Indians are receiving almost twice as many US student visas as Chinese this year

China remains the top global source of international students in America, but Indians have obtained nearly twice as many student visas as Chinese in the first seven months of this year, an analysis of nonimmigrant visas issued shows by the US State Department. in July

The Indian Express examined monthly visa reports (available on the official website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs) and found that 77,799 Indian students held F-1 visas between January and July, compared to 46,145 Chinese students. Most US student visas, in a calendar year, are usually issued in May, June and July.

The F-1 category is a nonimmigrant visa for those who wish to study at a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution in the US. The M-1 is another student visa category intended for foreign nationals who wish to study at professional institutions or other recognized non-academic institutions, other than language training programs, in the US. For this analysis, The Indian Express considered only F-1 data, as visas issued in this range account for more than 90% of US student visa issuances each year.

Although the absolute number of Chinese students heading to America for higher education has been declining since the pandemic, China still accounts for the largest share of international students currently studying in the US. Indian students rank second and South Korean students rank third.

In 2021, 99,431 Chinese students received F-1 visas compared to 87,258 Indians and 16,865 South Koreans. In 2020, 21,908 Indian students received F-1 visas compared to 4,853 Chinese students. US embassy officials had last year described trends in the 2020 data set as a “Covid affect”. At the time, the blockades had hampered international travel while China had imposed severe movement restrictions on its citizens.

International students make a significant contribution to the US economy, as most pay much higher tuition rates than US citizens. In 2019, before the pandemic hit, international students contributed $44 billion to the US economy. Of this, approximately $16 billion came from Chinese students and nearly $8 billion from Indian students.

To return overall international student attendance to pre-pandemic levels, the US government this year took several steps to simplify the student visa application process, including opening thousands of slots for appointments and the expansion of interview waiver options. Under the new visa guidelines, students who have previously held a US visa can apply through the mail service to avoid an in-person interview.

In response to The Indian Express’ email seeking comment on the current year’s F-1 visa trend, US Embassy New Delhi spokesperson Chris Elms wrote: “We have nothing further beyond travel.state.gov data.”

Another country that attracts many foreign students, the United Kingdom, has also seen a sharp rise in Indians getting student visas compared to their Chinese counterparts. The latest UK immigration statistics released this week showed that in the period from July 2021 to June 2022, the country issued 4,86,868 sponsored study visas. Indian nationals accounted for 1,17,965 of them, up 89% from the previous year. Chinese nationals, meanwhile, received 1,15,056 study visas.

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Compared to 2019, the increase in the number of study visas granted to Indians amounts to 215 percent, while those granted to Chinese students have decreased by 4 percent. The report did not analyze the reasons for the rise and fall in the proportion of Indian and Chinese nationals in this category. A spokesman for the British High Commission said: “We would not like to speculate on the reasons.”

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