Higher ed groups urge government to ease student visa delays

July 10, 2024
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International student visas for residents of India and other South Asian countries looking to study in the U.S. have been subject to especially long processing delays this year, endangering international enrollments for the fall.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on behalf of a consortium of 20 higher ed organizations, American Council on Education president Ted Mitchell urged the government to address the delays for F-1 and J-1 visas. He wrote that some students are being offered interview appointment dates 100 to 200 days after they apply.

Those delays not only imperil students’ ability to secure papers before the start of the academic year in the fall; they also risk depriving colleges of international student tuition, which some enrollment-dependent institutions rely on for financial survival.

The delays are disproportionately affecting students from India, which has become the fastest-growing origin country for international students in the U.S. In 2022–23, international enrollment from India increased by 35 percent over 2021–22, making up more than 25 percent of all international students in the country.

“This year, we expect to see that growth continue, and we are asking the State Department to ensure this surge of applications does not cause a delay in students receiving a student visa,” Mitchell wrote. “We ask that the State Department and U.S. embassies take further action in India as well as in other countries that may see a surge of applicants to prioritize student visa processing during the summer months.”

But that surge comes with growing pains. India’s visa system is far more sluggish and susceptible to corruption than those in European countries or China, and the U.S. visa system is struggling to handle the large influx of work that brings. 



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