Ilaya Bharathi of Preston Education Consultancy is finding himself in a peculiar situation. Where every year Bharathi has hundreds of students aspiring to study in the US, in the last few weeks about 27 students, who were applying to Columbia and Berkeley University , have changed their minds and are applying to Ireland -a country which allows students to stay on with a two-year work permit after graduation. As Trump's protectionist moves create ripples across the globe, the large international student community seems to be the next in his line of fire. According to news reports, the Trump administration is looking to cut the time students in the US can stay on in the country after they finish their studies. Currently , optional practical training (OPT) extensions for graduates with STEM (science, technology , engineering and mathematics) allow about 1.6 lakh Indian students to stay on for one to three years after they graduate. These students might have to return home as soon as they graduate if President Trump's proposals for change kick in.

Navin Chopra, chairman, The Chopras, said, “Every year, I send 12,00013,000 students to various countries, of which US bound-students form the largest percentage. Of this, 1518% of my clientele are Muslims, who are extremely concerned over recent developments. “

Students are also shifting gears midway. Last year, Bharathi's firm sent 130 students overseas. “About 90% of them are calling me today as they are worried about their stay. They are consulting me on options for another Masters programme, as they fear being asked to leave the minute their course gets over,“ he said. His student clients are mostly engineers from IIT, BITS and MITS.

With Trump's flaming rhetoric sending shock waves, both government and universities in Canada, Ireland, Germany and Switzerland have come out in support of accepting international students, irrespective of faith. “Students are now looking at more attractive destinations, “said Chopra. In recent months, the UK has also severely restricted the stay of foreign students.