Student Visa Denials at Record High in US

United States North America Higher Education News Statistics International Studies by Erudera News Mar 21, 2024

US visa

The United States rejected a record number of student visas in 2023, surpassing the previous denial rate of 2022, newly released data shows.

According to statistics published by the Cato Institute, the US Department of State rejected 36 percent of student visa applications in 2023. In other words, a record number of 253,355 international students had their visas to the US denied,

“Student visas usually had a similar rejection rate to other nonimmigrant visa applicants. But from 2021 and 2023, student visas were denied at nearly twice the rate of all other applicants. The student visa denial rate increased from a low of 15 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2023,” the report by Cato Institute points out.

US Student Visa Denial Rates Over the Years_ 2015-2023

Last year, more visas were rejected than were issued in 2002 and 2005.

The table below shows the number of student visas that were denied and approved between 2015 and 2023.

Year Approved Denied
2015 644,233 141,833
2016 471,728 182,165
2017 393,573 146,301
2018 362,929 127,337
2019 364,204 123,871
2020 111.387 50,490
2021 357,839 88,583
2022 411,131 220,676
2023 445,418 253,355

A fluctuation of Chinese students in the US has been observed over the years. In 2023, a total of 86,080 students from China had their visas approved. This figure improved from the previous year (2022) when only 61,894 student visas were issued to Chinese students.

Before 2022, the trend in student visas issued to Chinese students was as follows:

  • 90,310 visas issued in 2021
  • 14,436 visas issued in 2020
  • 105,775 visas issued in 2019
  • 98,904 visas issued in 2018
  • 112,817 visas issued in 2017
  • 148,016 visas issued in 2016
  • 274,460 visas issued in 2015
  • 244,927 visas issued in 2014
  • 217,593 visas issued in 2013
  • 189,402 visas issued in 2012

On the other hand, India has witnessed significant growth overall while continuing to be the leading market for Asia, too, with 130,839 visas issued in 2023. That is a 13 percent increase from 115,115 in FY 2022, a record high for India.

“After major delays during the pandemic, Indian consulates issued an unprecedented 130,839 student visas, by far the highest total for India ever,” Cato’s report explains.

However, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian students were more likely to have their visas refused than Chinese students. In 2018, 35 percent of Indian student visa applications were denied, compared to 14 percent among Chinese during the same period.

In 2022, the State Department denied 35 percent of student visa applications, increasing from 15 percent in 2014.

According to the Open Doors 2023 Report released on November 13, 2023, by the US State Department and IIE, the US became home to 1,057,188 international students in the 2022/23 academic year. China and India remain the largest contributors, with students from these countries accounting for 52 percent of the student population.

More from Erudera News:

>> California Attracts More International Students Than Any Other US State, Especially Chinese

>> India Surpasses China With Most Active Student-Visa Holders in US, More Indians Also in Australia & UK

>> US Universities Want More Students from India, But China Remains a Key Focus

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