Classes start, but international students do not get a US visa


Kofi Owusu’s classes at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pa., Are set to begin on Monday. But her in-person meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana, for a student visa is still nine months away.

This is the second time Owusu will not make it to the United States in time for school.

“I think they should just open up the system,” Owusu said. He told Reuters, “They operate on a rather limited time so I think they can expand it and give students priority. “

A drop in international students

United States requires person in person maintenance for international students to obtain a visa. Educational support groups say students are struggling to secure an appointment as embassies operate with fewer workers during the health crisis.

This prevented some international students from traveling to the United States for the start of the school year. And educational groups are now asking the United States to drop face-to-face interviews or conduct them online.

FILE – In this file photo from June 7, 2019, a man walks past Hamerschlag Hall at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Colleges in the United States saw a drop in international student numbers in fall 2020 (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar, File)

A spokesperson for the US State Department said students should start the visa process early. He added that the department considers nominations for students first and expedites the process as needed.

Last year, the United States allowed embassy officials to drop face-to-face interviews required to help visa processing slowed by the pandemic. Students who renew their visa less than a year before completion are not required to meet in person until December 2021.

The Institute of International Education, or IIE, said a new international student registration in the United States fell 43% in fall 2020 compared to the previous year. The drop came after months of pandemic restrictions around the world. The organization, however, found that the actual number of new students who visited the United States in person fell by 72%.

IIE figures show that the United States has welcomed more than one million international students each year since the 2015-2016 school year.

The wait and the difficulty threaten both America’s position as a welcoming place for international students and the money they bring into the country. The amount is estimated at 40 billion dollars each year for universities and local communities.

Losing talents

NAFSA is a non-profit group of international educators. His research found that, even before COVID, the US visa process was one of the top three reasons for the drop in the number of international students between 2017-2019. The American social and political environment and competition from universities in other countries were the other two.

Ravi Shankar is the Director of the Office of International Services at the University of Rochester in New York. He named Canada, Britain and China as the main US competitors for international students. Shankar said: “We live in danger of losing Talent. “

Pictured University of Rochester.  The top three reasons for the decline in the number of international students between 2017 and 2019 in the United States are the social and political environment, difficulties in obtaining a student visa, and competition from universities in other countries.  (Official site)

Pictured University of Rochester. The top three reasons for the decline in the number of international students between 2017 and 2019 in the United States are the social and political environment, difficulties in obtaining a student visa, and competition from universities in other countries. (Official site)

Other western countries make it easier for international students to study there. Owusu said: “I went to school in UK.” He added: “I have not been through the stress to seek an interview.

Sarah Spreitzer is director of government relations at the American Council on Education. She said she thinks the US government is trying to be “a friendlier United States.”

This year, American universities received 13% more applications from international students than in the previous year. The numbers come from the common app that students use to apply to colleges each year.

Suwade Pe Than is a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. She considers herself lucky to have secured an appointment in June at the U.S. Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar.

She waited over three hours for her 10-minute meeting. Pe Than believes the meeting could have been done online rather than in person.

She said, “It’s just this interview that keeps everyone from going to the United States.”

I am Grégory Stachel.

Doyinsola Oladipo reported this story to Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in this story

rather adv. to a certain extent or to a certain extent

priority nm something that is more important than others and needs to be done or dealt with first

maintenance nm a meeting where people talk to each other to ask questions and get information

registration nm a person or group of people with a special ability to do something well

Talent nm a person or group of people with a special ability to do something well

stress nm a state of mental tension and worry caused by issues in your life or work

applyv. formally request something (such as a job, school admission, or loan) usually in writing


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