Does Biden’s Presidency bring hope for the Indian Students in U.S.?

The victory of Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election has come as a relief for Indian students and the United States’ education community. With tighter immigration policies, concerns over limited prospects of working in the U.S., and uncertainties about Visa rules under the Trump administration, the Biden Presidency has increased hopes of the Indian student community in having a more welcoming learning environment.

 At present, Indians constitute the second-largest group of international students in the U.S. after China. As per the 2019 U.S. Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, India sent more than 2,02,000 students to America at various levels of education in 2018-19, which was an increase of about three percent from the previous year. Reasons for applying to the U.S. among students include the country housing several of the world’s top-ranking universities, a sought-after academic environment, and better funding opportunities. 

Despite this, the U.S. administration’s recent policy changes such as proposal to set a four-year time limit on student visas that came out in September and other developments over immigration policies and uncertainties concerning Visa rules are being dreaded by international students. The discriminatory nature of immigration policies came to the fore once again, more recently, when the Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule to restrict F1 visas to two years for students from 59 countries, including a large number of those from Africa, citing security concerns. 

In this light the Biden presidency is expected to improve Immigration policies, better working conditions for internationals, and foreign policy with the home country. These are long term changes that students are hoping to see after the election and the immediate focus is on the government’s handling of the Coronavirus situation. According to the Economic Times the changes have already begun to be visible. For instance, half-a-dozen education consultants expect 20-30% increase in the number of Indian students applying to the U.S. in the coming year. More Indian students are setting their sights on a U.S. education because they anticipate a welcoming regime under a Joe Biden presidency, in contrast with that of the incumbent, as they feel Biden’s policies will be less protectionist and more constructive for U.S. nationals.

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