USA: International student visas issued rebound to pre-pandemic record

The demand for US education remains unassailable around the world and is expected to keep rising, as  the end of the pandemic is in sight. In its annual report on Nonimigrant Visa Issuances by Visa Class and Nationality, the US Department of State revealed overwhelmingly positive student visa data, demonstrating soaring visa issued numbers supported by record-high approval rates. 

The report showed that almost 358,000 international student visas were issued in the 2021 fiscal year (October 2020 to September 2021), nearly tying with the pre-pandemic numbers from the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. 

This is a huge comeback for US international education, given the drop in FY2020 caused by the COVID-19 situation, where visas issued totalled only 111,387. 

Notably, there was also a significant rise in visa approval rates in FY2021, which greatly contributed to the surge of visas issued. Hitting a nine-year high, the student visa approval rate reached 80.2% after falling below 70% in the previous year. 

South Asian Markets: Key Drivers of International Student Visa Growth 

South Asian countries largely drove the boost in visa issuance numbers. The top four countries with the greatest increase in US student visas issued from FY2019 to FY2021 are all from South Asia: Bangladesh (+116.8%), Nepal (+93.3%), Pakistan (85.4%), and India (84.0%). 

Among these four South Asian countries, India had the most visas issued, totalling over 80,000, only falling behind China by around 10,000. India’s rapid growth in the market means that it is well-positioned to surpass China as the US’ top source country for international students.  

What does this mean for recruitment agents? 

The recently released report means one thing for recruitment agents: it’s excellent news. But to break it down further, here’s why the new data offer a myriad of opportunities that you should make the most of, as early as now: 

  • An increase in visas issued demonstrates a boost in student interest in studying in the US. 

After over a year of closed borders, strict outdoor guidelines and online-only classes, students are raring to re-experience face-to-face classes, and more than that, to travel abroad to pursue their degrees. So, if you had trouble finding students to recruit in the past fiscal year, you can ease your worries this year: countless students are wanting to study in the US from all around the world, especially with the end of the pandemic in sight. 

The surge in visas issued shows not only a positive outcome for this fiscal year but also the potential to keep rising in the next few years. And with the Department of State’s annual report made public, more students will realise that now is a time to start applying to US institutions. 

That means you should be recruiting them now, too. 

  • Higher approval rates reflect government efforts. 

The substantial increase in F-1 student visa approval rates – a 10% recovery from the previous year and the best-recorded rate in nine years – shows that the US government is dedicated to prioritising international education to maintain the US’ place as one of the top study destinations in the world. 

With the government now ready to offer much of its support to international students, it is ideal for bringing in more students to US campuses. as soon as possible. You can also offer your students greater reassurance that their visas will be approved if they decide to apply to US schools. 

  • Data reveal massive opportunities in India. 

International student visas issued in the past three fiscal years increased drastically in India. To put this into better perspective, visas issued in India in FY2019, FY2020 and FY2021 were recorded to be 43,714, 15,323 and 80,451, respectively. 

Comparatively, visas issued in China in the same fiscal years totalled 105,775, 14,436 and 90,310, respectively. Note that China has been the US’ top source of international students for 12 consecutive years, so India catching up on the charts is a shift to look out for. 

This upward trend for India (and its rivalling numbers against China) means that there are plenty of recruitment opportunities in India, along with other South Asian countries, that agents like you should be tapping into. There is a possibility that the number of international students from India will surpass that of China in the coming years, so it will be wise to focus your recruitment efforts on this market. 

Study at GSP’s partner institutions  

Our partners welcome students from all walks of life, and offer exceptional quality education that will help your students in building successful careers. 

Here are some fast facts about some of our US partner institutions: 

1. Golden Gate University (San Francisco, California) 

  • #1 University in the US for Adult Learners for 4 consecutive years (Washington Monthly) 
  • US News: #147 Best Grad Schools 2023 (US) (Law) 
  • 17% of the student population are international students representing 48+ different countries 
  • Scholarships up to $15,000 are available to international students 
  • $92K is the average post-graduation salary for GGU students 

2. Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, Texas) 

  • #73 in Regional Universities West (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #73 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News Best Colleges 2023) 
  • #38 in Top Public Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • the only university in Texas to become a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) 
  • Offers on-campus living for students 

3. Trine University (Angola, Indiana) 

  • #18 in Regional Colleges Midwest (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #16 in Best Value Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #20 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • 99.3% of the Class of 2021 was employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation 
  • 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio 
  • $35,809 given on average to students, with 98 percent receiving financial aid 
  • Spent $176 million since 2000 to provide students with state-of-the-art academic, athletic and residential facilities 

4. SUNY Polytechnic Institute (Utica/Albany, New York) 

  • #9 in Regional Universities North (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #3 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #32 in Best Value Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #2 in Top Public Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • 13:1 student to faculty ratio (18 average class size) 

5. Troy University (Troy, Alabama) 

  • #88 Best Online MBA Programs in 2022 (Fortune 2022) 
  • #6 Best Affordable Master’s in International Business Degree Programs (Master’s Programs Guide, 2022) 
  • # 21 Top BS Psychology degree (US News, 2022) 
  • #16 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice for Veterans (US News, 2022) 
  • #21 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #44 in Regional Universities South (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • Troy has one of the best museums in Alabama, where  Rosa Parks Museum ranks #6 (Stacker 2022) 

6. St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Minnesota) 

  • #22 in Top Public Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #69 in Best Value Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #38 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #82 in Regional Universities Midwest (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • A member of many academic and professional associations, including American Association of State Colleges and Universities; American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; and Council of Graduate Schools in the United States 

7. Sacramento State (Sacramento, California) 

  • #38 in Regional Universities West (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #5 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #35 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • Sacramento State is the fourth most diverse university in the western United States. 
  • features the second-largest veterans program in the California State University system, with more than 1,200 veterans and their dependents 
  • The College of Business Administration has been AACSB-accredited since 1963, one of just 5 percent of the world’s 13,000 higher education institutions to have earned this designation 

8. Concordia St. Paul University (Saint Paul, Minnesota) 

  • #54 in Best Value Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #66 in Regional Universities Midwest (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #43 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • Most affordable Private University in the Twin Cities 
  • Second Largest Private University in Minnesota  
  • Average gifts & loans of $21,451 per student 

9. California State University Monterey Bay (Monterey County, California) 

  • #22 in Regional Universities West (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #4 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • Nationally recognised Service Learning Program 
  • 27:1 student-to-faculty ratio 
  • 80+ student clubs and organisations 

10. Portland State University (Portland, Oregon) 

  • #41 in Most Innovative Schools (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #8 in Service Learning (US News Best Colleges, 2023) 
  • #13 Best College Locations in America (Niche 2023) 
  • The median starting salary of alumni is $49,300 (higher than the average annual pay $42,955) 
  • 65% of students receive financial aid 
  • Offers over 200 programs 

With all these positive trends for US international education, now is clearly the best time to focus your efforts on recruiting students into our US partner institutions. 

To learn more about recruitment in the US, talk to our experts today. 

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