New York, Nov 29 : The US Embassy and Consulates in India issued an all-time record of more than 140,000 student visas from October 2022 through September 2023, the State Department announced.
Stating that international students at US colleges and universities inject up to $38 billion annually into the country’s economy, the Department said on Tuesday that it issued more than 600,000 student visas — the highest in any year since FY 2017.
During the main student visa season of June-August 2023, consular officers across India issued 95,269 visas in the F, M, and J categories — an 18 per cent increase over 2022 during the same timeframe.
According to Open Doors Report data, India surpassed China to become the largest source of international graduate students in the US for the first time since 2009/10.
The number of Indian graduate students rose by 63 per cent to 165,936 students — an increase of nearly 64,000 students, compared to last year, while Indian undergraduate students also increased by 16 per cent.
The 2023 federal fiscal year saw the State Department issuing a near record level of non-immigrant visas — more than 10 million globally, and half of the US embassies and consulates adjudicated more non-immigrant visas than ever before.
In addition, nearly eight million visitor visas for business and tourism were issued — more than in any fiscal year since 2016.
Additionally, the US Embassy issued nearly eight million visitor visas for business and tourism, more than in any fiscal year since 2015, the statement said.
According to the Department statement, international visitors contributed as much as $239 billion in annual spending to the US economy and supported an estimated 9.5 million American jobs.
A record-breaking 442,000 visas were issued to temporary and seasonal workers, addressing the need for workers in agriculture and other sectors where too few US workers are available — contributing to the American economy while addressing the root causes of irregular migration, the Department stated in its release.
A total of 590,000 non-immigrant visas were issued to high-skilled workers and executives to work alongside American experts in some of the US’ most critical fields, ranging from emerging technology to healthcare.
Nearly 365,000 non-immigrant visas were issued to airline and shipping crew members, who are essential for maintaining global transportation and the supply chains that support the US and global economies.
According to the Department, “these achievements were possible because of innovative solutions, such as expanding interview waiver authorities that allow frequent travelers who meet strict national security standards to renew their visas without having to visit an Embassy or Consulate”.
The US is increasing the staff strength and opening new consulates to reduce waiting time for visa issuance from India, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, said earlier this month.
He also said that the embassy is likely to issue 10-15 per cent more visas than usual in the current calendar year, and that the number of visas issued in India also increased one-third in recent weeks.