U.S. issued over 85,000 student visas in China since May as visa curbs eased

Biden administration’s April announcement of easing of restrictions on Chinese student visa applications

  
Masked to protect against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Georgetown University student Jennifer Linares joins others taking advantage of the warm sunshine to study outdoors in Washington, U.S., March 9, 2021.

Masked to protect against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Georgetown University student Jennifer Linares joins others taking advantage of the warm sunshine to study outdoors in Washington, U.S., March 9, 2021.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

BEIJING - The United States has issued more than 85,000 student visas in China since May, its Beijing embassy said on Wednesday, after the Biden administration eased restrictions on applications earlier this year.

State Department data showed that 33,896 F1 student visas were issued to Chinese nationals in June, up from just 8 issued in the previous June and close to the 34,001 in June 2019. F1 visas are the most common U.S. visa for full-time foreign students, and June is typically a busy month.

"The numbers show clearly that the United States stands ready to issue visas to all those who are qualified - including Chinese students and scholars," the embassy said in a statement.

In January 2020, then-President Donald Trump barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who were in China from entering the United States after the start of coronavirus outbreak.

And last September, the Trump administration revoked the visas of hundreds of Chinese students and researchers deemed security risks, amid tense relations with Beijing.

"In light of some abuses of the visa process, the United States implemented a narrowly targeted policy to protect U.S. national security interests,” the U.S. embassy said, which affected a "tiny percentage" of applicants.

The Biden administration’s April announcement of easing of restrictions on Chinese student visa applications gives a boost to U.S. universities struggling financially during the pandemic.

The American Council on Education cited a study saying that the economic benefit generated by international students had declined by some $2 billion during the 2019-20 academic year to around $39 billion.

Around 372,000 Chinese citizens accounted for 35% of international students in the United States in the 2019-20 school year, according to the International Education Exchange (IEE), nearly twice as many as from India, the second-largest source.

In the school year starting in 2019, Chinese students brought an estimated economic benefit of $16 billion to the United States, the IEE report said.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Bernadette Baum)


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