In a First, Indian Students in US Cross 2 Lakh-Mark But Jobs Uncertain as Trump May Scrap Special Plan

CNN-News18

New Delhi: The number of students India sends to the US, went up by three per cent as per 2019 Open Doors report. The US officials in India while announcing these numbers expressed satisfaction that they have for the first time been able to cross the 200,000 mark.

The report states that 18% of all international students in the US were Indians. The number of graduate students from India was second only to the Chinese at over 90,000 students enrolled.

Interestingly, the Optional Practical Training column showed 84,630 students but OPT has remained a contentious issue under the Trump administration. News18 has learnt that there is an ongoing discussion and debate on the issue of scrapping the temporary employment opportunity offered to students with F1 visa both together with and post completion of their course.

When asked about more clarity on OPT, Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, Charisse Phillips, said that she couldn’t predict the future but for now OPT continues. Many view OPT as a means to be able to acquire an H-1B work visa in the US. OPT for STEM students can also be extended by two more years apart from the stipulated 12-months, being an added attraction for studying in the US for many students.

But the Trump administration has shown signs of wanting to scrap the Optional Practical Training programme creating uncertainty among students. Reports this year in June suggested that a Republican Congressman might move a bill to kill the OPT. While it is believed that the state department is in favour of the OPT continuing owing to it being able to attract the right talent in the US and also helping strengthen strategic partnership but the move to scrap the programme finds a constituency among some Americans, a sentiment that the Trump administration will not hesitate to leverage if needed.