International Student Numbers Declining Due to Visa Problems

This is Stephanie of IMS.

In the past three years, the Trump administration has introduced increasing amounts of obstacles to the legal immigration process, and international students are facing the consequences. Despite steady growth of international student enrollment at universities across the U.S., those numbers have sharply declined in recent years, as reported by university representatives. According to a survey by the Institute of International Education, enrollment of international students fell by 3% in 2017 compared to the 2015-2016 school year. The most recent data from 2017-2018 shows the numbers falling again by 7%.

University presidents have expressed concern that the Trump administration’s policies are driving international students away from studying in the United States. 83% of higher education institutions surveyed in the above-mentioned survey cited delay or denial of student visas as a factor contributing to the decline.

International students are experiencing longer visa processing times, more requests for extra documentation, and a few have even been turned away at the border due to the social media content of their friends. A recent example is a 17-year-old Palestinian national who was expecting to go to Harvard. After being questioned by CBP officers for his religious practices and intent in entering the country, the officers searched his computer and phone; ultimately, they cancelled his visa and deported him after finding social media posts his friends had made which were critical of the U.S. A petition calling for a reversal of this decision earned more than 7,000 signatures, and he was finally let back into the country and allowed to attend his first day of classes.

While this situation is extreme and still rare, it’s a brief glance into the headaches both students and universities are facing when it comes to studying in the U.S.

Colleges Face Growing International Student-Visa Issues (The Atlantic)