Sekerci: The hardest 60 days for an international student


Burak Sekerci, Columnist

Every year, American universities host about 820,000 international students. These students come to the United States hoping to find better opportunities for themselves and their future families — opportunities that often don’t exist in their home countries. They come here to live the American dream.

However, after their first year here, international students often see their circumstances are not as secure as they thought. Post-graduation, these students have only 60 days to stay in America before their student visas expire.

For U.S. colleges, it is graduation season, that time of year when parents watch their kids walk up to the podium, get their diplomas and start real adult life. But this time is bittersweet for some international students who can’t find jobs to sponsor them for new visas that allow them to stay after student visas expire 60 days following graduation. These 60 days become a race for the limited H-1B and OPT visas, which are given to only 155,000 people every year.

These visas can only accommodate roughly 19 percent of international students who graduate each year. It is absurd the United States educates these students but does not use their education in its own companies. Because human capital is so important to production, denying almost 665,000 potential workers the right to remain in the United States and work for U.S. companies is crazy.

The number of international students in American colleges rises every year. However, with current immigration laws, international students may not be willing to come to the United States for school in the near future. This poses a problem for the United States because international students generate more than $24 billion in revenue each year, according to the Institute of International Education. This figure is especially significant considering many American schools provide scholarships to Americans while giving few scholarships to international students. Thus, international students create few net costs for U.S. colleges while bringing substantial revenue to the economy. Deterring international students with harsh immigration laws would cause a major outflow of money from the United States.

According to a recent opinion piece in Forbes, most international students in the United States are STEM majors. They are America’s future engineers, scientists and doctors. The U.S. government should ease its restrictions on visas for foreigners following college graduation to improve the transition of international students into their careers. As a result, both international students and U.S. colleges can prosper.

Burak Sekerci is a McCormick sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].