The Times of India


Indian teachers get the US visa power 



Times of India : After Indian techies, it may be the turn of Indian teachers to head for the US in droves.

Scores of teachers have already arrived in the US since the process began quietly last year. It looks like thousands, perhaps tens of thousands more may be coming in given the acute shortage of good instructors, according to Michael Vanjani, founder of the New York-based recruitment firm, Teachers Placement Group.

Several surveys show the US would need more than a million teachers over the next decade. In Maryland alone, nearly half of the 60,000 teachers are due for retirement over the next two years and the local system is simply not throwing up enough replacements.

At least eight school county board across America have contracted teachers from India over the past year after desperate local governments began reaching out to fill vacancies. Since there is already a teacher shortage in other Anglophone countries like Britain and Australia, the US recruiters began looking at India.

Jemima Terikonda had been teaching for 13 years at the Canadian Baptist Missionary School in Visakhapatnam when she saw an advertisement in the local newspaper seeking in structures for American schools. Although skeptical, she says she applied and found herself rushed through several sets of interviews, including a video-conference with the Cecil County School Board in Maryland, before landing the $36,000-a-year job.

" I had thought it was one of those gulf jobs. instead, i found myself on a plane to America in January last year, "the 38-year-old vizag school teacher , who had never been abroad, giggled in an interview.

Although terikonda (as she is addressed in school) was told she had to pass a praxis and other qualifying exams before she got license to teach, the maryland state education board evaluated her masters degree in maths and certified that she could teach the subject with her degree.

Typically, American school teachers are paid modest salaries- $36000-45,000 a year. the Indian instructors come in at the low end of the range. there is also the small matter of paying the headhunters. terikonda coughed up Rs 2.5 lakh (about $5,500 or nearly two months salary).

for the first wave of Indian school in instructors, teaching in America (as compared to be job in India) is a different ballgame altogether. the biggest difference, they say, is student in India are more disciplined respect the teachers a lot more.

Right now the teachers are coming to be US on a J-1 exchange visa, but Vanjani says he trying to change this into an H1-B visa, given the downturn in the tech sector. most teachers are coming on three-year contracts and a J-1 visa is being given for less than a year and has to be reseed each year. an H1-B visa would be valid for the years.