The Future of Indian Students Abroad Amid Shifting Visa Norms

The Future of Indian Students Abroad Amid Shifting Visa Norms

New Delhi (India), May 30: For decades, studying abroad has been a cherished dream for countless Indian students for a brighter future, unlocking doors to global careers and enhanced knowledge. According to the Indian Student Mobility Report 2023, nearly 13 lakh Indian students have participated in the study abroad programmes. The US (69%) topped other popular choices like the UK (54%), Canada (43%), and Australia (27%), stated the second edition of Oxford International’s Student Global Mobility Index report. However, with countries enforcing stricter immigration policies and increasing scrutiny of foreign students, Indian students who aspire to study abroad are facing numerous challenges.

What are the Factors Driving the Education Abroad Trend?

Diversity of Academic Programs: Foreign universities boast a rich tapestry of academic programs, encompassing both traditional subjects and emerging fields. They also offer a plethora of niche specialisations within broader disciplines that help Indian students to delve deeper into specific areas of interest to thrive in a globalised world.

Global Exposure: Students get to interact with people from different backgrounds, and learn new languages and cultures. The exposure to different cultures ultimately boosts confidence and enhances skillsets as per global standards.

Availability of Scholarships: A multitude of scholarships and financial aid options are offered by foreign universities, significantly covering a portion of tuition fees. Some of the most sought-after scholarships include Merit-Based Scholarships, Need-Based Scholarships, Subject-Specific Scholarships, Government Scholarships, etc. This allows students to gain global exposure while offsetting high educational costs.

Access to Advanced Technology and Innovation: Students believe that studying at universities abroad specialise in state-of-the-art technology and innovation, which can give them an edge in their chosen field of study. 

Anuj Gupta, CEO of Youngrads says, “The study abroad trend sets a multitude of benefits for students like global network building, international exposure, enhanced employability, etc. Students can embrace the opportunity to demonstrate their strong academic credentials and gain international exposure by immersing themselves in a new culture.”

The Shifting Visa Landscape:

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the visa policies of several key destination countries, including: 

Australia: The Australian government’s recent changes include higher English proficiency test scores. The Temporary Graduate visa score has increased from IELTS 6.0 to 6.5, and for a student visa, from IELTS (or equivalent) 5.5 to 6.0. Financially, students must show evidence of $29,710 to be eligible for a student visa, a 17 percent hike from previous levels. The Genuine Student Test has replaced the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement. 

Canada: Canada has capped the number of student visas at 360,000, a 35 percent drop as compared to last year. Open work permits are only available to spouses of overseas students pursuing Masters or doctoral programmes. Student permit applications now require a letter of attestation from a Canadian province confirming its capacity to accommodate the applicant.

United Kingdom: The UK visa fees have surged from £363 to £490, an increase of 35%. There have also been revisions in the Immigration Health Surcharge from £675 to £1,035. The UK has also announced that international students from 2024 will be restricted from bringing in dependent family members with them as they pursue their studies. 

United States of America: The US embassy has declared that all F, M, and J student visa applicants must use their own passport information while creating a profile and scheduling visa appointments. F or M visa applicants must enrol in a school or program certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Students applying for a J visa need sponsorship from a US State Department-approved organisation.

“The visa norm changes have diverse implications for Indian students planning to pursue overseas education. The modified visa regulations require additional academic documentation or verification processes, increased financial considerations and academic qualifications. It is crucial for Indian scholars to consider the impact of these changes on their educational goals in the long run and to take proactive steps by planning strategically.”, suggests Anuj Gupta. 

How to Navigate the Complexities?

As Indian students navigate the dynamic landscape of study visa changes, long-term educational planning becomes a critical aspect of their academic journey, including: 

Students must constantly stay updated on alterations in study visa regulations to make informed decisions about their academic pursuits.

Indian students can reassess their long-term educational objectives and align them with the revised visa prerequisites. 

Engaging with reputable educational consultants or advisors specialising in international student applications who can offer valuable insights.

The stricter norms in top countries like Australia including Heightened English Language Requirements, Genuine Student Test, Limited Visa Sanctions, etc. lead to a higher rejection rate for Indian students and might restrict their exposure. For Instance, the Temporary Graduate visa programs in Australia, effective from July 1, 2024, aims to realign the visa streams with the levels of study undertaken by applicants.

Adapting to the modified visa prerequisites involves careful planning and proactive measures to ensure a seamless transition into international educational institutions. By remaining updated on visa regulations and accessing valuable support networks, students can navigate the evolving study visa landscape effectively, ultimately realising their aspirations for global academic pursuits.

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