With no visa in hand, many prefer to settle for US firms’ India offices
Posted on June 1, 2013
Thousands arrive at the gates of an engineering college lured by its promise: A job even before graduation. That is one reason why there is so much ado about campus placements each year. Students who get placed in slot zero occupy centre-stage. Many of the brightest ones are picked by companies that offer them dollar dreams and fly them out no sooner than they graduate.
This year, the offer to work in the United States came with agony and exhilaration, with a sweet promise but a bitter delay.
Visas opened and shut before these 21-year-olds had their first college degree in hand, forcing many to work at the US companies’ India offices or fly to another country for a year.
In some cases, a career that was about to kickstart was abruptly paused in the tracks. Companies that do not have branches anywhere else in the world have told the joinees to take an unpaid vacation and start work in the next financial year.
But there is an abiding fear about each of these arrangements that students are grappling with given the global economic heat.
LinkedIn has told students to spend a year at their Bangalore office, Facebook is sending those who have been freshly hired to Canada and Google has directed them to its offices in Europe. But companies like Epic Systems don’t have offices outside the US and they have assuaged hirees that their offers stand valid in 2014.
“I have an offer from a company that does not have an office outside the US. But I haven’t got a visa. So I will work for a year with Flipkart, from where I also have an offer,” an engineering student said. Although the US firm has kept the offer open for the next year, this student believes it’s better to have a contingency plan. A student from IIT-Delhi has launched his own start-up, while three students from IIT-Kharagpur plan to start a tutorial for a year before they can join a US software major.
Nearly 40 students from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, with offers from US firms, are spending a year trying something on their own or they will join another office of the company that has hired them.
Similar is the case with many engineers across campuses in India. The US visa office reached the statutory annual cap of 65,000 H1-B visas on June 11. The time taken to reach the cap was quicker this year than the past three years. After the economic slowdown in September 2008, it had taken seven to 10 months to hit H1-B caps in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. So, in the last few years, students had their degrees in hand before they went on to apply for visas.
“We had given students a ‘likely to graduate’ document to support their visa applications,” said Avijit Chatterjee, IIT-B placement head. But law firms hired by US firms to help students get visas said such a certificate was not enough to get a visa. Post-graduate students used their BTech degree to apply for visas. Aditya Srinivasan from the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences applied for a visa with a ‘likely to graduate’ certificate from his college but it is under process. He does not know if he will get a visa to fly out or if India will offer him an opportunity he will not be able to resist.
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