HomeCampusDreams of students from India to study in U.S. frustrated

Dreams of students from India to study in U.S. frustrated

The American Council on Education wrote an open letter expressing alarm at the long delays in approving visas for international students, especially from India.

The letter stated that interviews for applicants have been scheduled up to 200 days out, forcing many to miss the start of the fall term.

The ACE cited a 35% increase in applicants from India in 2022 – 2023 and expects that increase to continue.

“Overall, students from India that year made up over a quarter of international students in this country,” wrote the Council in a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “This year, we expect to see that growth continue, and we are asking the State Department to ensure this surge of applications does not cause a delay in students receiving a student visa to study in the United States for the 2024-2025 academic year.”

PRI reported that the US Embassy in New Delhi processed more than 1 million non-immigrant visas in 2023.

Ankush Pal, a sociology student from New Delhi, had been invited to give a talk at a conference in Southern Illinois University. However, the earliest interview he could get for a visa would be 10 months after the conference.

“As an undergraduate student, it’s a big deal,” Pal said to PRI. “It’s close to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to even be invited.”

That once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had been dashed by the long delays.

According to Inside Higher Ed, many campuses have come to rely on the tuition money from these international students and the delays could jeopardize not only those funds, but the survival of some campuses as well.

The letter to Blinken is co-signed by nearly two dozen higher education associations.

Applicant Bikash Bhattacharya told PRI he is in danger of losing his acceptance into a PhD program.

Even applying for an interview can be time consuming as the web-based appointment system can be cumbersome to even successfully log in.

“Maybe 6 to 7 times daily at different points of time. Sometimes it’s at midnight, sometimes it’s early in the morning,” Bhattacharya said.

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