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28% drop in US student visas to Indians in 2017

The total number of F-1 student visas issued by the US fell by 17% from 417,728 in 2016 to 393,573. Indians accounted for the largest drop— from 65,257 in 2016 to 47,302.

world Updated: Mar 12, 2018 23:57 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
F-1 student visas,Indian students,state department
Representative photo of an Indian student in the US.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There was a massive decline of 28% in the number of student visas issued by the United States to Indian students in 2017, according to new state department data.

The total number of F-1 student visas issued by the US fell by 17% from 417,728 in 2016 to 393,573. Indians accounted for the largest drop— from 65,257 in 2016 to 47,302 in 2017. The number of Chinese students fell by 24%, which was because of a 2014 visa policy change specific to the country. Without China, the overall number fell by 13%.

China and India are the top two countries of origin for foreign students, followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the new state department data on Monday, attributed the overall fall to stricter admissibility rules mandated by the Trump administration, which required consular officials to ensure students planned to return to their home countries after finishing their studies.

The WSJ report said the changes were reflected in the Foreign Affairs Manual, which is an official guide for consular officials. A state department spokeswoman told the Journal that the guidelines were changed as part of a review of the rules mandated by an executive order signed by Trump in 2017.

“The president’s mandate requires us to rigorously enforce all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission,” the spokesperson said.

A response from the state department to a request from Hindustan Times was awaited.

Earlier reports and surveys of US universities had noted a significant drop in admission applications. However, it could not be confirmed whether the number of visas issued could have declined because of fewer applications.

“Nearly 40% of US colleges are seeing declines in applications from international students, and international student recruitment professionals report ‘a great deal of concern’ from students and their families about visas and perceptions of a less welcoming climate in the US,” the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers had said, announcing preliminary findings of a survey of 250 colleges at the end of the application period for enrolment in 2017.

The decline in the number of foreign students had started before Trump took office — it came down from 644,233 in 2015 to 471,728 in 2016. The trend has been ascribed to high tuition costs and the state of the job market in the US.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 23:43 IST