World News

Post Trump travel ban, foreign students in US mull migrating elsewhere for prospects: Report

Foreign graduate students and postdoctoral scholars said they are seriously considering leaving the US for countries that have a more welcoming immigration policy.

Published: 16th March 2017 07:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2017 07:33 PM   |  A+A-


NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump's curbs on immigration are forcing foreign graduate students and researchers from countries like India, to look for alternative plans for their education and career, including moving to another country, according to a survey report.

When President Trump came out with his initial executive order in January that barred people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, the foreign graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in America scrambled to figure out how such travel restrictions would affect them.     "The first 24 hours, nobody did any work," says Saghi Saghazadeh, an Iranian postdoctoral scholar at the Harvard Medical School. "I was constantly refreshing news websites; that's all I did," Chemical & Engineering News" (C&EN) quoted him as saying in its latest issue. "I'm walking on eggshells, and I don't know what's going to happen," Saghazadeh says. "The worst part is that we cannot plan for the future," he said.

Foreign graduate students and postdoctoral scholars whom C&EN spoke with said they are seriously considering leaving the US for countries that have a more welcoming immigration policy. "I'm questioning the stay in America, and I have already started looking through documents for Canada," Saghazadeh says. "I will go to a country where I have to worry less about my life."

It is not just students and postdoctoral scholars from the affected countries who are feeling unsettled, the report said citing an example of a graduate student from India.  The Indian student at Oklahoma State University who came to the US in 2011 said he worries about potential changes that might happen to the process of obtaining an H-1B temporary work visa. The Indian national did not want his name included out of concern for his career prospects, the report said.

On March 3, the Trump Administration announced suspension of expedited processing of H-1B visas for up to six months. Several bills now in Congress also propose additional changes to the H-1B visa process, widely used by Indian IT firms and professionals. The number of H-1B visas awarded to researchers in the chemical sciences is already extremely low.

In 2015, according to data from the US Citizenship & Immigration Services, initial H-1B petitions approved in occupations in mathematics and physical and life sciences accounted for approximately four per cent of the total approved H-1B petitions. In comparison, 62 per cent of the approved H-1B petitions went to computer-related occupations, the report said. "If I get a job in the US, I would stay, but if I don't get a job, what am I going to do? I have to plan accordingly," says the Indian national, who is a Oklahoma State graduate student.

 "I don't feel secure, and I don't have a clear vision of what's going to happen. I have to look at other options." He says he's looking into opportunities in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and countries in Europe, as well as prospects back home in India. 

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.