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Trump promises Green Cards to foreign students on graduation

Washington : Former US President Donald Trump has said if he is re-elected, his administration will pursue a programme to grant Green Cards to foreign students automatically upon graduation from American colleges and universities.

Students from India, which is the second largest source country for foreign students, stand to be the largest beneficiaries if Trump is indeed re-elected and delivers on his promise.

Together with students from China, which is the top source country, they account for 53 per cent of all foreign students enrolled in 2023.

The Trump campaign has already rolled back the former President’s comments already, saying shortly after that the programme will use an “aggressive vetting process” to keep out “all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters and public charges (poor foreigners who are unable to fend for themselves and need government)”.

Trump’s remarks came in a podcast with two Silicon Valley investors on Thursday. When asked to promise he will bring the best and the brightest from around the world to America, he said: “I do promise, but I happen to agree.”

“What I will do is – you graduate from a college, I think you should get automatically, as part of your diploma, a Green Card to be able to stay in this country, and that includes junior colleges.”

A Green Card allows the holder to stay and work in the US permanently – Permanent Residency – and it is a step away from full citizenship. The US grants an estimated 1 million Green Cards every year and it also receives 1 million foreign students every year, mostly from China and India.

If the former President does indeed deliver on this promise if elected, it would mark a major expansion of the programme, doubling the number of Green Cards issued annually.

But the big question is if he will indeed deliver on this promise.

When in office from 2017 to 2021, his administration had tried to restrict the intake of immigrants and, in fact, targeted Indians coming to the US on H-1B short-term non-immigrant work visas. Before taking office, he had supported the H-1B programme.

A large majority of Indian students in US schools and colleges go on to work for American companies on H-1B visas and then go on to Green Cards and citizenship. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen are prominent examples. Foreign students have to go through the stage of H-1B or other work visas to get to Green Cards. Former President Trump is promising to remove that stage and grant foreign students Green Cards along with their degrees.

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