Author: Rui Editor: Ye Zhen
Production|Shenzhen·Tencent News Xiaoman Studio



"The graduation ceremony of Columbia University in 2019 was held on the campus square, and there were lots of people. Graduates would line up to shake hands with the dean and principal. When the principal dropped the degree-granting files into the basket, the students cheered loudly. Finally graduated." Lin Yi remembered the grand occasion.


To celebrate the students' graduation, the roof of the Empire State Building will be lit up two days ago, which belongs to Columbia University's unique blue color. Lin Yi feels that it is particularly beautiful from a distance. Columbia University is located in Manhattan, New York City, on the edge of the Hudson River and north of Central Park. It was founded in 1754 and is one of the Ivy League schools.
The Empire State Building celebrates the graduation of Columbia students in blue light


Lin Yi is a Chinese student at Columbia University. She majored in Educational Technology. Lin Yi never expected that the graduation ceremony of the senior brothers and sisters was unprecedented, but the graduation ceremony belonging to her current graduates was just a pre-recorded video.


In a 58-minute video, after school promotional videos, student campus snapshots, a speech by the principal, online degree awards, and congratulations from a number of well-known alumni, Lin Yi’s only "sense of participation" is a flash on the screen. Of her name. Lin Yi feels that this is probably the "most deserted" graduation ceremony in Columbia history.
Lost to luck and the "draw"


Affected by the epidemic, graduation ceremonies of many Ivy League universities have been held online this year. Lin Yi's master's graduation ceremony was held online on May 5. At this time, when she had just returned to China, she was quarantining in a hotel in Fuzhou. "The online graduation ceremony is fine, there is no one to watch and celebrate together." Lin Yi was a little lost.


After watching the ceremony, Lin Yi leaned on the seat and sighed deeply. Whether it is deserted or lively, this is a trivial matter compared to job hunting. Many Chinese students she knows have not had a smooth job search in the United States this year. Affected by the epidemic, Silicon Valley, known as the global Internet holy land, is also experiencing large-scale layoffs.
US West 8.31 10:30 AM Google Park is empty
The places where Google engineers used to relax and eat were also relatively deserted


According to statistics, as of June, the number of companies that have announced layoffs in Silicon Valley has reached 6, and the total number of layoffs exceeds 117. "I have received a notice that I will not physically resume work this year," a senior Google manager told Deep Web.


Large-scale layoffs and withdrawal of offers are a bad signal for Chinese students who initially chose to stay abroad for a few years after graduation. Some of their offers received at the beginning of the year were suddenly withdrawn; some were repeatedly frustrated on the way to obtain H1B visas; some were forced to consider domestic job opportunities due to the pressure of massive layoffs in Silicon Valley this year.


Zhong Qi, who just graduated from Ivy League school this year, was taken back in his offer-moving to save costs-looking for a new job-preparing to give up. He walked through this cycle.


Because of the epidemic, the job opportunities Zhong Qi had negotiated at the beginning of the year in the United States vanished. In order to apply for OPT (students with an F1 visa have 1-3 years of internship after graduation, but need to apply for an internship permit in advance), he must stay in the United States for 90 days before graduation.


According to statistics, in 2017, 16% of Chinese students were able to obtain H1B visas after graduation (the main type of work visa in the United States, issued to foreign employees with professional skills employed by American companies, which are a type of non-immigrant visa ), can stay in the United States for a short time, but in 2019 this proportion has dropped to 5%.


"This year, in the context of the tightening of offers by US employers during the epidemic and the massive layoffs in Silicon Valley, this ratio will decrease," Zhong Qi predicted.


Even if the offer is cancelled, in the eyes of many Ivy League graduates, Zhong Qi's situation is not the worst, because compared with other students who only have a one-year internship after graduation, Zhong Qi graduated from STEM. At least 36 months of legal internship period.


根据美国2016年5月10日开始实施的OPT延长提案,在美国学习STEM专业的国际学生毕业后可以获得长达3年的实习时间。也就是说,只要钟奇在毕业的3年内拿到美国中大型雇主的offer,就离H1B 签证更近一步了。


However, Zhang Xi's experience gradually dispelled Zhong Qi's original intention to work in the United States for a few years.


In 2018, Zhang Xi obtained a master's degree in computer science and got an offer from a mid-sized technology company in Silicon Valley. After the formal employment, the company's lawyer team began to apply for H1B visas for foreign talents hired by the company. According to regulations, the validity period of the first US H1B visa is three years. After the three-year period expires, it can be extended for another three years. During these six years, the company will help foreign employees who have obtained H1B visas to apply for green cards.


However, it is a matter of luck to get the H1B visa, because this quota is not obtained through our own efforts, but is selected through a random lottery by a computer. "Just like the number of license plate numbers in some cities need to be lottered, after preparing all the information, it is up to fate to win the draw," Zhang Xi said.




Judging from the results of the lottery, Zhang Xi is obviously not the type of person favored by luck. In 2019 and 2020, Zhang Xi did not draw twice. Zhang Xi, who was still able to work legally in the United States for more than one year, pressed Bao on the 1 application and lottery. “I sometimes even wonder if I want to go bye bye. If I fail to draw three times, I can only return to China. Start over," Zhang Xi was a little helpless.
"The bonus of studying abroad is gone"


"From the perspective of the gold content of studying abroad and the job opportunities in the United States, the bonus period of studying abroad has passed," said Yong Gang, the founder of your school, to "Shen Wang". Five years ago, Yong Gang quit his job at Morgan Stanley and returned to China to start a business. Starting from the online education community and community, he founded "You My School", which is positioned as a "public comment on education and training institutions".


Yonggang’s biggest feeling is that the business models that can be accessed abroad have already appeared in China, and even developed better. Under the situation that there is basically no information gap at home and abroad, the road to domestic entrepreneurship by introducing foreign models is no longer feasible. .


Regarding the idea of ​​enjoying the "dividend of studying abroad", Yong Gang joked, "It can also be said that from the experience of returning to China in the past five years, I also missed a lot of those who did not choose to return to China to start a business earlier." In 5, Yong Gang graduated from San Jose State University with a master's degree in electronic engineering.


The year that Yong Gang graduated, Chen Yizhou returned to China with his two Stanford University alumni Yang Ning and Zhou Yunfan. Before they went back to China together, and came to a conclusion: China's Internet entrepreneurship is a vacant land, and later they founded It was also that year that Zhang Chaoyang was selected as one of the top 50 digital heroes in the world by Time magazine.


In 1995, Zhang Chaoyang, who walked off the gangway of the plane, rubbed his hands and strode out of the airport with two suitcases, and he was greeted with an uncertain future. A few years earlier, or a few years later, they have only one reason for returning to China: Although they have a high salary in the United States, they can’t find themselves. It is better to return to China to start a business.


Whether Zhang Chaoyang or Chen Yizhou, they were all sent to the forefront by the waves of the times. Some choose to return, while others choose to stay. Yong Gang chose to stay in the United States after graduation.
Zhang Chaoyang is selected as one of the top 50 digital heroes in the world by Time magazine


"The situation when we were looking for a job was that the company came to the school to grab people before graduation. After I received an offer from VSLI (this company has been acquired by Samsung), the company's lawyer contacted me as soon as possible. , To assist in processing relevant materials for H1B visa application. After the first application, the lottery was drawn," Yong Gang said.


Yong Gang recalled that after getting the H1B visa, the company's lawyers began to assist him in applying for a green card. "The process of applying for a green card is more complicated than applying for an H1B visa."


Yong Gang introduced that when the company applies for H1B visas to foreign employees who have obtained an offer, it needs to announce the position first. The company needs to open the job positions provided to foreign employees to domestic citizens of the United States. If there are no Americans to apply for this position after three months, the U.S. Department of Labor will begin to accept the company's application and issue H1B visas after review.


After obtaining the H1B visa, the company will provide the company profile and the H1B visa of the foreign employee to the U.S. Immigration Service, and declare the i-140 form (i.e. immigration application form) for the U.S. Immigration Bureau. Application form for change of status); After the 485 form is approved, the foreign employee can formally obtain a green card and live permanently in the United States.


“From applying for the H1B visa to applying for the green card, I spent a total of one and a half years.” After Yong Gang got the green card, he moved to Morgan Stanley to work and settled down in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years.


You can apply for a green card within one and a half years after graduation. It seems strange to Lin Yi, Zhong Qi, and Zhang Xi. “I haven’t heard of any seniors or classmates who have obtained H1B visas, let alone start applying for green cards.” Zhong Qi said.


Yong Gang believes that the H1B visa winning rate is getting harder and harder mainly due to two factors, one is personal choice and professional ability; the other is the changes of the times that are difficult for individuals to control.


“It can be seen from the process of the US Department of Labor’s issuance of labor certifications that American employers provide international students with offers that Americans cannot do or are unwilling to do, at least in our time,” said Yong Gang.


According to Yong Gang, there are three main types of jobs that Americans cannot do or do not want to do. One is high-end majors such as aerospace, nuclear energy, electronic engineering, and computer; the other is nurses. There are 40 nurses in the United States every year. The third is cotton picking. , Raising turkeys, cleaning and other types of labor.


"However, in the past five years, due to issues such as information protection and intellectual property rights, international students who graduated from aerospace and nuclear energy have basically been unable to find jobs in the United States. Nowadays, most international students with a high degree of education can stay in computer and STEM related majors. ", Yong Gang added.


From the perspective of changes in the times, the difficulty of drawing lots is mainly due to the explosive growth of Chinese students studying abroad in more than 10 years.


According to statistics, before 1999, the number of students studying in the United States had been hovering around 3. In 2017-2018, among the students studying in the United States, the number of students from China was 36, a 12-fold increase. "There are too many monks and less porridge, and it is normal to draw lots more and more difficult," Yong Gang said.


Is it worth spending 100 million to study abroad in two years?


It is getting harder and harder to get an H1B visa, and the information gap at home and abroad is getting smaller and smaller. Is it worth spending more than 100 million to study a graduate student at an Ivy League school in two years? Lin Yi and Zhong Qi gave different answers to this question.
Columbia campus


Lin Yi believes that the two years of studying abroad allowed him to experience the learning atmosphere of the Ivy League school, European and American culture and life system, and the human resources of different cities. The most regrettable thing was the online graduation ceremony. "I originally wanted to find my parents to come to school to attend my graduation ceremony. I even thought about the content of the speech, but it was useless," Lin Yi said.


But in Lin Yi's view, apart from the shortcomings brought about by the online graduation ceremony, everything else went smoothly.


In the Linyi Study Abroad Program, after graduation, he will join a well-known domestic factory and become a product trainee in its core department. For this established goal, Lin Yi began preparing for online interviews at the beginning of last year, and already got an offer from this big factory in May. Currently, Lin Yi, who has obtained the electronic diploma, has officially entered the job.


"Although I chose to study for a master's degree at an Ivy League school, I decided to return to work after graduation before going abroad. I didn't want to stay abroad for development, so this epidemic has little effect on me," said Lin Yi. Now Lin Yi, who has joined a domestic Internet company, faces another problem: how to settle in Beijing?


"The Internet company I work for recruited a large number of graduates from Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Stanford this year. According to the current registration standards, it is still unknown whether they can be registered within two years." Lin Yi said, "If I advance After two years of graduation, it is not difficult to solve the registered permanent residence. The dividends of the times of international students, we have basically not enjoyed this wave.


Xiaolou is one of the Chinese students who just went to an Ivy League school to study for a master's degree last year. Affected by the US epidemic, many Chinese students including Xiaolou returned to China in batches from April to June. According to Xiaolou, his school announced the suspension of classes two days before the spring break (March 4), and has been taking online classes since then.


"The biggest breakdown is that when I can go back to school is always unknown. For me, going to the Ivy League school is mainly to broaden my international perspective, experience the local culture and cultural environment, and enjoy the resources of the city. These are not online. The experience that the class can bring," Xiaolou said.


A few days ago, Xiaolou received an email notification from the school to increase the tuition fee, "The tuition fee for each credit has increased by more than 50 US dollars."


In order to make up for the regrets caused by online classes, Xiaolou began to look for a place to provide a base for these Ivy League students. Similar to a miniature university, students from the same Ivy League school can gather together for class and life.


"For the regrettable not being able to go to school and live in the United States for the time being, I found a way to create it back in China. At present, this idea has been resonated in EdwithU's group of friends (a community that pays attention to educators at home and abroad)," Xiaolou said.


For Zhong Qi, who originally wanted to stay and work in the United States for a few years, he felt that his experience of studying abroad in an Ivy League school this year and a half was a bit worthless. Zhong Qi first calculated an account from the cost point of view, "The cost of studying and living in the United States for two years was at least 100 million yuan."


According to Zhong Qi, many graduates from Ivy League schools have credit requirements, and tuition fees are charged according to credits. Zhong Qi's Ivy League school can graduate with enough 32 credits for a master's degree. One credit is more than 1700 dollars, and the tuition fee for each credit will increase every semester in the future. According to this standard, the tuition for two years will cost about US$5.


In addition to tuition fees, the mandatory expenses during the study abroad period include accommodation fees, medical insurance and student health service center health care fees.


“Our school’s accommodation fee for one month is US$1300, plus medical insurance and school health costs of more than US$3500 a year. These two expenditures cost more than US$4 for two years. If you add tuition, the two years of studying abroad are the most expensive. The basic expenditure is 10 U.S. dollars, which does not include other expenditures such as meals and social interaction," Zhong Qi introduced.


Zhong Qi believes that families who can afford their children to study in the United States start with middle class. "Although it feels a little worthless, compared to the juniors who just enrolled last year, I am lucky, because they started teaching online after only one semester of class, but the tuition fees have to be paid," said Zhong Qi.


Zhong Qi, who is looking for a new job in New York again, deeply realizes that the status of graduating from the Ivy League school is not an insurance key. In the current study abroad system, the dividends of the era brought by the gilding of the Ivy League school have gradually disappeared, and now he wants to stay in the United States more and more. The harder it is. "The dust of the times falls on an individual's head as a mountain," Zhong Qi said.


Thinking of Zhang Xi's experience, Zhong Qi sighed: "The room for fault tolerance of the international student group is getting smaller and smaller. If you walk on thin ice, you feel that you will be left behind if you take a wrong step."


In June, Zhong Qi moved to a rental house in Chinatown and rented a house with his friends. The monthly rent was more than US$6. Unlike previously focusing only on job opportunities in Silicon Valley, Zhong Qi has now started to browse domestic recruitment websites, looking for opportunities from major domestic Internet companies.


(At the request of the interviewee, Lin Yi, Zhong Qi, and Zhang Xi in the article are pseudonyms)