In its annual report released on Wednesday, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact international student enrolment in the United States in 2021.
The total number of SEVIS records for active F-1 and M-1 students was 1,236,748 in the calendar year 2021, a decrease of 1.2% from the calendar year 2020.
SEVIS stands for Students and Exchange Visitor Information System. F-1 and M-1 are the two non-immigrant student visas. J-1 is also a non-immigrant student visa but is mostly given to scholars exchange programmes.
In 2021, 8,038 SEVP-certified schools were eligible to enrol international students, registering a decrease by 280 schools from 8,369 eligible schools in 2020.
“The number of students from China and India made Asia the most popular continent of origin. However, China sent fewer students in 2021 in comparison to 2020 (-33,569) while India sent more students (+25,391),” the report said.
As many as 37% of Indian students are females.
Overall, China continues to top the list of countries sending 348,992 students to the US. India follows China with 232,851 students. China and India are followed by South Korea (58,787), Canada (37,453), Brazil (33,552), Vietnam (29,597), Saudi Arabia (28,600), Taiwan (25,406), Japan (20,144) and Mexico (19,680).
According to the report, only Asia and Australia/Pacific Islands saw an overall decline in the number of students coming to the United States last year as all other continents saw an increase.
International F-1 and M-1 students came from every continent in the world other than Antarctica and from more than 224 countries and territories.
Students from China and India made Asia the most popular continent of origin, accounting for 71.9% of the international student population. China sent fewer international students while India sent more, the report said.
In 2021, California hosted 208,257 international students, the largest percentage of international students (16.8%) of any US state.
There were 240,479 active exchange visitors in the United States in 2021 compared to 256,944 active exchange visitors in 2020, it said.
Most F-1 and M-1 students come to the US to take part in the higher education system. In 2021, roughly 92 per cent of all F-1 and M-1 students were enrolled in a SEVP-certified associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programmes.
Specifically, international students in the US pursued 1,142,352 degrees in higher education, which is an increase from the calendar year 2020 (1,121,981).
It is important to note that one student might partake in more than one level of education in a given calendar year, so they may be counted in multiple educational levels.
USCIS said 47% (581,843) of all active SEVIS records hailed from either China (348,992) or India (232,851) in the calendar year 2021, the same percentage as the calendar year 2020.
While the overall number of active F-1 and M-1 student records coming from Asia decreased by 34,781 from the calendar year 2020 to the calendar year 2021, student record trends varied across different countries, it said.
“The number of international student records from China and India made Asia the most popular continent of origin. However, China sent fewer students in 2021 in comparison to 2020 (-33,569), while India sent more students (+25,391),” it said.
“Still, 71.9% of all international students in the United States call Asia home. Other Asian countries sent fewer students including South Korea (-9,430), Saudi Arabia (-9,439) and Japan (-6,155),” the report said.
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