Indian students have become the largest group of international graduate students in the United States, accounting for more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the country.
This comes as an increasing number of Indian students choose to study abroad, with the United States remaining one of the top four preferred destinations, alongside Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
According to figures released by the US Embassy and Consulates in India on Monday, the US issued more than 1.4 lakh student visas to Indians in 2023, more than any other country in the world, and set a record for the third year running.
According to the statement, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai are now the top four cities for processing student visas globally.
The US Embassy statement provided an overview of other categories of visas issued to Indian citizens last year, stating that they processed 1.4 million (14 lakh) visas in India by 2023. Despite an unprecedented increase in demand for visas across all classes, appointment wait times have decreased by 75%.
Demand for all visa classes was unprecedented, with a 60% increase in applications versus 2022. According to the report, Indians now make up one in every ten US visa applicants worldwide.
Visitor visas (B1/B2) have rebounded to the second highest number of applications in the US Mission’s history, with more than seven lakhs.
“Process improvements and staffing investments have brought the appointment wait time for visitor visas down from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country,” said the official communiqué from the US Embassy.
Employment visas remain a top priority, according to the US, as it prepares to launch a pilot programme that will allow eligible H1B holders to renew their visas in the US. The move will benefit Indian tech workers significantly, as they will be able to process their visas while in the United States, according to the statement. More than 3,80,000 employment visas for Indians and their families were processed in 2023.
In late 2022, in response to rising visa waiting times following the pandemic, the United States announced a significant liberalisation of the visa process for Indian citizens, expanding the interview waiver in a variety of categories, including student visas, business and tourist visas, and skilled worker visas.