The new US President Joe Biden was officially inaugurated on Jan. 20. For Chinese students who are studying in the U.S. and those who are still hesitating whether they should study in the U.S., whether the new president can bring a different study abroad policy from the Trump administration will influence their plans for their future development.
Relaxed immigration policy is attractive
Biden said during the election that he wanted to ease immigration policies, most notably plans to increase the number of H-1B (special professional/temporary work) visa slots and to allow some doctoral students to get permanent residency (green cards) directly.
As early as November 2020, Bloomberg indicated that the Biden administration intended to reduce restrictions on H-1B visas and green cards, and that a large number of foreign employed workers who have been brought into visa distress by the Trump administration could have their status resolved by these policies.
As the primary work visa category in the U.S., H-1B visas are issued to those engaged in professional and technical work, and holders generally possess high levels of education and special professional skills.
On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the elimination of the then-current H-1B lottery system and replaced it with a visa assignment process based on salary levels. This policy will make it difficult for new graduates to stay in the U.S., as most recent graduates will have difficulty competing with applicants with work experience for salary levels. The policy mainly affects high-tech talent from India and China.
At this time, however, there is no certainty that the policy will be implemented – on Biden’s first day in office, the White House sent a memo freezing pending regulations that have not yet gone into effect at various agencies, and the new policy of allocating H-1B slots according to salary is included.
In other words, the effective date of the new H-1B allocation policy, which has been issued but not yet implemented, will be delayed from March 9 to March 21, during which time the new administration may make changes to the policy. While this is not popular with all foreigners, it is an attractive condition for Chinese students to continue studying in the United States.
The San Jose Courier, a Silicon Valley media outlet, recently said it is unknown whether the Biden administration’s set of policies will be successfully implemented, but one thing is certain: there are currently 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. on H-1B work visas for spouses (H-4 visas), and the Trump administration has tried to revoke this group’s right to work legally in the U.S. and make it difficult for them to obtain green cards in the country.
The report said that this policy will be difficult to continue after Biden takes office. According to the Washington Post, Biden said green cards should be issued directly to U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) PhDs because they would “make the most important contribution to the development of the world economy.
Biden argued that “the loss of these highly educated and trained people to foreign countries would harm the competitiveness of the United States in the economy. If this policy is implemented, PhD students in STEM majors will no longer need to apply for work visas, which in turn will increase the chances of obtaining visas for master’s and bachelor’s degrees.
International students remain on the fence
After experiencing tighter and tighter visa policies over the past few years, international students are looking forward to the new policy after Biden takes office. However, from the international students currently in the U.S. interviewed by the Global Times, most of them still have a wait-and-see attitude.
Wang, a doctoral student at the University of California who is responsible for part of the student work, said that first of all, the policy proposed by Biden – such as the direct access to green cards for doctoral graduates in the U.S. – is only an immature idea at the moment and has not been officially put on the agenda, and there is absolutely no way to determine whether it will actually be implemented in the future. There is no way to determine whether it will actually be implemented in the future.
In addition, the new policy of determining work visa allocation based on salary has been called off, but it is not known if and how it will be modified. Therefore, it is still unknown how many favorable policies for international students will be implemented in the future by the Biden administration and how many of them will be successfully implemented.
In addition, students of different majors also have different views. Wang said, “It seems that even if some of the good news that may be available now does become a reality, it is obviously more favorable to practitioners with higher education, more popular majors, and longer time in the U.S., rather than international students who have just graduated or are about to graduate.
Gu, who studied sculpture as an undergraduate in China and is still debating whether to study in the U.S., said that Biden’s proposed immigration policy does not substantially help students majoring in liberal arts and art. Gu is considering that after the epidemic subsides, she can go to a European art university to matriculate and get into a graduate school, “Some European schools even have discounts for art majors and cheaper tuition.
Many international students hope that the Biden administration will enact some policies that are more favorable to current students and recent graduates, such as relatively lenient OPT (work permit for student visa holders).
Most concerned about the anti-epidemic policy and Sino-US relations
In fact, for international students coming to the U.S., they are more concerned about the new U.S. policies on epidemic prevention and the development trend of Sino-U.S. relations, which can be said to be more important than immigration policies.
A large number of international students coming to the U.S. are unable to enter the U.S. and have to take online classes at home, which greatly reduces the effectiveness of their studies. Therefore, several of the students interviewed expect that Biden will “make achievements in the fight against the epidemic as soon as possible, so that international students can enter the U.S. and return to campus safely and securely” after taking office.
Yu, who is currently a third-year student at a not-very-ranked college in Beijing, said his original plan was to apply for graduate school in the U.S. after graduation because he had good grades in school, “but if the epidemic continues to worsen, that idea will be put on hold.
“But if the epidemic continues to worsen, that idea will be put on hold. Now she has more than a year to go before graduation, which is usually the time to start preparing documents and related exams, and she is “very anxious now because I don’t know if I should hurry to prepare for the domestic graduate exams.
For many Chinese students still in the U.S., especially those who are no longer receiving family support for their master’s and doctoral degrees, the epidemic has affected the number of scholarships and job opportunities after graduation for many, but has increased living expenses.
Among Wang’s contemporaries and friends, many of them are facing financial difficulties and expressed their hope that “the next U.S. government bailout will be available to international students” and that “the U.S. government will provide more support to education and schools so that schools will have more funds and jobs to help international students I hope that the U.S. government will become more supportive of education and schools so that schools will have more funds and jobs to help international students finish their studies and find jobs.
In addition, the U.S.-China relationship remains one of the biggest factors in students’ willingness to study in the United States.
During Trump’s term, the relationship between China and the U.S. began to become tense, and some Chinese students with relatively sensitive majors began to worry that they would receive obstacles and restrictions on their research work in the U.S., or even endanger their personal safety, and their families had the same concern.
Wang said that before Trump’s tenure, “almost no one had such concerns and never felt they were treated differently. She said that the Chinese students around her generally hope that after Biden takes office, the treatment of international students and researchers in the U.S. “will return to the normal state in the past” so that they can study and work in a safer, freer and more relaxed environment.