With the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S. bringing unemployment numbers to at least 26 million, international students are finding it hard to make their ends meet.
Every year, the United States is home to more than 1 million students international students. But finding a job is not an easy road.
“For international students, especially for mechanical engineering students, we do need to apply to a few hundred companies just to get a few interviews,” says Surya Veloor Sundar, a master’s student in University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Lowell. “It’s been really hard, but in the month of March as the pandemic hit, it’s even more harder.”
From India, Surya came to the U.S. in Fall 2018 to pursue higher education in Mechanical Engineering. This year (2020), he was expected to graduate with a job in hand along with a commencement ceremony which every international student dreams of. He didn’t get both.
At least 26 million people have requested unemployment benefits since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than a full-time job, on-campus jobs have also been suspended to maintain social distancing. “Students have resorted to getting some help from their parents. And that just adds on to our economic burden a little more,” Surya said. “It makes us to get a job even more sooner than we have thought.”
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that temporarily blocks some immigrants outside the U.S. to get Green Card or permanent residency – a move Trump said would protect American workers.
The pandemic has already cut off prospective job opportunities to students.
“Let’s see, let’s be positive,” Surya says. “It is.. what it is.”