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.