The number of Non-Immigrant US visas issued to Indian Nationals increased by 4 times between 1997 and 2018. However, the total number of such visas in 2018 has marginally decreased compared to 2017. On the other hand, the number of student visas has come down by more than 40% between 2015 & 2018.
Data from the US Department of State indicates that student visas to Indian nationals decreased by more than 40% between 2015 & 2018 while the total number of non-immigrant visas has decreased marginally in 2018 compared to 2017. (Note: The US Department of State releases data for every fiscal year which follows an October to September cycle. For FY18, the cycle would be October 2017 to September 2018. The years referred to in this story are all fiscal years)
More than half the Visas issued to Indian Nationals are B-1 & B-2
The following are some of the common visa categories in which visas are issued.
Business Visa (B-1): Consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference, settle an estate, negotiate a contract etc.
Tourism & Visit (B-2): Tourism, vacation (holiday), visit with friends or relatives, medical treatment, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests etc.
Temporary Work Visa (H-1B): To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent.
Dependent Visa (H-4): A dependent visa issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.
Student Visa (F-1): To enter the USA to attend university or college.
Intracompany Transfer (L): To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
The above categories of visas accounted for more than 90% of the Non-Immigrant visas issued to Indian nationals between 2007 and 2018. More than 57% of the visas issued are in the B-1,2 categories. H-1B accounted for 12.8% of all the visas while more than 9.8% of the visas were in the H-4 category. The student visas (F-1) accounted for 5.5%.
Non-Immigrant Visas increased by 4 times in 22 years, decreased marginally in 2018
The total number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Indian nationals has increased by almost 4 times in the last 22 years, from 1997 to 2018. From 2.49 lakh non-immigrant visas in 1997, the number crossed 1 million in 2017 and it remained at more than a million even in 2018. In fact, the number of visas has more than doubled between 2009 and 2017. Except for the decrease in 2002, 2005, 2008 & 2009, the number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Indian nationals has increased every year between 1997 & 2017. In fact, the number of nonimmigrant visas issued increased by over 70% between 2012 and 2015, during Barrack Obama’s second term as the POTUS. However, there has been a marginal decrease in these visas from 1.009 million in 2017 to 1.006 million in 2018.
Trump effect is real – Student Visas down 40% in 4 years
The impact of Trump’s presidency is most evident in the number of student visas issued by the US. The number of student visas (F-1) to Indians decreased by more than 40% from 74831 in 2015 to 42694 in 2018. Even globally, the number student visas issued by US decreased by close to 40% between 2015 & 2018.
But this is not the only time that the number of student visas to Indians has decreased. In 2002, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the number of student visas decreased by over 15%. The year 2009 also saw a huge reduction in the number of student visas to Indian nationals. The number of student visas in that year decreased by more than 25%. In fact, Barrack Obama’s first term as the POTUS coincided with the worst times for student visas to Indians. The number of student visas decreased from 36149 in 2008 to 23446 in 2012. Surprisingly, Obama’s second term was the best ever for Indian students. The number of student visas increased almost 3 times from 23446 in 2012 to 74831 in 2015. Since then, the number has only decreased every successive year. In the last 4 years, the number has decreased from 74831 in 2015 to 42694 in 2018.
Chennai US consulate issued the most Visas in the last 10 years
US Consulates in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata & Mumbai issue US Visas. The consulate in Hyderabad started issuing visas in 2009. In the period between 2007 and 2018, the Chennai consulate issued almost a third or 32.14% (25.26 lakh) of all the non-immigrant visas issued in India. The consulate in Mumbai issued 28.5% (22.42 lakh) of all the visas. The Delhi consulate issued 20.2% (15.9 lakh) visas followed by Hyderabad consulate which issued 14.33% (11.26 lakh) visas. The consulate in Kolkata issued only 4.77% of all the non-immigrant visas issued between 2007 and 2018, the least of all the issuing offices in India.