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US processes a million Indian visas in 2023

Indians now represent over 10% of all US visa applicants worldwide, including 20% of all student visa applicants. 
October 12 2023
3 Min Read

The US has processed over one million Indian visas in 2023 and has granted over 100,000 student visas. 

Indians now represent over 10% of all US visa applicants worldwide, including 20% of all student visa applicants. 

According to data released by the US State Department, the US has issued 102,655 F-1 visas to Indians up to August 2023. The majority of these (84,894) were granted in June, July and August in the run up to the new academic year. F-1 issuance peaked in June with 40,224 visas granted. 

Coming out of the pandemic, the US struggled to meet demand for its visa services due to staffing shortages and consulate closures. This led to serious backlogs and long wait times for applicants, which had a knock-on effect on universities recruiting international students. 

In India, where demand has soared in recent years, a black market for student visas emerged.

Over the past year, the US has introduced a range of measures to tackle the backlogs, including opening a new consulate in Hyderabad, employing more staff, extending interview waiver eligibility and introducing longer opening hours. 

Manisha Zaveri, joint managing director at Indian student recruitment agency Career Mosaic, said these initiatives have “contributed to a smoother and more efficient experience” for Indian students. 

Earlier this year, the US mission to India set itself a target of issuing 1 million visas to Indians in 2023 – a goal it has now surpassed.  

US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti personally handed over the millionth visa to an Indian woman at the end of September, who is planning to travel to the US to visit her son studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Speaking to local reporters, Garcetti said: “We changed our systems, worked harder, worked smarter and we hit 1 million visa applications now that we have processed this year.”

He added that wait times are two-thirds less than they were “at their worst”. The US embassy is processing almost 20% more applications than in pre-pandemic 2019.

“STEM education plays a pivotal role in drawing students to the US”

Zaveri said Indian students continue to be driven to the US by the “excellence” of the courses on offer, as well as the job opportunities after graduation. 

“Notably, STEM education plays a pivotal role in drawing students to the US, aligning with the ever-growing demand for skilled professionals in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and engineering, which continue to promise lucrative career opportunities,” she said. 

“The presence of financial aid and scholarships makes pursuing education in the US more affordable, further enhancing its appeal to Indian students. Moreover, the US job market provides promising career prospects with competitive salaries.”

In a statement, Garcetti pledged to continue the “record-setting volume” of visa work in the coming months to support the US-India relationship.

 “Our partnership with India is one of the United States’ most important bilateral relationships, and in fact one of the most important relationships in the world,” he said. 

President Joe Biden recently visited India as part of the G20 summit and met with prime minster Narendra Modi. They agreed to continue developing the Indian-US relationship and welcomed the launch of a joint institute to tackle global issues

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