Vice-Consul for the United States Consulate General in Chennai Aaron Benesh has said that the U.S. “has no plans to restrict Indian student visas in any way in the future.”

Speaking to The Hindu after his speech at the annual American Education Expo in Chennai on Thursday, Mr. Benesh refused to make any explicit comparisons between the U.K. and U.S. visa application systems. However, asked whether the U.S. might be currently more open than the U.K. to granting student visas, he replied: “It would appear that way.”

The U.K. Border Agency recently imposed a one-month ban (due to end on March 1) on student visas for North India after applications increased ten-fold in a single month.

In addition, it has now toughened criteria for those wishing to come and study in the U.K. from foreign countries. Applicants will now be required to have a better understanding of English language, and will be limited to 10 hours of paid employment a week during term time (down from 20 hours).

An increasing number of Indian students have opted to continue their studies in the U.S. in recent years, with the current figure estimated to be over 1,00,000. Twelve American universities sent over representatives for this year's Chennai education fair in a bid to attract the brightest Indian students to come to the U.S. This year there will also be twice the number of scholarships available to U.S. universities, owing to the Indian government's 2008 agreement to become an equal funding partner of the Fulbright scholarship program.

Student Muhammed Ayub remains undeterred by the prospect of vicious competition for scholarships or the high price of studying in the U.S. Given the superior facilities and reputation of U.S. universities, it was a “worthwhile investment,” he said.