Struggles for international students in America

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According to WBUR, over one million international students travel to the United States each year to attend college, but the struggle comes once they graduate. 

America offers several opportunities for young adults, giving many the desire to become international students at U.S. colleges. 

Elijah Howe is a student at Michigan State University from Australia. 

“There are a bunch of reasons to come to the states for school and I have actually spent time at three different American universities in three different states,” Howe said. “One of my favorite parts is seeing all of the different cultures that come together here, specifically at MSU.” 

According to the Michigan State Office for International Students, there were over 4,200 foreign students studying at MSU in 2021 from many different regions and backgrounds. 

“About 10 to 12 percent of our students are international students,” said Krista McCallum Beatty, the director of the Office for International Students at MSU during a Fox47 interview. “It’s very much part of the culture of MSU to have internationals here.” 

Sean Kerrigan is another Spartan international student that came from Ireland to play for the men’s soccer team. 

“I came to the U.S. to play college soccer and because of all of the incredible opportunities that come with being an athlete at a Big Ten school,” Kerrigan said. “It is very different than being in Ireland, but I think that is what made it so appealing.”

Although there are plenty of positives to coming to America for school, being away from things that are normal to someone can be very difficult. 

“One thing that is hard is not being able to go home for most breaks,” Howe said. “I haven’t seen my family or close friends from home in over a year and I think about that often.”

Kerrigan agreed in large part with Howe’s opinions. 

“The hardest part for me is seeing the guys with their families after our games and not having anyone there for me,” Kerrigan said. “I miss my family and it is hard having a big time change too because I rarely am able to talk to them, but that is just one of the tradeoffs one makes when they decide to come here.” 

While there are more than a million currently studying in the U.S., the majority of international students have a difficult time staying once they graduate. 

According to a WBUR radio station report, only 11% of international students that receive their bachelor’s degrees in America end up staying. One important thing to note as well, is that number is much lower than the amount of people that want to stay.

There are multiple visas that recent graduates can get, but they do not make it easy for people to stay and work. For one to get an H-1B visa, they need an employee sponsor, and even once they get that they still need to get lucky enough to get through the lottery system. Even those who receive a master’s degree in the United States have a long road in front of them to be able to be legally in the country. 

WBUR looked at the story of a man and his wife, who both came to America for college and decided they wanted to stay after they graduated. After multiple years of waiting and unsuccessfully trying to become a legal worker in the U.S., they decided to move to Toronto and were able to work their rather simply. This is one of thousands of educated people that leave the United States and work in other countries. 

“I will likely not stay here after graduation,” Howe said. “I have appreciated my time here, but there are so many hoops you have to jump through to stay in America and I think I would prefer to take my abilities back to Australia or another country.” 

The United States provides fantastic education opportunities for international students, but don’t reap the positive repercussions when the highly educated take their talents to other places. 

“Unless I have an opportunity to play soccer in America, I don’t see myself staying,” Kerrigan said. “I am fortunate for the opportunity to be here and play here, but once I am no longer a student, it feels like other countries want me more and would fit me better.”

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