trump administration has extended the immigration ban in lieu of increasing unemployment and economic crisis triggered by Covid-19 in the United States of America. Currently, unemployment is the USA is standing at 40 million. Between Feb-Apr, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions.

US administration has taken this step to insulate its citizens from unemployment, but the tech giants, one of the pillars of the US economy have expressed dissatisfaction with the action. Tech- companies have a large portion of the high skill workforce comprising of immigrant workers from across the globe, majorly India. Thus, Indians are likely to be affected directly by this move.

Between February and April of 2020, more than 17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas.

Donald Trump, President of USA

Understanding Visas
H1B – Temporary work permit to a person employed in a highly specialized field
Eg: An Indian techie hired by Google
Validity: 6 years
New visas per year: ~85,000
Indians receive ~70% of the total H1-B visas issued each year

H2B – Given to types of temporary seasonal workers, who are employed in non-agriculture work
Eg: An Indian employee hired for a construction job
Validity: Up to 3 years
New visas per year: ~66,000

H4 – Issued to family members of H1B and H2B holders
Validity: Duration of the H1B visa
Indians received 83% of the ~126,000 visas issued in FY19

L1 – For intra-company Executives and Managers of MNCs
Eg: An executive working is Coca-Cola unit in India is transferred to US branch
Validity: Up to 7 years
No annual cap on the number of visas to be issued
Indians receive nearly 1/4th of all L1 visas

L2 – For the Dependents of L1 holders
Validity: Duration of L1 visa holders

J1 – For Cultural and Educational exchange
Validity: Up to 7 years (depending on the program undertaken)

J2 – For the Spouses and Dependents of J1 holders
Validity: Duration of the J1 visa holder

  • The H-1B is a visa in the United States that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. On June 27, 1952, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) was a scheme from 2002 until 2008 that allowed highly skilled people to immigrate into the United Kingdom to look for work or self-employment opportunities. It was different from the standard UK work permit scheme in that applicants did not need a specific job offer in the UK.
  • On 27 November 2014, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility became operational for citizens of over 40 eligible countries, including those who are eligible for visa on arrival. On 1 April 2017 the scheme was renamed e-Visa with three subcategories: e-Tourist Visa, e-Business Visa and e-Medical Visa.

India’s Ban on Visa

Currently, the threat of community transmission looms over India as the number of cases is now nearing the 50,000-mark, and deaths are 1,500+. Taking into account the urgency of the matter, the Indian government has put a ban on the issuance of visa to foreign nationals. Just as the US did, a few exceptions that can help support the Indian economy have been kept rather than a blanket ban.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Visa Ban But Lenient
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order that visas of foreigners stranded in India due to the lockdown will be granted a free extension on ‘gratis’ basis until international flight services start. No foreigner will be charged for overstaying in India till 30 days after the uplifting of the ban on global air travel. Gratis basis means something done out of kindness, or for free.

The second-order released by MHA says that relaxation would also be given to the people whose visas have/will expire(d) during the lockdown. Their visas would be extended on a ‘gratis’ basis by just filling an online application.

Apart from that, OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cardholders, who have a lifetime Indian visa, will not be allowed entry into India till the air travel ban is lifted.

Special Permissions
The Ministry has given special permission for the issuance of visas to diplomats, officials of the UN and it’s international organizations, employment visa seekers, and project visa seekers. If foreign nationals want to travel to India in any unavoidable circumstances then they can contact the nearest Indian Embassy. India will also give permission to foreign nationals to go back to their country at their request.

‘Non Helpful Travel Ban’ Strategy
Recently, the USA also banned the issuance of visas but spared a few categories like the medical experts and doctors who can assist the nation at this critical juncture. US also allowed a few visas related to investment/businesses that can support the US economy. Despite India putting a temporary halt to the issuance of visas, it has been lenient in terms of granting an extension to the stranded foreigners. Most of the countries across the world have temporarily banned visa services because of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • One of the earliest known references to paperwork that served in a role similar to that of a ‘Passport or Visa’ is found in the Hebrew Bible. Nehemiah 2:7-9, dating from approximately 450 BC, states that Nehemiah, an official serving King Artaxerxes I of Persia, asked permission to travel to Judea. The king granted leave and gave him a letter “to the governors beyond the river” requesting safe passage for him as he traveled through their lands. Word visa comes from Latin ‘charta visa’, meaning “paper which has been seen” and in essence, it was a document signed by a king authorising the person to enter his territory.
  • The oldest passport still in existence was issued on 18 June 1641 and signed by Charles I. The document was licensing Sir Thomas Littleton “to pass out of this realme (realme) into the part beyond the Seas, there to reymain (remain) the space of three years”. The passport was sold at an auction in 2016 for $1,750 in Knightsbridge in London. According to the text, Littleton was travelling with four servants, fifty pounds and “his trunks and necessaries”, and was forbidden from venturing into the realm of any “foraine (foreign) Prince or Potentate not being with us in league or amitie (amity).”
  • As of February 2020, 47 countries provide ‘visa on arrival’ to individuals carrying an Indian passport. Some of them are Thailand, Bhutan, Mauritius, Bolivia, etc.

UK Fast track priority visa process for international scientists


Making headway in a promising direction for the scientific community, the number of fast-track visas allowing scientists from abroad to undertake research at UK universities will double from 62 to more than 120. UK home secretary Priti Patel has made a formal announcement for an immediate increase in the number of eligible fellowships that can benefit from accelerated visas.

Crux of the Matter
  • The move comes after warnings from sector stakeholders of a significant scientific skills shortage and potential harm to their global reputation in the wake of Britain exiting the EU.
  • Prof. Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the UK’s Royal Society, had been putting his best foot forward for implementation of such reforms, since the result of the referendum on membership of the EU in 2016.
  • Designed to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation, individuals who receive these select fellowships will only need to provide a letter from the relevant funding organisation, which will see them fast-tracked to the Home Office visa application stage where immigration checks will be carried out.
  • The UK PM, Boris Johnson plans to scrap the cap on “tier one” visas for highly skilled migrants, whose limit is 2,000 a year currently. He believes that this would make the system work better for scientists and their families and make the UK a “supercharged magnet“, drawing scientists like iron filings from around the world coming to help push forward projects like fusion research in Culham.
  • Responding positively to this announcement, Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said it would “help attract the brightest and best research stars to the UK at a time when our place on the world stage is changing”.

Brexit, a portmanteau of “British” and “exit”, is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). Following a June 2016 referendum, in which 51.9% voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, starting a process that is currently due to conclude with the UK withdrawing no later than 31 January 2020. Withdrawal is advocated by Eurosceptics and opposed by pro-Europeanists, both of whom span the political spectrum. More Info