Despite the curbs enforced and the reduced staff capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the United States Embassy and Consulate General in India has strived to issue visas to students planning to study in the United States of America (USA) on priority. Students who are planning to pursue various study programmes at different levels in the country for the academic year 2021-22 are encouraged to apply for their visas.
Robert Batchelder, consular section chief, US Consulate General Mumbai, told the Free Press Journal, “Prior to COVID-19, Indian students comprised the second largest population amongst foreign students studying in US universities after China at the top. They contribute around 8 billion dollars annually to the US economy through academic tuition fees, accommodation and other expenses.”
Batchelder said, “Though the pandemic has had a significant effect and we are working with reduced staff members, our priority is to extend our consular services and process student visas. We are also catering to the emergency requests sent by students in exceptional cases.”
As per the data reports of the US Department of State-Bureau of Consular Affairs, 15,323 F-1 (which is the visa required for a student academic or language training programme in the USA) or student visas were issued to Indian students for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 calculated from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 by the United States Embassy and Consulate General in India. While in FY 2019, 43,714 F-1 or student visas were issued to Indian students.
Batchelder said, “We are maintaining all the COVID-19 safety protocols. Currently, there might be some delay in scheduling visa interview appointments due to the limited staff for offline visa interviews on account of the curbs. But, we are fully committed to every possible effort needed to process visas for students.”
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak in India last year, the number of student visas issued rose to 8,493 F-1 in December, 2020, as compared to 5,038 F-1 issued in December, 2019. Jigar Hansraj, a student planning to study in the USA, said, “I think there are more students applying to study abroad this year compared to last year, because many deferred their admissions last year due to the pandemic.” Students can send in their visa-related questions to email@example.com.
Number of F-1 Student visas issued by the United States Embassy and Consulate General in India in the last six months
1,102 F-1 issued in March 2021
738 F-1 issued in February 2021
2,242 F-1 issued in January 2021
8,493 F-1 issued in December 2020
4,496 F-1 issued in November 2020
2,273 F-1 issued in October 2020