New Delhi: Each May or June, Indian students who graduate from a US institution find themselves in a quandary: to stay or go.
Under visa laws, foreign students are allowed one year of optional practical training, or OPT, a temporary authorization allowing them to apply classroom lessons to the workplace. But given increased difficulty obtaining green cards or visas, the year often seemed too short a period for the investment, both for worker and employer.
Now, the US government is extending the training period to two and a half years for math, science and engineering students. The decision was made last week by the US Department of Homeland Security. India and China are the top source countries for foreign students in the US.
Before, students only had one opportunity to snag one of 65,000 H-1B visas allotted each year. Now they’ll have two or three chances—for each year of the training. Companies also might be more willing to hire such graduates because of the longer time commitment they can offer employers.
It’s a win-win prospect, says Uday Zokarkar, chief business officer at the employment portal ClickJobs.com. “The passing out student will not be under pressure to get a company to sponsor his or her H-1 within one year,” Zokarkar said. “Companies in the US will benefit... as they need more and more skilled workers to stay in the US and work there.”
Technology companies in the US have complained bitterly about regulations that restrict their overseas hiring. On Tuesday, a week after they began fielding visa applications, US immigration officials announced they had already received more requests than the allowed cap of visas, and would hold a lottery to select which applications it would accept.