GEORGE TOWN: The depreciation of the ringgit is an acceptable reason for international students in the United States to apply for permission to work outside the campus.
And it seems that some Malaysian students are taking this route to earn some pocket money.
A father, who wanted to be known only as Ragu, said his son studying at a US university now works part-time at a petrol station for his daily expenses.
International students studying in the United States may apply to the country’s Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to work outside the campus on grounds of “severe economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances”.
According to the USCIS website, “substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate” are acceptable grounds for hardship.
Students can then work up to 20 hours a week while their campus is in session and full-time during semester breaks.
“I still pay his tuition fees, and I must admit that with the depreciating ringgit, things can get pretty hard but luckily, this is my son’s final year,” said the 59-year-old businessman yesterday.
Ragu hopes his son will graduate with flying colours and learn much from his struggles as a student.
As for his other son, Ragu plans to send him to study abroad in a less costly location, such as Singapore.
Meanwhile, the daughter of Siti Rogayah Musa, 55, is fortunate to have found a part-time job at the campus mini mart.
Her daughter is studying chemical engineering at the University of Texas in Austin.
USCIS does not require international students there to seek approval to take on-campus jobs, and merely stipulates that the job opportunities of international students on the campus do not take jobs away from US residents.
“Although my daughter has a scholarship, it only covers her tuition and hostel fees, so she has to work for her own expenses,” Siti Rogayah said.
She said her daughter has trimmed down on unnecessary expenditures like entertainment.
“She works at the campus mini mart and earns about US$200 (RM924) per week,” she said.
“During semester breaks, she stays with her aunt and helps babysit their kids.”
Her daughter cooks her own meals now to reduce living expenses further.
Every month, Siti Rogayah and her husband send RM1,000 to their daughter.
The primary school teacher hopes the ringgit will not slip further as it will erode their financial support.
The current value of the ringgit – RM4.62 against the US dollar yesterday – has also affected outbound tourism.
Tour agent Shahrizal Bakar claimed that the outbound tourism business had dropped tremendously.
“Even our tours to Thailand have decreased by about 50%,” he said, adding that he now promotes domestic destinations to negate the loss of outbound tours.