The State Department has revealed that the US Embassy and Consulates in India set an unprecedented record by granting over 140,000 student visas from October 2022 to September 2023.
Emphasizing the significant economic contribution of international students, estimated at up to $38 billion annually, the Department disclosed that a staggering 600,000 student visas were issued, marking the highest count since the fiscal year 2017.
During the primary student visa period of June-August 2023, consular officers in India issued 95,269 visas in the F, M, and J categories, showcasing an 18 percent surge compared to the same timeframe in 2022.
According to data from the Open Doors Report, India surpassed China as the leading source of international graduate students in the US for the first time since 2009/10. The number of Indian graduate students soared by 63 percent, reaching 165,936 students, a remarkable increase of nearly 64,000 students from the previous year. Additionally, Indian undergraduate students experienced a 16 percent growth.
The federal fiscal year 2023 witnessed the State Department issuing nearly a record-breaking level of non-immigrant visas, surpassing 10 million globally. Half of the US embassies and consulates processed more non-immigrant visas than ever before. In the same period, close to eight million visitor visas for business and tourism were issued, the highest since 2016.
The US Embassy disclosed that it issued almost eight million visitor visas for business and tourism, surpassing any fiscal year since 2015. International visitors contributed an impressive $239 billion in annual spending to the US economy, supporting an estimated 9.5 million American jobs, as per the Department statement.
Noteworthy achievements included a record-breaking issuance of 442,000 visas to temporary and seasonal workers, addressing labor shortages in sectors such as agriculture. This move not only contributed to the American economy but also tackled the root causes of irregular migration, according to the Department.
Moreover, 590,000 non-immigrant visas were granted to high-skilled workers and executives working alongside American experts in critical fields, ranging from emerging technology to healthcare. Additionally, nearly 365,000 non-immigrant visas were issued to airline and shipping crew members, crucial for maintaining global transportation and supply chains.
The Department attributed these accomplishments to innovative solutions, including the expansion of interview waiver authorities, allowing frequent travelers to renew visas without visiting an Embassy or Consulate while meeting strict national security standards.
In response to the rising demand, the US is enhancing staff strength and opening new consulates in India to reduce visa issuance waiting times, as stated by US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti. He anticipates a 10-15 percent increase in visa issuance this calendar year, highlighting a one-third surge in recent weeks.