USA has always been one of the top destinations for study abroad aspirants across the globe. However, the COVID-19 pandemic along with the policies and regulations implemented by the Trump administration had negatively affected the country's reputation as a study destination among foreign students.
As per a report by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student Exchange Visitor Programme, the number of F-1 and M-1 visa holders in the US dipped to 1.25 million in the previous year, a fall of 18%.
Quoting the Wall Street Journal report, the Xinhua news agency highlighted that a 72% fall had been witnessed for the number of newly enrolled international students. Meanwhile, over a 90% decrease was witnessed in the number of F-1 student visa applications in August 2020.
The report revealed that the US consulates located across continents had halted all visa processing operations, which led to many students waiting to schedule their in-person interviews and be issued their student visas.
Further, the previous US administration’s decisions to restrict the movement of international students to the country added to the decline in overall visa applications. Additionally, many students who had hoped to travel to the US to pursue their higher education studies turned away due to the reasons stated.
Data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement also included students who were enrolled in classes from kindergarten to Class 12th, along with those pursuing higher education or vocational education in colleges and universities in the US. The decline in these numbers was witnessed in all degrees.
The report additionally revealed that hopes of seeing a better 2021 were also bleak as most consulates and embassies continue to remain closed or process visa in emergency situations. The State Department revealed that 43 out of the 233 consular posts were functioning at full capacity, as of 1st March 2021.