Social Consciousness

Looking Back To Immigration History of Our Country:

Nepalese seem to have begun migrating to the United States from early 20th century. The first Nepalese to enter the United States were classified as “other Asian.” Immigration records show that between 1881 and 1890 1,910 “other Asians” were admitted to the United States. However, Nepal did not open its borders until 1950, and most Nepalese who left the country during that time primarily went to India to study. The first time that the Nepalese were classified as a separate group occurred in 1974, when 56 Nepalese had immigrated to the United States. The number of immigrants from Nepal remained below 100 per year through 1996.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there were 2,616 Americans with Nepalese ancestry. Fewer than 100 Nepalese immigrants become U.S. citizens each year, but the number of Nepalese who become legal residents has grown steadily from 78 in 1987 to 431 in 1996. The Nepalese community experienced a significant growth in population during the 2000s. The poor political and economic conditions caused by the Nepalese Civil War markedly increased emigration from Nepal. Significant communities of Nepalese Americans exist in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Portland, Gainesville, and St. Paul. Sizable numbers also live in various cities of California.

Bhutanese Nepali

Since 1990 ethnic Nepalese more than 105,000 in numbers, who were forced out of their country, the Bhutanese refugees temporarily settled in refugee camps in eastern part of Nepal? After the 15 years of exile they are now being resettled in US, Europe and Australia’s. By the end of resettlement program it is estimated that around 50,000 of Bhutanese will be in U.S.

In 1998, 226 Nepalese were winners of the DV- diversity lottery which is conducted under the terms of Section 203© of the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to person from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

Well, we now know the numbers but why did the first Nepalese immigrants come to the US? The question almost answers itself; for education and employment opportunities. According to the 1984 US Census, of the 75 Nepalese immigrants admitted to the US, 42 had no occupation and 33 had professional specialties. Those who were fortunate and wealthy enough were able to go the US for proper schooling. After the schooling, many of those students were able to apply for work permits thus, being allowed to eventually become US citizens. It should also be noted that though Nepal was still 90% agricultural, a significant number of college educated living in the Kathmandu valley in the 1980s, created new employment opportunities for foreign donors in need of Nepalese consultants.

Let’s have a closer look at the number of visa issued from the US Embassy in Nepal from the year 1992.

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Considering the Bhutanese Refugees to be a part of our equations, then by Nov. 2010, UNHCR reported, 34,129 Bhutanese refugees of Nepal origin were resettled in US. So with this number, the tally of Nepalese in United States reaches to 174,365 plus 2616 according to the 1990 U.S. Census makes it 176391.

Incredibly, we have about 200 thousand Nepalese living in United States yet the acculturation process for a Nepalese immigrant into the US can best be described as difficult as featured in the 1999 documentary film, Ista-Mitra, by Hari Siwakoti. He describes being a Nepalese immigrant in the US as a difficult process. The film documents Siwakoti’s life from his arrival in America through his acculturation process. “The Nepali culture helps each other, “he said, “This is a different culture, a different life.”

But no matter what, the strong Nepalese culture has ensured that many second-generation Nepalese Americans continue in their family’s religious heritage. We, second generation Nepalese Americans, should embrace and interpret American life through the ways of our family’s beliefs and traditions. It will never matter where we will live, our heart will always belong to Nepal.


Studying in the USA – Perception vs. Reality

In a recent Article by Pradeep Khanal, General Secretary of CAN-USA, the number of Nepali students stands at around 12000 in 2008/09 which is an increase of almost 30 percent over the 2007/08 academic year. Since such an unprecedented number of Nepali students are heading to the US for higher education, it is very essential to understand the proper application procedures and what lies ahead of them given US visa is granted. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered before applying to the colleges and for what may come thereafter. Stepping on to the US alone doesn’t mean anything if the student cannot get quality education and a respected college degree. There have been a lot of Nepali students who never graduate and ultimately lose legal immigration status. This article is an attempt to discuss some of the issues Nepali students and parents might have regarding education and expectations in the USA.


Undergraduate Level Education

It is not an unknown fact that education in the US is extremely expensive. Students in Nepal usually believe that securing US visa is the ultimate goal. Most of them don’t seem to care much about what happens thereafter. If the student is financially capable, it is a lot easier to graduate on time, otherwise stay in the US can get very challenging and education never ending.

Unfortunately, most of the Nepali undergraduate students in the US pay full international tuition fees putting a lot of financial and mental stress on them. To be able to do so, they are forced to work a lot of lower paid hours apart from attending the university full time. Very few fortunate students land relatively easier and legal on-campus jobs (working in the libraries, computer labs, cafeterias etc) while most of the students work illegally off-campus in convenient stores and gas stations. With the strict US law restricting international students to work off-campus, engagement in such illegal off-campus works makes them vulnerable to deportation to Nepal and/or future immigration status complications. Even after working a lot, students are still short of paying off the tuition and managing their personal expenses. Consequently, the students start using credit cards and before they realize they get immersed into lots of debt. Making it worse, there is usually presumed pressure among some students to take care of financial issues back home in Nepal. All these put an incredible hardship on the students in addition to the stress stemming from the regular homework, projects, exams etc.


Graduate Level Education

While the undergraduate education is primarily based on courses and curriculum, the graduate education in the US is based on academic research and projects. The industries and even the US government provide funding for varying and relevant projects in most of the research universities. These research projects are carried out by the university professors with the help from the graduate students comprising of both Masters and PhD candidates. These research projects usually pay for the tuition and living expenses of the graduate students. Moreover, graduate students are also paid for teaching undergraduate level classes and running academic labs. However, admission into such funded graduate level programs is more competitive and hence warrants more credentials from the applicants.


Perception and Reality

It’s very common for those who make it to the US to have immediate financial expectation from themselves and the family. However, it should not be forgotten that university fees and living expenses in the US are enormous. In order to alleviate the financial challenge while attending the university, the students should focus more on securing academic/need-based scholarships and on-campus jobs. Both the students and the parents should realize that it is more important to get timely degree than to work and earn money right away.





  • Every year 11000 Nepalese students come to the US for higher studies.
  • With the hope and ambitions
  • But reality is different
  • Several transfer to community college
  • Some succeed
  • Some don’t
  • Some left college
  • Some seeks for alternatives
  • Everyone hides their grief
  • Some cannot afford Consulting Company Training and Placement Fees
  • Some Cannot afford VISA sponsorship
  • Some struggle to get to Permanent Resident Status
  • No matter what, Struggle continues!


This is the story of most of our Nepalese students and Professionals in the USA.