Thursday, 16 July 2015

Immigrating to US - Consequences and Considerations - Part 1

The entire process of coming to US was filled with uncertainties and queries. Lots of research and continued applications is the usual route that most people take while coming to US from India. However, there are a few who just follow in the footsteps of those who are already here!
Now, I'm not naming anyone for obvious reasons. ;)
So, getting here in US is a big deal and sometimes not really a big deal. However, staying here for a continued period of time is definitely a big deal. With the current market situation and number of work visa applications (233,000 in 2015 nearly double from 124,000 in 2013) that had been filed this year (in spite of the fixed number of  85,000 visas available), it is evident that students and non-immigrant workers would have to look for innovative ways to continue their stay here in US.
I don't want to talk about the aftermath of studying here in US as that would be an entirely different story. Today, I want to talk a little about the process of getting here and how most people fail to see the obvious.
Being a lawyer from India, I always had to ask myself what am I going to do here in US. I initially thought about taking the LL.M. path and I honestly got through several prestigious colleges. However, research revealed that most of my fellow classmates from Delhi University had returned back to India after completion of their LL.M. from Harvard, Georgetown or even London School of Economics.
The road to a global work experience through LL.M. seemed bleak and I had to drop the idea of studying LL.M. However, life never stands still and with one thing leading to another, I got through MBA admission at UT and here I am today.
For prospective students, who are seeking admission into STEM courses or MBA, or even LL.M. in US, I have one recommendation. Do your own research, since it is only you who best knows where you are headed. You can definitely seek information from seniors, attend US admission-information sessions in India or even tag along with your relatives to US. But eventually, you have to consider not just the education and work opportunities, but also life in general in US. The culture, the people, the political waves of change and economic status in US should always be kept in focus while making a decision. However, more importantly, look inward, your family, home, India, economic opportunities in India and the changes that are relevant for the coming generation.
The whole work visa (OPT, L1 and H1-B) game adds an entirely separate dimension to your decision about landing here in US, so if possible, do take those into consideration too. Return migration, booming Indian economy, change in regulatory regime are also big considerations for the long run. Today, more Indians are returning back to India as things look brighter back home.
For LL.M. students, California and New York Bar (two of the toughest) are the only possible places you can practice as of now, unless you want to explore opportunities other than real practice.
For MBA and STEM students, think short-term and long-term, know about your strengths and always keep a global perspective in mind.
Getting to US is really not that difficult, but it is a question about what you want to do with living here?
The whole question about the legality of Universities providing random admission, students opting for CPT and OPT, the number of H1-B applications being filed by outsourcing consultants and the overall impact on the US workforce who are sidelined due to such events is another big humane consideration that should also be taken into account. The USCIS, DHS and legal think-tanks must be looking into solutions to avoid immigrants feeding into the jobs of US workers. However, I think the profit motive of companies and lobbies supporting such motives are mostly to blame for the current situation. I can understand skilled workers adding to the talent pool in US but are they really skilled if they are receiving 20% less wages compared to their US co-workers?
I will discuss the legalities revolving around such issues and the impact it has on immigrant workers in my next post.