Mallika Sinha

Natasha Roy

CAS sophomore Mallika Sinha has always known she wanted to go to college in the United States. Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Sinha was encouraged by her father, who went to law school in Boston, to apply to universities in America.

“He just saw the huge difference in the system — the way students were taught, and the freedom they were given and just the general mindset of making students curious rather than just shoving information down their throats,” Sinha said. “My dad was hell-bent on me getting a really good college education.”

Once Sinha decided to attend NYU, she needed to apply for her student visa. The university sent her an I-20 form that proved she was admitted to the college. Then, Sinha went to an interview with a visa officer.

She said the process for obtaining a student visa is much easier than that of a travel visa. Though others can be denied a student visa if an officer does not find their interview to be legitimate enough, Sinha had no trouble getting a visa.

“A lot is based on how well your interview goes with the person across the counter,” Sinha said.  “It’s a lot of really basic questions, like where is your college, what’s the name, what are you planning on doing, but a lot of students are denied visas.”

She said officers may consider someone’s class when determining whether or not to give that person a visa.

“India’s really polarized in that sense — you can tell if someone’s rich or poor,” Sinha said. “I personally had no difficulty getting a visa, but I think that’s because I’ve visited the U.S. before — I lived in Boston for a year when my dad went to grad school.”

One challenge Sinha faces with her F-1 visa is a difficulty in securing internships. Student visas allow for Optional Practical Training, which lets international students get internships outside the university. However, she said it is difficult to get internships over students from the United States with the same qualifications.

“A lot of companies are just not willing to sponsor an internship,” Sinha said. “Most internships here are paid, and once you have to get paid they have to kind of go through the legal process.”

It is because of this that Sinha had to go back home to India this past summer instead of staying in New York. However, even if she were able to secure an internship, she would have faced additional difficulties.

“It’s a huge setback in terms of finding internships,” Sinha said. “If you’re looking for an internship during the summer, you have to find housing and food and stuff like that, and if people aren’t willing to sponsor your visa, it’s just more financially stressful for you.”

Sinha said that since she’s a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math student, she will be able to stay and work for 33 months because of her OPT after graduation. However, after this she will need to apply for an H1B that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers, which is difficult to get — even more so now that President Donald Trump is enacting restrictions on immigrants in the United States.

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” Sinha said. “I’d love to stay here because that’s the plan — you graduate, you get a job, you earn your dollars.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 10 print edition. Email Natasha Roy at [email protected]

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