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As US tightens immigration laws, Indians look to UK and Canada for jobs

According to job consultants, students are also staying away from the US due to restrictions on H-1B visas, reducing the chances of being able to work there post their education.

The United States has been the most preferred country for Indians to move for work and education for years. However, with the US now tightening its immigration laws, Indians are starting to move away from the American dream, and look to the United Kingdom and Canada for opportunities.

A recent report by job portal Indeed revealed that there has been a substantial fall in searches for jobs in the US. “June 2020 job searches for the USA fell from 42% from a high of 58% in January 2019 – a downward trend that predates impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and corresponds instead with uncertainty around, and tightening of, US immigration policy,” the report revealed.

On June 23, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 in a bid to protect American workers.

The H-1B visa, which is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise, is the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals. Indians make up for the largest chunk of H-1B applicants every year.

Following this, Trump on August 3, signed an executive order preventing federal agencies from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers — mainly those on H-1B visas.

“Today I am signing an executive order to ensure that the federal government lives by a very simple rule, higher American,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office of the White House.

The report by Indeed revealed that while job seekers in India remain keen to explore work opportunities across the globe, there was a rise in searches for these roles in Canada, the UAE, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, and Qatar.

Education and job consultants to have confirmed a similar trend.

Swati, who works with Abroad education consultancies, says that students are also staying away from the US due to restrictions on H-1B visas. “The rules are stricter now and students are not sure if they will be able to continue working in the US once they finish their education. Studying in the US is an average investment of Rs 40 lakh. But when work visas are being suspended and norms are changing regularly, students and parents are of the opinion that there is no point investing so much when there is no guarantee of a return,” she says.

According to Swati, people are preferring the UK, followed by Australia and Canada.

On September 11, 2019 the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route enabling international students to stay in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies.

The graduate route will be launched in summer 2021 and gives international students the opportunity to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they graduate, the government said.

While undergraduate and master’s degree students will be able to stay for two years under the route, PhD students will be able to stay for three years.

A statement from the government said that students will be able to switch into other work
routes when applying for leave inside the UK.

As a result of these new policies, Paul Chellakumar, Chairman of Chennai-based education consultancy Campus Abroad, says interest in the UK has gone up 10X compared to earlier. Students studying in the US too, he says, are now changing their minds and prefer moving to Canada, since it’s closer.

Meanwhile, in terms of job searches, the Indeed report revealed that while the US still remains the top country of preference, Canada makes up for 17% of the job searches, followed by UA (13%), and UK at 10%.