In 2022, one out of every five U.S. student visas was for India: U.S. envoy

The U.S. Mission said it was on track to process over one million visa applications in 2023, and had processed over one-tenth of its worldwide visa volume since the beginning of the year

June 07, 2023 06:34 pm | Updated June 08, 2023 11:26 am IST - New Delhi

More Indians come to the United States as students than from any other country in the world, said U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti. File.

More Indians come to the United States as students than from any other country in the world, said U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti. File. | Photo Credit: Paul Noronha

Out of every five student visas that were issued by the United States in 2022, one was for an Indian student, Eric Garcetti, the U.S. Ambassador to India said on Wednesday at the seventh “annual student visa day” after almost 3,500 student visa applicants were interviewed.

Mr. Garcetti highlighted how the U.S. Mission was working to reduce the wait time on visa applications, and working on interviewing more applicants.

Also Read | A checklist to apply for a student visa in the U.S.

“Student exchange is at the heart of U.S.-India relations, with world class education in the U.S. and access to a global network of knowledge. We are all here today to encourage these opportunities for as many Indian students as possible,” Mr. Garcetti said.

This year, more than 2,00,000 Indian students are studying at various institutions in the U.S. They represent more than 20% of international students currently in the U.S.

“Last year, a record-breaking 1,25,000 students were issued visas. For one out of every five U.S. student visas issued, it was issued to an Indian student. In 2023, our plan is to interview more people and reduce the wait time,” he said.

According to data from the American Embassy, over 50% of Indian students studying in U.S. are enrolled in graduate programmes.

At the undergraduate level, the number of Indian students increased approximately 16% to over 27,500 in the 2021-22 academic year when compared with the 2020-21 academic year.

Almost 40% students are females and 60% students are males.

The U.S. Mission said it was on track to process over one million visa applications in 2023, and had processed over one-tenth of its worldwide visa volume since the beginning of the year.

Also Read | U.S. Consulate-Hyderabad launches ‘Visa Surge’ days to meet rising demand; more slots for students

On being asked how they were planning to cater to the visa rush, an official, requesting anonymity, said the number of staff working for the visa applications process had been increased, and an interview waiver programme was available for certain categories.

“We even launched ‘Super Saturdays’ — our staff work on Saturdays to process visa applications faster. Every category has a different waiting time and we are working to process them faster. Our intention is to reduce the wait time for tourist visa applicants requiring an interview,” the official said, adding that the in-person tourist visa appointment wait time was down by 60% since the beginning of 2023. The pre-pandemic wait time had been matched for over 20 visa categories.

“In the coming weeks, we will be releasing tens of thousands of student visa appointments for July and August,” Mr. Garcetti said.

In 2022, Indians were issued the highest numbers of ‘H’ and ‘L’ category employment visas (65%), and F1 student visas (17.5%) worldwide.

Clutching tightly on to her visa, Sakshi, 23, a resident of Nangloi in west Delhi, and the first student to have been issued a visa by Mr. Garcetti, said that she was the first person from her family to study in the U.S. Sakshi will be attending the University of Oklahoma for an M.S. in exercise physiology and kinesiology. Having completed her undergraduate degree in physiotherapy in Delhi, she realised her dream of studying in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, she told The Hindu. “For my course, I started researching and preparing in June 2022. I come from a small town in Maharashtra’s Sangli district. My family is proud of me,” she said.

“In the last four to five years, the trends have changed. Students now come in for Psychology, Economics, and Art and Design. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also seen public health has interested students. Some are interested in governance and policy,” Aastha Virk Singh, senior advisor with the United States-India Educational Foundation’s (USIEF) EducationUSA Center, told The Hindu.

She confirmed that the majority of Indian students opted for postgraduate programmes, but in the last five-six years, there had been a steady increase in the number of undergraduate students going to the U.S. “There’s an increase in both interest in, and applications for, undergraduate courses,” Ms. Singh said.

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