More than 55,000 students and exchange visitors have or will board planes to study in the United States this year
The United States mission in India has approved more student visas in 2021 so far than ever before, said the country’s embassy in a statement on Monday. This comes despite the many challenges that people are facing in travelling abroad.
As per the US embassy, more than 55,000 students and exchange visitors have or will board planes to study in the United States this year. “More students are being approved every day,” it said.
“The US Mission looks forward to another great student season as it facilitates study for spring semester students over the coming few months,” the embassy added.
Speaking about the process to facilitate the students’ journey, ambassador Atul Keshap said that the Covid-19 pandemic posed several logistical challenges for the team.
“Studying in the United States is a unique and often life-changing experience for Indian students, granting fresh, global perspectives and frequently leading to invaluable career opportunities,” he said.
“Indian students also enrich US society, achieve high levels of academic success, and deepen the bonds of friendship between our countries,” added Keshap.
The embassy further said that while they typically begin interviewing fall semester students for a given year in May, the second wave of Covid-19 forced the mission to delay the commencement
“In July, as soon as conditions allowed for the resumption of visa services without endangering applicants’ health and safety, consular teams worked not only to match, but surpass, their pre-Covid workload,” it said.
The statement by the US embassy in India comes amid reports of students in several other countries struggling to get their visas although the classes have begun.
Kofi Owusu occasionally waits outside the US embassy in Accra to ask fellow students what they have done to secure a timely visa appointment, reported news agency Reuters.
Classes for his master’s program at Villanova University in Pennsylvania are scheduled to start Monday, but his in-person interview appointment for a first-time US student visa is still nine months away. It’s the second time the political science student from Ghana won’t make it to the United States in time for school.
“I think they should just open up the system,” said Owusu, adding “they are operating on a rather limited schedule so I think they can broaden it and give students a priority.”
Visa processing is delayed as US embassies and consulates operate at reduced capacity around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving some students abroad unable to make it for the start of the academic year.
New international student enrollment in the United States dropped 43% in fall 2020 from the year prior, months after Covid sent the world into lockdown. The number of new students who actually made it onto campus in person declined by 72%, according to an enrollment survey by the Institute of International Education (IIE).