Immigration: After Canada, US is fast becoming the second favoured destination for Indian students

More and more Indian students in the 18-25 age group are preferring to make North American their destination for studies and immigration.

Studies reveal that the earlier trend of moving down south, to Australia and New Zealand, has changed for various reasons, including the strict Covid-19 mandates and tightening of immigration rules.

On Tuesday, the US Embassy in New Delhi observed “Students Visa day”.

It is not only Punjab but students from several other States, including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bengal, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra are moving overseas for vocational, technical and higher education.

Interestingly, the number of girl students going abroad for education is also growing rapidly.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a dampener as the movement of people was virtually brought to a nought because of the restrictions.

Since the direct flights to Canada and USA remained suspended, a large number of aspirant students were stranded. Once the air flights were restored in September/October were restored, flood gates opened and thousands of Indian students travelled to their pre-chosen destinations in North America.

Like the US, Canada has also opened its doors for more and more students.

One common redeeming feature has been that both the US and Canada announced last month that they would clear all pendency for permanent residents – green card for the US and PR for Canada – in next six months.

Facing an acute shortage of skilled and unskilled manpower, Canada also announced to extend work permits of international students until December 2024 thus giving them extended opportunity to apply and seek PR.

The Embassy officials revealed that the United States was expecting another record-breaking year in terms of issuance of visas to Indian students this summer. The  US Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina said that last year, the US issued visas to record 62,000 Indian students. This year, the Embassy has opened 100,000 appointments for student visas. 

As of now, more than 200,000 Indian students are studying at US academic institutions, representing more than 20 per cent of international students currently in the United States, the Embassy said.  

Speaking on Student Visa Day at the US Embassy, Lacina said, “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mission India has issued more student visas in 2021 than ever before. This summer we are expecting another record-breaking student season.”

“The United States places an immense value to international students and their rich contributions to our academic institutions and communities. This is particularly true in India. Indians are the second largest group of international students in the United States,” Lacina said.

Not only in the US Embassy in New Delhi, the students  have been making beeline to the US Consular offices at the Chennai, Hyderabad Kolkata, and Mumbai seeking Student visas. These Consular offices interviewed more than 2,500 Indian student visa applicants, the Embassy said in a statement. 

Don Heflin, the Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs in India, said, “We will interview more student applicants for the visa this summer. We are hoping to exceed the last year’s record of 62,000 visas to Indian students.”  

“We are interviewing many students today for the visa. We have a great start. This year, the Embassy has opened 100,000 appointments for student visas,” Don Heflin said. 

“Today, we recognise the many contributions of Indian students in shaping the US-India relationship, which is celebrating 75 years of achievement,” said Lacina.

Each international student adds to the local economy. Since they pay much more than the locals – Canadian or American students –  they fuel the economy as they also spend money on their housing, grocery and other things. On an average, an international students brings with him in the first year anything between US $ 20,000 and 25,000.

Though, earlier they used to prefer admission in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary in Canada and New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the US, but not anymore. Their choice is for towns where they can find cheaper accommodation and more work opportunities. They also prefer to move in small groups to cut down their living costs.

Recently, Statistics Canada revealed that there were more than a million jobs  available in Canada. Of these nearly 1.50 lakh were in Ontario, the biggest province of the country.

Jaspreet Singh Gill, a US based Barrister and Immigration Lawyer, told Parvasi that the number of Indian students wanting to make US their permanent home was rising by day. On an average 1500-2000 applications to this effect were moved every month.