The news comes after stakeholders in the world’s most popular study destination met with government officials after releasing research that indicated that an estimated 92,051 “potentially qualified” African students were denied US visas between 2018-2022.
Meeting with Julie Stufft, deputy assistant secretary of State for Visa Services, the Presidents’ Alliance and Shorelight – who compiled the research – briefed the officials on “inconsistencies with visa issuance” in the Global South, especially in Africa.
NAFSA’s senior director for public policy and legislative strategy Rachel Banks and CEO Fanta Aw also joined.
Just last week, The PIE reported that US student visa approvals are expected to hit a post-pandemic high in 2023. Of the 393,000+ F-1 visas issued this year to the beginning of August, 7% are for African applicants.
The state department confirmed that student visa issuance across Africa so far this fiscal year is up 90% on the same time period in pre-pandemic 2019.
It also said that in FY 2022, the department issued the most student visas in a year since FY 2016.
Last year, the US issued over 30,000 student visas to applicants from African countries, which it also said was more than in any of the previous six years.
US embassies and consulates in Nigeria and Ghana issued more student visas last year than in any year in the past two decades, the state department said.
Similarly, the US embassy and consulates in India broke the all-time record for most student and exchange visitor visas issued in a year, issuing more than 125,000 visas, officials claimed.
Earlier this year, secretary of state Antony Blinken noted that the US has taken steps to “streamline our visa process and make it easier for students to apply” after applications to study in the US increased following the pandemic.
International student mobility is “central to diplomacy, innovation, economic prosperity and national security”, the department says, and it is “committed to international students and continuously improving student visa processing”.
Government officers highlight that the US has improved administration processing, including extending the window to apply for visas to 365 days earlier this year.
During the meeting, the Bureau of Consular Affairs also reiterated that applicants should have the same opportunities to secure student visa regardless of where they are in the world.
The Presidents’ Alliance added that it is continuing to encourage member to raise issues and concerns related to visa processing to address inconsistencies. Additionally, it has requested the state department for a specific meeting to discuss international mobility for students from Africa.
Jill Welch of the Presidents’ Alliance recently wrote in The PIE News that if the US doesn’t address “missed opportunities” for young Africans – which are expected to constitute close to half of the world’s youth population by 2030 – the US “will fall further behind our competitor countries in recruiting this talent from Africa”.
- NAFSA is currently encouraging international educators to report specific visa denials/refusals by completing a survey to help inform its ongoing outreach to state department on this topic.