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3 Ways Donald Trump's Election Could Affect International Students

4th April 2016 Posted by: Holly Smith

HE’S the man that the world is talking about; the subject of talk shows, comedy sketches and newspaper headlines. And even though his controversial opinions are sending him straight into the limelight (for all the wrong reasons), his support doesn’t wilt. Now, it’s about time to take Donald Trump seriously as the president and explore what effect his policies would have on the student world, if he were to be elected this November.

Trump’s policy on immigration reform is quite concerning for students who wish to travel, work and study in the States. With principles including visa restrictions, the prioritising of American workers and the termination of job programmes for foreign youths, your future in the USA as a student could be jeopardised. Let’s take a further look into some of his ideas and break them down.

1. Foreign student workers will be affected with the scrapping and replacing of the J-1 visa.

According to the Chicago Tribune, each year 300,000 students fly to America on a cultural exchange programme under the J-1 visa. Students from all around the world can work, study and live in the USA under this particular permit, and in certain countries such as Ireland, it’s almost a rite of passage to spend a summer in America. Trump however, wants to replace this with a programme for inner city youth. What that means for foreign students is at the moment, however, unclear.

Why does he want to do this? There is no set wage for workers who are hired under the J-1 visa. Henceforth, many companies prefer to employ the cheap labour of foreign students, rather than American citizens, where a minimum wage would be in effect.  This leads to Americans losing out on certain jobs and increases the country’s unemployment rate.

What would this mean for you? With no J-1, companies will struggle to employ foreign working students. Working at a summer camp, au pairing and interning are just a few of the roles that would be affected by the replacement of this visa. Not only this, but it would also affect the possibility for you to undertake an exchange semester at a US college. Right now his policy isn’t totally clear; but what is, is that there would be fewer opportunities for international students.

2. Americans will be prioritised in employment. 

In his manifesto, Trump states that there are two times more Americans who graduate with a STEM degree (science, technology, engineering and math) than what are needed in the workforce. He goes on to say that he’s proposing restrictions on the H-1B visa (a permit to allow U.S. employers to hire international professionals) so that companies are less likely to fly ‘cheaper workers from overseas’.

Why does he want to do this? Immigration levels in the USA are at an all time high, at the same time that unemployment levels are soaring. By adding restrictions to various visas such as the H-1B, Trump is prioritising American professionals over foreign professionals in order to fulfil his third key principle: ‘A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.’

What would this mean for you? If you’re hoping to head over to Silicon Valley once you graduate and work for a prestigious tech company like Microsoft or Apple, you may need to think twice about it. Thanks to these restrictions, companies would have to hire American citizens over you, even if you’re the better candidate. Not only this, but Trump also plans to also stop the issue of Green Cards while the country sorts out its immigration problem. The prospect of one day becoming an American citizen could get a lot more complicated.

3. Your religion would affect your right to study, intern and work.

With terrorism a growing threat in the world, Trump has recently opinionated many prejudices against the world’s second largest religion. He has publically declared that he would introduce a ban of all Muslims entering the country, and though he cannot put a blanket-ban on people of one religion by law, he will try and circumvent this. Even today, your faith could prevent you from studying at one of the world’s best universities or from interning at a top company.

Why does he want this? This is nothing new; Trump has been discriminating against Muslims throughout his campaign. But following the deadly terror attacks in both the USA and Europe in recent years, he has now declared that he wants to protect America and its citizens. How does he want to go about doing this? By stopping all Islamists from entering the country, even as tourists.

What would this mean for you? Trump has been reported saying that Muslims are 'apart from the West and cannot be seen as equal citizens'. As well as stopping people from entering the country, he also wants to stop Muslims getting any kind of immigration visa. Your dream to study at Harvard or Yale may have to be left as just a dream if this man were to come to power.

According to statistics, the USA enrolled a total of almost 1 million international students last year, with the top 3 sending countries being China, India and South Korea. Studying and working abroad is rewarding, inspiring and educational. However, after looking closely through his manifesto, if Trump were to win, the opportunity to experience this in America will probably be lost for many.

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This article was written in April 2016 and updated in April 2017.


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