Trump has yet to negatively impact students

International student at Chico State

Alex Grant

International student at Chico State

Nov. 8 marks the one year anniversary of the presidential election day in 2016. Many people expected Trump to have some effect on international students coming to the U.S. but it’s hard to pinpoint a statistical number or percentage that measures Trump’s impact.

According to a 2017 study that analyzed 250 U.S. colleges, 39 percent of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications. However, this data can easily be misconstrued as this study also found that 35 percent of responding institutions also reported an increase in international applications.

Interim Associate Vice President of International Education Dr. Frank Li believes Trump’s impact on international student enrollment won’t be statistically shown until next year.

“I expect the impact to really kick in for the next year, especially the 2017-18 numbers,” Li said. “I think (this year) is going to be very similar to (last year) because the Trump Effect, if any, will not kick in before the ‘16-’17 year.”

While the numbers don’t reflect any “Trump Effect”, individual stories and voices show otherwise.

According to Joe Soe, an international student from Myanmar, Trump has instilled fear in U.S. companies, thus limiting the employment options for foreign students.

“Even though there no laws right now about the H-1B visa from Trump, (companies) still feel very vague and very uncertain about the future and what he’s going to do,” Soe said. “They feel that they can’t make a decision right now for hiring more international students which means sponsoring less H-1B visas.”

It’s important to note that anecdotal evidence doesn’t hold the same weight as unbiased, statistical data. However, listening to international student voices and stories can give U.S. citizens a taste of what Trump means to foreigners.

H-1B visas are employment visas that U.S. employers use to hire international people or non-citizens. Trump has talked about making the H-1B process tougher for employers, but has yet to change this process. However, last April, Trump released a Buy American and Hire American Executive Order. This order focused on spurring American jobs but also included a small part about H-1B visas.

“In order to promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries,” Section 5(b) of Trump’s executive order states.

Once again this legislation doesn’t show any drastic changes for international students, but it hints at some sort of reform. And according to Soe, it’s these types of incidents or uncertainties that instill fears into both international students and companies that use H-1B visas.

“Trump didn’t make any legislation that bans international student jobs or something like that, but the action on the immigration ban actually fears a lot of companies,” Soe said.

According to Li, however, regardless of these fears and their impacts on international students, no policy can stop immigration and globalization efforts.

“We’re no longer talking about neighbors down the street, we’re talking about neighbors across the world,” Li said. “I think everybody recognizes that, and that’s not going to change. No matter what policy changes take place at the very top in our government.”


Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news.