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President Trump’s immigration ban - should international students be worried?

A new era has emerged in American and world geopolitics with the election of President Donald J. Trump. Many questions have arisen regarding his attitude towards foreign nationals and his US-centric approach in general. From what can be deduced from his actions since he took office, he is serious, and one of the groups that may be affected by this approach is international students, specifically from Muslim countries.

In one of his first actions as president, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. In his order, Trump specifically mentions international students. You can hear what he said about it here:

It is important to see the source and not just rely on what was said in the media. Here is the full text of the executive order:

The banned countries included in the order are:
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Somalia

How many international students actually come from these countries?
It may be surprising to find that from the list of banned countries, Iran is the one who sends the most students to the US - 12,269 students last year, with the rest of the countries sending less than half that number. When you think about the magnitude of the problem, the students affected by the situation are less than 2% of the total number of international students in the US. However, for the students who are affected, this is potentially a very serious issue, and it is hard to tell if it will affect many more over the course of Trumps presidency.

How have universities reacted?

The government has asked universities to supply lists of students from these countries. It appears that most universities are complying, with the University of Michigan standing out as not agreeing. There has for a long time, been a requirement that US universities report the number of international students on their campuses, via the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS). It is not clear if a new requirement came out now, and how much of it is political and media noise.

It is hard to assess what will stick after the noise dies down. The leaders of several major universities have issued statements and directives that they will support students without regard to their immigration status and that they will not partner with law enforcement agencies to proactively enforce the new federal immigration regulations. Universities are working hard to understand exactly who of their students and faculty are affected by the new order.

By Magister danko (Own work),
via Wikimedia Commons

I am an international student currently in the US - what should I do?
  • Do not travel outside the US while the executive order is in effect. You may not be able to come back! Don’t risk it.
  • Be in touch with the international office at your university to understand how they can support you through this period.
  • Carefully read the executive order and its implications on you.
  • Continue to follow, as additional countries may be added to the list while others may be removed pending the review process that will end in 90-120 days.

I applied to be an international student in the US next year – what should I do?
  • If your country is not on the list, you will most likely be able to pursue your studies as planned.
  • If your country is on the list, seriously consider applying to schools in other international destinations that will accept you: Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France and others.
  • If you are a dual citizen - US and one of the countries on the list, you will most likely be accepted. Though you may be detained and questioned upon your next entry to the US. Make sure to have legal backup just in case things get complicated. 

Is the party over?

International students contribute over $30 billion to the US economy each year, and are the economic force driving the survival of many major universities, especially given the US student financial aid bubble that may soon burst. Therefore, it is not likely that this executive order will change the upward trend in internationalization of education or significantly reduce the number of students who come to the US every year. We may see a more moderate growth curve this year and next, as the fear ensues, but the US will likely remain the number one destination for international students worldwide for the foreseeable future.

Still not sure what university is your best fit? Visit or download the GradTrain apps to try our university matching predictor! 

This post was written by Jacob Bacon, GradTrain’s Co-Founder and CEO and reflects his analysis of the current situation. Current or prospective international students should not rely solely on this analysis and should seek legal counsel for their individual case. If you want to receive further support from GradTrain regarding this issue, please visit our website at: https:///

The 7 international students you'll meet abroad

Studying abroad is an educational experience which opens opportunities to advance in one's career. It's also a great way to meet diverse people from all over the world. Here are the 7 international students you're going to meet while living abroad. 

1. The compulsive traveler - They've already been to 37 countries and are booking flights according to their layovers so that they can check 50 countries off their list before they turn 29. Studying abroad is probably the least interesting line on their resume, but if you ask them about how they climbed the Kilimanjaro, got stranded in the Brazilian rain forests, volunteered to save starving children in third world countries or survived an avalanche on the Everest they won't spare you with words. Good luck comparing your sad life to theirs.

2. The one who never left home - So physically, they did. But their mind is still at home. Whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend who they are Skyping with between classes, stalking their friends from home on Facebook, or staying in on a weekend to call their family, they are always connected. WatsApp, SnapChat, Messenger, Instagram, you name it - they're on it - 24/7. They even installed VPN to see their favorite TV show to stay updated. If you want to stay safe, never call them out on it - they'll never admit that they are just too plugged in or suffering from a chronic case of FOMO.

3. The ambassador - This international student didn't just come to study. They came to represent (the hood). They were wide aware of the broad exposure they'll get abroad to new cultures and identities and will push their agendas forward any chance they get. The observant will be able to spot a small flag on the ambassador's bag, key chain or clothes, but if you missed the early you'll probably recognize them when you say anything that relates to their country. Just don't start a political conversation with them... Thanks!

4. The newbie - They finally made it out of their homes. In fact, they made if furthest out of all the 400 people who studied with them in high school. They grew up in a town with a name you can't pronounce and after working in their parents' business they broke out into the world. Don't be surprised if they are a little nervous, it's still their first time abroad. 

5. The local - Are you dying to share the word about the hip restaurant you discovered last weekend? Don't bother. They've already been there, oh, and they know the owner too. The local was just born in the wrong country and moved to study abroad where they really belong. After all, it was their destiny and they show how assimilated they are every chance they get. They took a few language courses, and know all the local hits, they even dress like locals. You won't need a tour guide with someone like that on your side. Just make sure not to reveal their secret - yes, they've only been in the country for two weeks. 

6. The one who came to party - It's not easy coming to school hungover everyday, but we only live once and what better way is there to enjoy the time abroad by jumping from party to party. After all, memories  and experiences is what it's all about right? This student didn't do much research about the study program or university they applied to, but they did calculate the time it would take them to walk from the bar home and how much money they'd save on taking a taxi. You'll be able to recognize them pretty easily - they're the ones passing out on their tables in class.

7. The culture shocked - Moving to a foreign country and not knowing the language is not as easy as they thought. This student learned it the hard way. Their honeymoon phase was short and now they are just stuck in between being frustrated and anxious. Let's just say that things didn't really turn out the way they wanted them to. Don't worry, it's not contagious.

So which one are you? 

To get help with your application to a top universtiy in the US, Canada, Germany, France, and more, go to:

5 Ways to create a support system when applying to universities abroad

Job opportunities, personal development and interesting life experiences are a few reasons to study abroad leading prospective students to send online application forms to universities and colleges abroad. Millions of students are longing to make their dream a reality and study abroad in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the USA, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Italy, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Russia as well as other destinations.

Gathering information and compiling all of the materials is the first step to setting a foot in a top university campus abroad. Emotional roller coasters and overcoming many challenges is also a part of the journey, so here’s how you can create a support system to help you through the hardships.

Find a partner to ride the waves with

When Jack Johnson wrote the song “Better Together” he probably wasn’t referring to a study abroad application process, but the saying works quite well in this case too. Sending applications to universities together with a partner with the same motives in mind is easier than alone.

Here’s how it can help:
  • Information gathering, brainstorming ideas and strategizing is more effective in groups.
  • Staying on track and reminding one another of due dates and application deadlines.
  • Studying for the TOEFL test, IELTS, GMAT exam or the GRE exam.
  • Motivation.

An average of 5 million students move abroad to study every year, so there must be someone who is trying to hack how to study abroad near you.

A few ways to locate someone near you include:

  • Attending study abroad events, seminars and conferences in your city.
  • Logging on to local portals and forums to ask around.
  • Writing a post on local Facebook groups and study abroad groups.
  • Asking your friends if they know anyone – word to mouth always helps.
If you’ve already done your Bachelors’ and are interested in doing an MBA, Ph.D. or a Masters’ program, linking up with another graduate from university can also help.

If you haven’t found anyone to partner up with, don’t worry. There are more ways to get valuable help.

Get help from alumni

Getting an alumni to help out is like finding a big brother figure who was once in your shoes and can help you grow from where you are to where you want to be.  Even Albert Einstein once said that the only source of knowledge is experience – so use this valuable knowledge.

Use your role model’s technical experience to understand the criteria and bureaucratic procedures when applying. Take advantage of their professional knowledge and ask them to review your application materials. You’ll probably also have many questions about how to get funding or a scholarship for your studies or how to get an auto loan as an international student.

Don’t forget to also ask:

  • What worked for them and what didn’t for them.
  • Their emotional experience through the process. What was hard to deal with and what was harder? It’s good to know in advance to prepare for the hardships and know what to concentrate on.
  • Where they got their help?
  • The chronological order of the application process and how to relocate.

Talk to faculty members in your target universities:

International students are a valuable group not only because of the economic growth they bring to universities and the countries they stay in but also because they create diversity.

Universities around the world have an interest to recruit international students – so use it!

Who should you talk to?

There’s office for international students on almost all campuses. Contact your target university’s consultants and get all of the information which you weren’t able to find online or were unsure about. Most faculty members can be contacted by mail or phone.

Before contacting the admissions office, check the admission criteria and see whether or not you have the chance to get accepted to universities abroad.

Talk to your professors

For those of you who have already completed your first degree and are looking to complete a higher degree abroad, talking to a professor can be useful.

You’ve probably noticed that most of your professors have some sort of studying abroad experience on their resume. This means that they not only have the experience to guide, but they also have amazing contacts and networks abroad.

Approaching a professor and getting guidance might not suit everyone. It’s a bold move and really depends on your prior relationship with them. If you worked with a professor you would probably feel more comfortable to do it, but if you have just taken a class with them think about how you can approach the issue without coming off as rude or inappropriate.

Contact someone in the country you are moving to for a smooth landing

Knowing someone at the location you are moving to is incredibly helpful, whether it’s an old friend, a family member, or a second connection who you haven’t met.

People who have experienced living abroad know what it feels like to be a foreigner and are usually open to make someone else feel less culture shocked and a little more at home.

Finding someone can personally ask your friends if they know someone, or write a public post on Facebook. If you have a hobby, like boulder climbing, biking or any other group sport, contact the local communities at your destination and ask how you can connect. There are also many Facebook groups and forums for students and expats from different destinations all over the world.

Ask them about choosing the destination, finding a job, the living expenses, finding an apartment and more.  These groups will allow you to connect and learn more about your destination.

Don’t hesitate to create your own support system to help you
study abroad and achieve your dreams.

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