Canada opens the door to international students while the US closes it

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The Government of Canada believes that international students should study in Canadian universities, not the United States. Unfortunately for US universities, including the Trump administration.

As Canada makes life easier for international students in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump officials are expected to take advantage of the current health crisis to impose new restrictions on those wishing to study and work in America.

The Trump administration has signaled that it will soon be limiting, suspending, or abolishing optional hands-on training (OPT). One approach would be to publish a preliminary final ruling, said William Stock of Klasko Immigration Law Partners in an interview. That’s not the only option, Stick notes, but one provisional final rule would allow the rule to take effect almost immediately. The regulation would only change if the Agency felt that public comments were justified.

The optional internship allows international students to work in the United States for 12 months, typically after graduation, and 24 additional months in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Universities see OPT as a way for students to improve their education in the United States by applying what they have learned in class. It also offers a more realistic chance of getting one of the tight H-1B visas by giving students more than one way to secure a spot in the annual H-1B lottery of 85,000 petitions.

“Students will no longer see the United States as an educational destination,” said Ravi Shankar, deputy provost and director of the International Services Office at the University of Rochester, of Michelle Hackman and Melissa Korn of the Wall Street Journal he assumes that the enrollment of foreign students would decrease if the OPT possibilities were “curtailed”.

The approach of the Canadian government and the Trump administration to international students could not be more different.

On May 14, 2020, the Canadian government announced considerable flexibility for international students, including maintaining their ability to work after graduation. “The Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on international students,” said a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. “In response to current health and travel restrictions, many designated learning institutions (DLIs) are offering their courses online. Post-secondary institutions and prospective students alike are thinking about their approach to the fall semester. Both have consulted with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada regarding eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible DLI this fall.

“Under normal circumstances, the criteria for the PGWPP will limit an international student’s ability to complete distance learning within or outside of Canada, and time spent studying outside of Canada will be deducted from the length of work permits for which they are eligible. The statement continued. “For international students whose courses will be online in autumn 2020 due to COVID-19, the eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program will not be affected. This is in line with guidelines for students who are already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date. ”(Emphasis added)

Canadian Immigration Services have taken another precaution: “Students in this situation can start their classes outside of Canada and complete up to 50% of their program remotely if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. In addition, no time will be deducted from the duration of any future post-graduate work permits until December 31, 2020 to study outside of Canada. “

International students are allowed to enter Canada if they “have a valid study permit or have been granted a study permit on or before March 18, 2020”. A student would still need to pass an airline health check before boarding a flight to Canada and “must have a plan to” Quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada. . . even if you have no symptoms. ”

The Canadian government has made it clear that it values ​​international students. “International education is a significant economic benefit for Canada as international students contribute $ 21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and secure nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018,” said the statement on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. “International students are also often excellent candidates to apply for permanent residency in Canada. In 2018, nearly 54,000 former students became permanent residents in Canada. “

“The flexibility our government is showing towards international students during this pandemic shows its importance to our educational institutions and immigrant selection programs,” said Peter Rekai of Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP in an interview.

“Young skilled people who are fluent in English or French, have Canadian degrees, Canadian work experience and ongoing employment opportunities, and who have paid full tuition for their education will be net contributors to Canada’s tax base for decades to come,” he said.

The expected move by the Trump administration to limit the work ability of international students after graduation has alarmed US universities and employers. In one letter To the President and Cabinet officials, 324 US employers and trade, industry, and college associations and groups wrote, “As the number of US post-secondary STEM degrees earned by F-1 nonimmigrants has continued to grow Accordingly, the optional hands-on training (OPT) program, including the STEM-OPT extension, has become a significant pipeline for the US STEM workforce. ”Businesses and organizations urged the Trump administration not to add new international students Impose restrictions.

The letter quotes a National Foundation for American Policy study by Madeline Zavodny, an economics professor at the University of North Florida who examined nearly a decade of data on OPT and concluded, “The results show that the OPT program does not reduce employment opportunities for American workers in STEM fields. “

“The relative number of foreign students admitted to OPT is negatively related to various measures of the unemployment rate among US STEM workers,” said Zavodny. “A larger number of foreign students admitted to OPT, relative to the number of US workers, is associated with a lower unemployment rate among those US workers.”

The government’s rationale for new restrictions is likely to raise eyebrows, analysts said. Data shows that the unemployment rate for people in computing has fallen from 3% in January 2020 to 2.8% in April 2020, according to one analysis of the Labor Statistics Office ” Current population survey from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). “The data raises questions about the Trump administration’s ability to use the unemployment rate of computer professionals to justify the new restrictions being considered for H-1B visa holders and international students working on them Optional practical training“Notes the NFAP analysis.

Immigration regulations make a difference, especially those that could prevent international students from pursuing their careers in the United States. If Canada keeps the doors of its universities open to international students while the Trump administration closes America’s doors, then many of the world’s most talented young people will learn to sing “O Canada” instead of “O say can you see”.

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