f1 visa approvals declined 27 percent india

Here’s Why F1 Visa Approvals in India Declined by 27%

You have your I-20 from few universities. And you are getting ready for F1 visa interview. But, you have one pending decision from your Dream school. Then your phone rings! It’s your skeptical uncle. Your parents look-up to him for his advice. You convinced your parents against his advice to study in the USA.

Your uncle says “Did you read the news? 27% decline F1 Visa issued to Indian students going to the USA? Are you sure you want to go to the USA in the scenario?”

Your parents are on the fence again. Now, you are back in your living room for another round of discussion and your skeptical uncle is also there.

Now, how do you defend your position? Maybe you are in dilemma as well! But, you are an engineer and you want see the numbers. That’s what we are going to just do.

Reasons for Decline in F1 Visa Issued in India

As per the latest data published by the U.S. Department of State, F-1 Visas issued compared to 2016 decreased by 27% for Indian students.

Why did the numbers drop?

  1. Number of students applying for F1 Visa deceased  (and/or)
  2. Visa officers are not issuing visas (aka, increase in F1 Visa Denials)

And it can be combination of both – Decline in students applying for F Visa and increase in student visa rejection.

Number don’t lie. Right? Let’s dig deeper.

Total F1 Visa Issued Worldwide

Following chart (1) lists the total number of F1 Visa approved from FY 2013 to 2017. Notice the decline in F1 Visa approved from 2015 to 2016 to 2017.

Note: The data for 2017 is only till September 30, 2017.

Note: President Tump took office in Jan 2017.

The total F1 Visa approvals started to decline from Oct 1, 2015 to Sep 30, 2016 (FY 2016). Even before President Trump took office.

  • Percentage Decline of F1 Visa from 2015 to 2016: 26%
  • Percentage Decline of F1 Visa from 2015 to 2016: 16%

First chart shows decline in total number of F1 Visa approved between 2016 and 2017. To really find out if applications declined or rejections increased, we have to look at Total Number of F1 Visa Applications and F1 Visa Denials rate. 

Total F1 Student Visa Issued for Indian Students

From the worldwide F1 Visa statistics, let’s drill down to F-1 Student visa issued to Indian Students between 2008 to 2017.

F1 Visa issued for Indian Students Statistics 2013 - 2017

Clearly, number of F1 Visa issued in India shows declining trend from 2016 into 2017.

This trend coincides with decline in F1 Visa approvals from 2015 to 2016 to 2017.

  • Percentage decline from 2015 to 2016:16%
  • Percentage decline from 2016 to 2017: 27%

If the trend holds, number of Indian students going to USA could hit 30,000 mark for 2018.

F1 Visa Approva vs Denial Rate

F1 Visa approval rate F1 Visa Denial Rate


There are four useful statistics for F1 Visa from above Chart (#3).

  • Total F1 Visa Issued
  • Total F1 Visa Denied
  • Total F1 Visa Applicants
  • F1 Visa Denial Rate

The number I’m interested is Total F1 Visa Applicants and F1 Visa Denial Rate.

Total F1 Visa Applicants

The following chart shows the total number of student F1 Visa applications (sum of F1 Visa issued and refused).

Total F1 Visa Refusals for FY 2017 is not yet published.

total f1 visa student applicants statistics

There’s decline in total number of F1 Visa applicants from 2015 to 2016.

  • The percent decrease in F1 Visa Applicants: 16%

Why 27% Decline in F1 Visa for Indian Students

To answer the question –  What is the reason for 27% decrease in number of F1 Visa Issued for Indian Students? I’m going to only compare for 2015 to 2016.

  • Decrease in Total F1 Visa Applicants: 16%
  • Decline in F1 Visa Approval from 2015 to 2016: 26%
  • Decline in F1 Visa for Indian students from 2015 to 2016:16%
  • Increase in F1 Visa Denial Rate for 2015 and 2016: 10%

Initially I proposed two possible reasons and questions for decline in number of  F1 Visa approved in India.

  1. Decrease on number of applicants
  2. Increase in F1 Visa Denials

You probably know the answer. Yes, there’s decrease in total F1 Visa applicants. Yes, F1 Visa Denial rate has increased. And both factors played a role in 27% decline in F1 Visa issued to Indian students. And, I’m left with more questions.

  • Why F1 Visa applications decline even before President Trump took office?
  • Did F1 Visa denials rate increase because of President Trump’s policy changes?
  • Did F1 Visa refusals increase to due to increase in low quality applicants?
  • If President Trump had not won the Election, would the trend continued?

Now comes the biggest question:

  • What should you do or What are you planning to do?
  • Would your parents follow your uncle’s advice and postpone your plans to study in the USA?

In mean time, I had a discussion with a student in the USA on OPT. Let’s hear the advice he gave to his friends and relatives about coming to study in the USA.


  1. Navyashree on August 11, 2018 at 7:52 AM

    It was a nice article and good to know information. I have done my Masters in UK and continued to work in India for 6 years now. I have applied for masters in computer science in US and my first attempt got refused. I am now going for second attempt. Is there any tip you can give me? To convince the consular?

  2. Prakash on July 17, 2018 at 1:59 PM

    F1 visa is for those who know English well

  3. Gary on June 11, 2018 at 10:43 PM

    I have H4 Visa stamped but not travelled but now planning to come on F1 along with my kid who has H4. will that cause any issue at port of entry

    please advise.

  4. VARUN on May 2, 2018 at 10:43 PM

    I got 4 rejects for f1 visa for the last two seasons i.e., for fall-2017 and spring-2018. Now i’m going to reapply for it. Please help me out Raghuram!

  5. Chandra Naga Srinivasa Rao Desu on March 25, 2018 at 12:47 AM

    USA may not be the best country for high skilled Indian immigrants.
    But you should know that technical skills required to survive after completing the education in US are too demanding.

  6. Eshan on March 22, 2018 at 5:45 PM

    Wasn’t the whole STEM OPT reform came around the same time (late 2015/early 2016)? The immigration to USA looked like getting tough every 3-4 years. Maybe that’s the reason why people preferred to stay back in India and apply to immigrate in other countries like Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  7. Sarath on March 21, 2018 at 8:54 PM

    1st table data shows total f1 approvals worldwide, 2nd table data shows f1 visa approvals among Indian students

    How come data count is greater in 2nd table than 1st table ? Ie f1 visa approvals among indians students is greater than worldwide f1 visa approvals?

    • Raghuram Sukumar on March 21, 2018 at 11:13 PM

      Table 1 – 6 Digits. Table 2 – 5 Digits.

  8. Ajeya on March 21, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    Great Stats.
    Nice compilation.

  9. AnonDesi on March 20, 2018 at 1:44 PM

    I agree with this post that Trump may not have much to do with the dip.

    The USA is not a great country at treating all it’s immigrants equally, and high skilled immigrants from India are the worst treated, in terms of the immigration process pertaining to permanent residency.

    USA probably should look outward a bit and understand that it is not just USA’s policies (from the times of Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations) that affect the number of students coming in every year.

    IIRC, Canada’s express entry started in Jan 2016 (coincidence that student visa applications fall off the cliff in the US?) and has only continued to pick up steam from there on. Many many prospective students/immigrants I know personally, have shelved their plans to move to the US, and chose Canada/Germany since Indians are treated much better there (in terms of PR process).

    When many prospective students know the problems that exist for high skilled immigrants in the USA, is it any surprise why there’s a dip?

    Unless you are very fortunate, you cannot lead a life in the US feeling equal, let alone to citizens of US, but also to other immigrants.

    • PMM on March 27, 2018 at 12:28 PM


  10. Raju on March 20, 2018 at 6:43 AM

    I had got rejected f1 visa last two intakes 8 times Wt can I do could you please give some suggestions

  11. Anuraag on March 20, 2018 at 5:27 AM

    Enlightening statistics

  12. Suresh Chetta on March 20, 2018 at 3:20 AM

    I have applied for F1 visa not get but I want to appear again for visa

    • Raghuram Sukumar on March 20, 2018 at 10:07 AM

      Why was your visa rejected?

      • Shobana Jayapalan on April 21, 2018 at 6:32 AM

        Hello Raghuram,
        This is Shobana Jayapalan from India. Just saw your post on your Visa interview experience way back in 2011(https://www.happyschools.com/f1-visa-mumbai-interview-mpharm/). As a prospective student of Masters in Biotechnology at UHCL, it would be great if you wish to share your insights about the program and your experiences at the university.

        • Raghuram Sukumar on May 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM

          Here’s a cold hard fact – It’s tough for Biotech students in the USA after MS on F1 Visa if you plan to find a job. Your upward mobility is limited and salary in comparison to others are very low. You may start at 35k per year and after 10 years, you could hit 70k.

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