WFY Today

The Indian Diaspora To The US: Reform Student Training Now

Appeal from Indian diaspora body to us administration for updates in the student training programme.

A heartfelt appeal was made by a group representing the Indian diaspora to the Biden administration last Friday. They urged for adjustments to be made to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme for international students. Their plea was rooted in the significant gap between the number of graduating students and the limited availability of H1B visas. Expressing their concerns in a letter addressed to Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) emphasised the struggles faced by Indian students in contributing to the US industry due to this disparity.

The letter highlighted that extending the STEM OPT period from 24 to 48 months for qualified students could significantly enhance the chances of STEM degree holders in the H1B visa lottery, giving them a six-fold advantage over non-STEM degree holders. Extending the application period for OPT post-graduation from 60 to 180 days was proposed. Khanderao Kand, the Director of Policy and Strategy at FIIDS, poured his heart out in the letter, stressing the importance of nurturing talent for innovation and the enduring economic benefits these students bring to the nation. He also underlined the critical role played by this programme in the economy, citing that international students contribute approximately USD 10 billion in tuition and other expenses to US universities.

Furthermore, they contribute to fostering cross-cultural understanding and enriching the academic environment in the United States. Kand expressed concerns about the ramifications of the current situation, emphasising that with the proposed changes, the dreams of these talented individuals to pursue education and careers in the United States could continue. He noted the possibility of students turning to educational opportunities in other countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, which would ultimately have a detrimental impact on US institutions and the economy.

Highlighting the vital role of the proposed OPT amendments, Kand emphasised their significance in retaining highly qualified STEM graduates in the United States, thus ensuring the nation’s leadership in critical areas such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

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