Monday, June 28, 2021

The Biden Bounce: US Student Visa Applications From Pakistan Jump 37% in 2021

Student visa applications from Pakistan have jumped 37% this year. Overall, the number of international student applicants has increased by about 9% this year from last year, according to data from the Common App, as of January 22, 2021. Most of the top “sending” countries are showing increases, with the notable exception of China, the leading source of international students. But that decrease has been more than offset by substantial increases from countries like India, Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, according to a report in Forbes magazine.

Pakistani F-1 Students in the United States. Source: Open Door

Although applications from China are down by 18% from last year, that loss is more than offset by large increases in applicants from several other countries; including India (+28%), Canada (+22%), Nigeria (+12%), Pakistan (+37%), the United Kingdom (+23%), and Brazil (+41%), according to Forbes. American colleges and universities have welcomed the trend. 43% of educational institutions are reporting an increase in their international student applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

The bounce is being attributed to declining COVID cases and the anticipation of the Biden Administration's liberal visa policy. President Joseph R. Biden has signaled his welcoming attitude toward foreign arrivals by signing a number of executive orders ranging from the revocation of Trump's "Muslim ban" to reinstatement of DACA protection.  

In the last pre-COVID academic year 2018-19, nearly 2,000 new F-1 students arrived in the United States from Pakistan, making it the 25th largest sending country. In the same academic year, China was the top sending country with nearly 100,000 new students enrolling in American universities. India was second with about 43,000 students. 

There were 7,939 Pakistani students studying on F-1 visa in the United States, ranking the country as the 22nd among countries sending students to the United States. China topped with nearly 370,000 international students in the United States while India was second with just over 200,000 students. 

Earlier in 2021,  representatives from 13 top US universities visited Pakistan and met thousands of Pakistani students at college fairs in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi as part of EducationUSA’s 16th South Asia Tour.  They shared valuable information about their institutions’ academic programs, campus life, financial aid options, and application procedures, according to the US Embassy in Pakistan.  

Since 2005, Pakistan’s Fulbright Program is the world’s largest in terms of financial contribution from the U.S. Government. The Government of Pakistan, through the Higher Education Commission (HEC), has also provided generous support. Every year approximately 100 Pakistanis begin master’s programs, and another 50 begin PhD studies on Fulbright scholarships at leading U.S. universities. 


Mayraj F. said...

I hope these students are making wise choices because in many universities quality of teaching has declined; while costs has become exorbitant and not worth it.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "I hope these students are making wise choices because in many universities quality of teaching has declined; while costs has become exorbitant and not worth it."

The fact that the Chinese are coming in such large numbers to the US for STEM education at colleges and universities is an indication that the quality of US education is still superior to that of the rest of the world.

Mayraj F. said...

In China it is more competitive to get into top universities. I remember reading that from a comment by a Chinese student on some webforum.

Also see:

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "In China it is more competitive to get into top universities. I remember reading that from a comment by a Chinese student on some webforum"

I think those who seek an Ivy League degree are looking for its brand value more than the actual quality of learning.

Ivy League schools know it. That's why they don't award degrees for online courses which offer essentially the same content as in-person courses.

This idea can be extended to other top US schools such as UC Berkeley or UCLA.

Ahmed said...


Thank you for sharing such useful and informative post, as far as I know, Chinese Universities are no doubt listed in the top 50 or 100 Universities of the world in QS ranking but they are not listed in the top 20 Universities of the world. The top 20 Universities of the world are mostly from America,Canada or Europe.

Riaz Haq said...

UMaine welcomes U.S. Department of State Global UGRAD-Pakistan student

International student Afsah Pervaiz has joined the University of Maine community as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan). Pervaiz is an undergraduate student studying microbiology.

The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program, established in 2010, places Pakistani participants at U.S. colleges and universities for a semester of study abroad, leadership skills building and professional development. It is part of a broader U.S. Department of State effort to promote greater understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.

Through semester-long academic coursework, exploration of U.S. culture, participation in community service projects, and interactions with Americans in their host communities and campuses, Global UGRAD-Pakistan participants develop expertise in their academic fields and gain a broad and nuanced understanding of American culture and values. Global UGRAD-Pakistan participants enrich the lives of the Americans they meet by sharing their culture and bringing a global perspective to their host communities.

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by IREX. More information about the program is online.

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan) provides emerging youth leaders from diverse communities across Pakistan with the opportunity to attend American universities and colleges for non-degree academic study.

During a semester of undergraduate classes and community engagement, participants strengthen their leadership, academic, and career-preparedness skills while building relationships with Americans. Participants return home as engaged leaders committed to tackling pressing challenges in their communities and fostering greater understanding between people of the United States and Pakistan.

Global UGRAD-Pakistan is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by IREX.

Riaz Haq said...

The United States and Pakistan Break Ground on U.S. Education Foundation of Pakistan Headquarters - U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Pakistan

Islamabad, February 16, 2022: Today marks a new milestone in the 75 years of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship with the groundbreaking of the first permanent headquarters for the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP).

U.S. Embassy Islamabad ChargĂ© d’affaires Angela P. Aggeler noted: “Today’s ground-breaking is just the next step in the tremendous work of USEFP and each of you who are dedicated to bringing our people together through education, and eager to watch it continue for decades to come.”

In 1950, the United States and Pakistan officially formed a bilateral commission – now known as USEFP – to exchange Masters’ and PhD students. Today, USEFP manages a wide range of educational and professional exchange programs, including the largest Fulbright Program in the world, between Pakistan and the United States, and many thousands of alumni of those programs are leaders throughout the country.

Rita Akhtar, Executive Director of the USEFP, added that the Capital Development Authority’s land donation to this project and the participation of iconic architect Nayyar Ali Dada were further indications of how favorably Pakistan views the opportunities afforded by U.S. higher education.

The new headquarters will serve as a state-of-the-art facility for managing U.S. government-funded exchange programs, such as the Fulbright program, and for the Islamabad advising center of EducationUSA, the official U.S. government resource for all students interested in pursuing education opportunities in the Untied States

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign student enrollment at U.S. universities fell 15% amid COVID-19

Number of Pakistani students in US fell by 5.8% to 7,475 in 2020-21.

Fewer than 1 million foreign students enrolled for either online or in-person classes at U.S. universities in the 2020-21 school year, comprising 4.6% of total enrollment at American higher educational institutions. That not only marks a 15% year-over-year decrease from the 2019-20 school year, but also marks the first time since 2014-15 that fewer than a million international students have enrolled at U.S. institutions.

China remained the leading place of origin for international students, with 35% of all international students in the 2020-21 school year hailing from the country. The second most common place of origin was India (18%), followed by South Korea (4%) and Canada (3%). Some of these countries also experienced the largest year-over-year decreases in the number of students who enrolled at U.S. institutions. The largest such percentage decreases occurred in South Korea (-21%), China (-15%) and India (-13%).

The overall decrease in the number of foreign students in the U.S. in 2020-21 was driven by sizable reductions in first-time students coming from abroad – in many cases due to border closings, flight cancellations or other challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riaz Haq said...

For US Visa, Over 2-Year Wait For New Delhi, Just 2 Days For Beijing
There's an appointment wait-time of 833 days for applications from Delhi and 848 days from Mumbai for visitor visas.

Indian visa applicants require a wait-time of over two years just for getting an appointment, a US government website showed, while the timeframe is only two days for countries like China.

There's an appointment wait-time of 833 days for applications from Delhi and 848 days from Mumbai for visitor visas, shows the US State Department's website. In contrast, the wait-time is only two days for Beijing and 450 days for Islamabad

For student visas, the wait time is 430 days for Delhi and Mumbai. Surprisingly, it's only one day for Islamabad, and two for Beijing.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, who is in the US, yesterday raised the issue of visa applications backlog with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The top US diplomat said he's "extremely sensitive" to the issue and that they are facing a similar situation around the world, a challenge arising due to Covid.

Riaz Haq said...

United States Ambassador Donald Blome joined officials from the University of Utah and the Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, to inaugurate the International Summit on Higher Education and Workforce Development today.

The summit was organized by the U.S.-funded Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) and focuses on the role of higher education in the 21st century, highlighting the fluid nature of learning and employment, and explores how universities can reposition themselves in this ever-changing landscape.

Ambassador Donald Blome celebrated the 75 years of partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan and said, “In a country where more than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30, we must continue to help youth achieve their full potential.”

Minister Iqbal remarked that the Government of Pakistan is open to improving the higher education system and is looking into various options to capitalize on the abundant youth potential in the country. He appreciated Pakistan’s 75-year partnership with the U.S. government and celebrated the support provided by the U.S. government to academia through specialized investment in higher education. He further added that academic institutions and the public and private sectors should join hands to accelerate this development. Mr. Iqbal tasked Pakistani higher education officials to improve higher education.

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), said that HEC will continue working with the U.S. government to build a cadre of experts to improve graduate employability.

Senator Keith Grover, Utah State Senator from the United States noted, “it is the ultimate goal of an institute to provide necessary skills for youth so they can positively contribute to the workforce both locally and globally.”

HESSA is supported by the United States through USAID, and is implemented in collaboration with 16 Pakistani public universities and other stakeholders, with a focus on strengthening universities’ capacity to deliver market-driven education, research, and graduate employability.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan ranks 16th in terms of international students studying in the United States.

There are 8,772 Pakistanis studying in the United States in 2021/22, up 17% from the prior year when COVID restrictions reduced international travel.


There has been a 17 percent year-on-year increase in the number of Pakistani students in the United States during 2021-22, says an official US report.

The report, released in Washington this week, notes that the United States remains the top destination for international students and the number of students from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and Pakistan is on the rise!

In South Asia, Bangladesh topped the list with a 23 per cent year-over-year increase, followed by India with a 19pc increase.

Pakistan also has the largest US-funded Fulbright programme in the world, which sends 150 Pakistanis each year to US universities — 100 to earn their master’s degrees and 50 to earn PhDs.

The United States also sponsors 800 Pakistanis each year to travel on exchange programs — from high school students who spend a year at a US high school to professionals who connect with their American counterparts. As a result, Pakistan is home to the largest network of alumni of US government-funded exchange programmes in the world.

The “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange,” published this week, identified China and India as the largest sources of international students to the United States. During the current academic year, China sent 290,086 students, which is 30.6pc of the total number of international students in the US. Yet, it is a decline of 8.6pc, compared to the previous academic year. India, which sent 199,183 students this year — 21 percent of the total — registered a 19pc year-over-year increase. Toge­ther, China and India represent the majority (almost 52pc) of all international students in the United States.

This year’s report shows a 91pc decline in the total number of US students who studied abroad during the 2020-2021 academic year. This is apparently because since the Covid-19 pandemic, 62pc of US colleges offer virtual internships.

While the pandemic also caused a 45.6pc decline in new international students in 2020, the latest data, covering the 2021-2022 academic year, indicates that the total number of international students in the US — 948,519 — has started to recover.

This can be seen in a 3.8pc increase over the 914,095 international students in the US in 2020. Still, the number is well below the nearly 1.1 million international students reported in 2018.

Much of the recent growth is driven by an increase in the number of new international students — 261,961 – which is up 80pc over the 145,528 from 2020 but still 2.14pc below the 267,712 from 2019. Over the past decade, US colleges enrolled more students from China than from any other country. The onset of the global pandemic effectively halted travel between China and the US and political tensions further exacerbated the situation. Now, many Chinese parents feel their children are safe in the US.

The increase in Indian students is also attributed to the Biden administration’s policy of prioritising the student-visa processing in India. This includes adding more staff at US missions in India and streamlining the process, Chinese visa approvals are trending lower than in past years.

Riaz Haq said...

US generously provides opportunities to Pakistani students: education official

Washington has been investing generously on Pakistani students to provide them with the best education opportunities and every year more than 800 students travel to the United States (US).

This was highlighted by deputy assistant secretary Bureau of Educational and Culture Affairs of US Department of States Ethan Rosenzweig, who is currently in Pakistan on a brief visit.

Exclusively speaking to Dawn here on Thursday, the visiting US education official said there were a lot of opportunities for Pakistani students to study in his country, through scholarships and a number of exchange programmes.

“I arrived yesterday (Wednesday) and what struck me immediately was that everyone is so kind, funny and welcoming. The hospitality of the Pakistani community is something which I will remember for a long time,” said Mr Rosenzweig while sharing his experience of visiting Pakistan.

Talking about the Fulbright scholarship progamme, he said this programme was the premier international exchange programme for students, researchers and scholars. He said Pakistan had the largest US government-funded Fulbright programme in the world.

Mr Rosenzweig said the US-Pakistan relationship and Fulbright programme were beneficial to fight global challenges together such as climate change, global health and strengthening of freedom of expression and democratic values.

“Under this programme, the US government has been ensuring that students have opportunities in the US. I am so excited because our Fulbright programme is larger than any country. It is larger than Germany, larger than the United Kingdom and larger than Australia,” he said and added that he was here to celebrate the success of this programme and the important diplomatic relationship between both countries.

“I believe relationships between the two countries will be more stronger regardless of impediments occurring in Pakistan,” he added, without elaborating.

“We have over 800 Pakistanis coming to the US every year through exchange programmes. Whether its young leaders, researchers or community officials coming for a short stay, they travel to the US every year, because both the countries have been enjoying cordial bilateral and diplomatic relations.

“The US has a large alumni network of 37,000 members in Pakistan and alumni groups have been playing an important role in Pakistan by applying the experience they gained from US,” he said.

Mr Rosenzweig said that the Humphrey programme is also one of the most important programmes, under which the US invites Pakistani leaders, government officials and others to visit the country and work on pressing issues, such as climate change and global health.

He said that he was here to attend an important dialogue [Humphrey Conference], which is being attended by alumni under the theme of ‘Combatting Climate Change’, adding that he was glad to see current leaders engaged in solving challenges.

When asked about the inactive status of the six-week-long partnership programme for Pakistani journalists for the last few years, he said that he will check it out, saying, “There are so many programmes that bring professionals to the US, whether it is a short visit to travel around to meet government leaders, semester visits for students or longer visits for researchers. I want to celebrate what we have.”

To another question, he said that they also have a sports diplomacy programme and programmes for differently-abled students. “When it comes to ensuring that differently-abled students have opportunities, we are leaders in this field and are also working directly with Pakistan with specific grants to help teach differently-abled students. All students deserve great education,” he said.

Responding to a question about the recent floods in Pakistan which also damaged educational infrastructure, he said: “The US is deeply committed towards ensuring that Pakistan has the resources to recover from the flood.”