Black college students. Credit: University of Rochester - Photo: 2023

US Slams Doors on Africans Seeking Student Visas

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK. 30 July 2023 (IDN) — As the effects of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action come to light, another opportunity for students of color is being strangled, according to data from the U.S. Government, the UN and World Bank.

According to reporting by Nigerian reporter Alexander Onukwue of Semafor, the data from these institutions reveals that the rate of U.S. visa refusals for African students increased to more than one in two (54%) in 2022 from 44% in2015.

The data appears in a document titled New Report Finds Disproportion F-1 Visa Denials in Africa and the Global South, which can be found on the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration website.

“There is much hand-wringing about why the U.S. is not attracting more international students and yet—as our new and first-ever analysis shows—there is global talent that is eager and poised to study and succeed in the U.S., yet is turned away,” said Rajika Bhandari, Senior Advisor at the Presidents’ Alliance.

“International students today overcome many hurdles to study in the U.S., but a visa represents the ultimate barrier to entry that can thwart the dreams and potential of these students while also shortchanging U.S. institutions, the workforce, and our economy. Everybody loses when a well-qualified student is denied a visa.”

Authors of the report looked at the period from 2015 to 2022. With a few exceptions (South Africa, South Asia and parts of the Middle East) visa denial rates for African countries remained the highest.

International student enrollment in the U.S. has shot up 72% since the turn of the century, reports the online publication Semafor. Most foreign students in the U.S. are from China (35%), India (18%) and South Korea(4%). Nigerians are sub-Saharan Africans major representatives with 1% or about12,860 students.

In the Presidents Alliance report, writes Onukwue, the authors question whether the increase in refusals reflects an overall negative public narrative toward international students and immigrants in general, especially those from certain countries and regions.

But the 15% rise for refusal rates for Africans coincided with former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance, including a travel ban that affected Nigeria.

College-educated immigrants have repeatedly reported to be good for American productivity yet student visa refusals are on the rise for Africans. As a consequence, says Onukwue, a Carnegie Mellon University $12 million campus in Rwanda and the African Leadership University are turning the east African country have become an alternative of choice for African students to studying in western countries.

Meanwhile, Canada is taking steps pro-actively to woo qualified Africans wishing to study in Canadian institutions. In 2018, the office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Client Support Center services (IRCC) said it regularly hosts webinars to explain the permit application process.

Further, it has launched a Student Direct Stream in Senegal and Morocco and a new initiative called the Nigeria Student Express to expedite processing of applications—all of which led to an increase in the approval rate from 20% in 2019 to 80% in 2022. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Black college students. Credit: University of Rochester

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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