New Delhi, April 20, 2018: Avast majority of Indian students aspire to study in the United States. In fact, 165,918 Indian students were in the US in the 2015-2016 academic year, a 25 per cent increase from 2014-2015. However, many of these students incorrectly believe that the only way to achieve this goal is through the F1 visa programme, followed by the H1-B visa to secure employment post-graduation. This is not the only option; the F-1 and H-1B visas in reality are riskier and more challenging than other options, such as the EB-5 investor visa.
The EB-5 Visa is a lesser-known US Green Card program that invites foreigners to invest 500,000 USD in a US business that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. If the requirements of the programmes are fulfilled, the investor and his/her family (spouse and children under 21) receive US Green Cards and permanent residency.
READ ON FOR THE TOP REASONS WHY THE F-1 AND H-1B VISAS ARE NOT THE SAFEST CHOICE FOR INDIAN STUDENTS PLANNING TO STUDY AND FIND WORK IN THE US:
The F-1 and H-1B visas are rapidly losing the popularity that they have long enjoyed among Indian students and young professionals planning to relocate to the US for further education and subsequent job opportunities. In 2016, less than 30 per cent of the 65,000 applicants for the H-1B received visas. The numerous complications and landmark changes to the H-1B and F1 visa programmes have prompted Indians to look for safer alternatives like the EB-5 visa according to reports published in indiatoday.in
Indians who graduate from US universities and secure jobs in America via the H-1B visa route must wait 15-18 years to secure US green cards. However, under the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, applicants receive US Green Cards within approximately 18-24 months of their initial investment.
Most US universities limit foreign student populations to 20 per cent or less of the student body. Leading American universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, have acceptance rates as low as 0.03 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, for non-US residents, (including those with F-1 visas), as compared to 9 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, for US residents. Foreign students with F1 visas do not qualify for lower “in-state” tuition rates, student loans at lower costs, or merit-based scholarships and awards reserved for US citizens and Green Card holders. EB-5 Green Card holders, on the other hand, are deemed US resident applicants at American colleges and are eligible for all these benefits.
It often becomes difficult for Indian students to stay and work in the US post-graduation. Finding a US employer who will sponsor the H-1B visa is increasingly difficult, since the employer must incur costs during the application process. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies no longer sponsor employment visas nor will they hire international students for open, short-term internship programmes. The H-1B visa causes a competitive disadvantage for top positions and significantly reduces the ability of Indian students to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Further, the general lack of career mobility and low annual salary (often 20 per cent lower than US citizens or Green Card holders) provides an extreme disadvantage to H-1B holders.
– Authored by Suresh Rajan, CEO, LCR Capital Partners