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What does Biden victory mean for International students?

Now that the US marathon election result week has culminated in a Joe Biden victory, are you wondering what it means for international students? How will Biden shape the immigration policies that affect OPT, H1B and naturalization process? And finally, how should you plan your studies abroad in the wake of a new President in the White House? Let’s take a look in this post.

First of all, welcome to a non-Trump world!

Trump made it amply clear that he is driven by nationalist agenda at any cost. Even if it caused US universities to lose their share of international students. First, a ban of new H1B, then curb on online only international students and finally raising the minimum wages for H1B, he kept sending clear signals to attack the immigrants.

Is Biden better for international students?

Biden once said of his priorities, “Trump just ended H-1B visas the rest of this year. That will not be in my administration. The people who have come on this visa have built this country. Let’s streamline the naturalization process, make it easier for qualified green card holders to move through his backlog” 

Democrats are more open and lenient on matters related to immigration. The fact that Biden recognizes America as a nation of immigrants gives a lot of hope to those wishing to build their careers in USA.

However, the specifics of Biden’s stance remain unknown. He is definitely not likely to pass on rash curbs on work or student visas that Trump didn’t hesitate in doing. However, at another time, his campaign also said, “Biden will work with Congress to first reform temporary visas to establish a wage-based allocation process and establish enforcement mechanisms to ensure they are aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages.”

Wage based allocation process means qualifying for work visas only if your salary remains above the mentioned threshold. So, all depends on this threshold. As per the latest action by Trump administration, there was a ridiculous 40% hike in the minimum wages required for a H1B sponsorship. It is highly unlikely that Biden will continue or increase this limit.

In a nutshell…

While Biden is overall less anti-immigrant than Trump, there are no promises or specifics known yet. Given the times we are in when countries are struggling to grow their economies, sustain and create jobs for their people, it is understandable that they would tightly scrutinize the borders. International students should cheer after a Biden victory albeit with cautious optimism. 

However, no one can be as bad at Trump. Therefore, change of office and Biden’s victory is a lot of reason to celebrate for international students!

How to take care of your interests?

If you are vying for the top jobs and top companies, US is still the place to be. A 3 year STEM OPT extension plus 6 years on H1B gives you ample time to figure your next move. 

If you want to potentially immigrate to a new country after your studies abroad and don’t want the anxiety related to H1B visas etc, you can consider more immigrant-friendly countries such as Canada. If the Democrats end up not relieving the difficulty on work and student visas, the competition for US schools might dip a little, giving you a better shot at your dream Ivy Leagues. So, for those who are not so set on settling abroad, it is a good time to get into US. 

Anyway with so much changing in the world, who knows what lies next? Why worry for a future long down the line when you don’t know what tomorrow entails 🙂

Other interesting read on the topic: this Scroll article

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