Following a sharp drop in international student admissions in 2020, the number of student visas approved to international students in the United States has recovered to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
As per data from the US State Department, American consulates approved nearly 117,000 F-1 student visas in May and June this year, accounting for nearly 90% of the total in 2019. In May and June, a great chunk of international students, who make up a significant part of the US various academic institutes cluster, were granted F-1 student visas, a slight increase from the previous year. The number of international students on F-1 and M-1 visas in the United States tumbled by 20% to 1.25 million last year, whereas the number of new students slipped by 72%. Due to various coronavirus prohibitions, along with the suspension of in-person lessons, several students chose to take classes digitally, while others postponed their education in the United States. The concern of visas for Chinese students has become a source of debate in China’s already strained relations with the United States.
According to China Daily, a state news outlet, about 500 Chinese postgraduates with offers to study STEM subjects were rejected student visas this year. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized the visa denials and urged President Biden to lift the Trump administration’s constraints on researchers and scholars. Around 400,000 Chinese students studying in the United States were stranded last year due to campus shutdowns, including 26,000 in primary and secondary schools. When almost all flights into and out of the country were forced to cancel, many people scrambled to find a way home.
The Delta variant’s impact on international student enrolment is still unknown. Visa approval data for July, one of the bustling months leading up to the fall semester, is yet to be released.