Thursday, November 20, 2008

State Department shows increase in student visas approved in 2008

In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the U.S. Department of State issued a record high number (710,631) student and exchange visitor visas. This is a 9.1% increase from FY 2007; and over 26% more than FY 2001. The State Department issued almost 40% more student and exchange visitor visas to Chinese nationals than in FY 2007, which was itself 40% more than 2006.

I find it especially encouraging that there are major increases in the number of visas issued to visitors from the Middle East - 26.2% more in 2008 than in 2007. However, the big question is whether these students can stay in the US after they graduate, and use their education here. Unless Congress increases the H-1B quota, that seems unlikely.

The press release states that "The State Department, along with the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. government agencies, recognizes that one of the foundations of the U.S. academic and scientific communities is vibrant international participation. America’s outstanding academic and research institutions are as valuable to U.S. national security as protection of our borders."

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