Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Student and Exchange Visitor Update: F, M, J Visa Processing Resumes Worldwide; Expedited Processing, Record Numbers of Students Announced

The Department of State recently identified difficulties with its Consolidated Consular Database (CCD) communications with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The Department discovered this issue on November 14, 2011, and subsequently instructed embassies and consulates worldwide to halt, temporarily, the issuance of all F, M and J visas. SEVP and the Department subsequently resolved the difficulties as of November 18, 2011, and the Department instructed embassies and consulate to resume issuing F, M, and J visas immediately.

Separately, the Department of State announced in conjunction with International Education Week on November 14, 2011, that “[a]ll U.S. embassies and consulates expedite visa processing for foreign students to ensure qualified students are able to begin their academic program on time.” Worldwide, the maximum wait for a student visa appointment is now fewer than 15 days, the Department said. Foreign students may apply for their visas up to 120 days before their academic programs begin. The Department encourages all visa applicants to apply early.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), international students attending U.S. colleges and universities rose to a record 723,277 in the 2010-2011 academic year. The five percent rise over the previous academic year was fueled by a sharp increase in the number of Chinese students coming to the United States. Chinese students increased by 23 percent altogether and by 43 percent at the undergraduate level. IIE reported that Chinese student enrollment rose to a total of nearly 158,000 students, or nearly 22 percent of the total international student population in the United States, making China the leading sending country for the second year in a row. Students from India, the second largest international cohort in the United States, decreased by one percent to a total of nearly 104,000, IIE said. IIE noted Department of Commerce statistics showing that international students contribute more than $21 billion to the U.S. economy through tuition and living expenditures.

For the tenth year in a row, the University of Southern California is the leading host institution, with 8,615 international students in academic year 2010/11, IIE reported. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosts the second highest number of foreign students (7,991), with New York University a close #3 (7,988). California remains the leading host state for international students (96,535, up 2 percent), followed by New York (78,888, up 4 percent), and Texas (61,636, up 5 percent).

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.