f1 visa approvals declined 27 percent india
F1 Visa

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.

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  1. I came to the US in Jan 1981 on a FI student visa to study Electrical Engineering. I spent 3 months doing a research of students in Mumbai India who were refused a visa and those who got a visa before I went for an interview on the 19th of Dec 1980.
    1. Have all your papers in order.
    2. Have a good reason why you would come back after your studies. In fact the US immigration officers in the US love qualified people to get their green cards and citizenship and like Indians a lot because we are so well educated unlike the US immigration officers in India who do not want you to stay in the US after your studies. But you cannot blame them because they are instructed to do that.
    Just persevere and you will succeed.
    I got my Electrical Engineering degree in Tennessee and then moved to the silicon valley in San Jose California. This place has the most jobs in Electrical Engineering and Computer Programming in the whole world. I worked there until I retired. I made a lot of money bought a big house and I am comfortably retired. I got my green card and my US Citizenship many many years back.
    The secrete is perseverance and hard work.

  2. Hi Shree,
    My question is from visa persective. My boyfriend is going this year to pursue his masters(business analytics) in the US. I am currently preparing and will be applying next year. Will i be asked about my significant other during the interview. I do not want to consider going on f2 and then changing my status

    1. You have to answer the DS-160 and I don’t think unless you are married, you will be related. But, I would tell that my boyfriend is in the same school as a reason for going to a specific school (if you plan to apply to the same school).

  3. hi there,
    i have applied for f1 visa and got refusal twice. one from delhi and other from mumbai. can you suggest me the right time to apply for usa visa again. also i hsve 2 i-20’s and scholarship from 1.

  4. How does it make sense to derive any logic from this statement from the Uncle?

    “…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?”…”

    How does it matter on the visa rejection to pursue studies in the USA? After all one can always apply again. It has nothing to do with studying in the USA? Not logical at all. Either the uncle didn’t know how to argue or the staements are false or simply miscommunicated in his article as a result of direct mistranslation.


  5. I have got an admit for Fall 2019 in MS in Business Analytics and Project Management. I have 4 months to carry out the whole process. This is the first time that I will be applying for a US visa F1.
    Could you please let me know how should I proceed and what is the right time to give Visa interview so that i have a scope of reapplying for Fall 2019 starting in August end of 2019.

        1. Doesn’t really matter. When will you feel really ready for the interview is what matters 🙂

          Did you check out F1 Visa Coaching?

    1. Is there any reason you would’t apply as soon as the rules permit and have yourself the maximum time to reapply just in case you get a reject (a small chance)?

      What kind of advice did you expect to receive that you already knew the response for?

      I don’t want you to misconstrue my response as abrasvie given that students of today are barely 7% employable and hardly possess any critical thinking skills. I don’t undersand why this student couldn’t answer his own question without having to come online unless he didn’t share something he was supposed to which prompted him to think this way.

      I give the benefit of doubt to the student if he is willing to share information not revealed yet. Be effecive in your thought process.

      Questions posted on Quora (especailly ones relating to higher studies in the USA) clearly tell us that students of that generation (whichever that prompts them to post certain questions) are seriously coming from one that codones entitlement, where everything is available to them without having to make any effort to find it.

  6. Hello,
    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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. As your senior who came for masters in 2008. And now currently working on my 3rd job in the US after 2 horrible layoffs that almost got me to leave the country US. I can say the stress is not worth it for young Indian kids who have brighter prospects and freedoms in other countries other than the US. To put things more clearly im 32 now. I came to the US when i was 23. I’ll be 52 by the time i get a green card to stay here without being sent back if ilose my job. Next 20 years for me will be uncertain and hell. So my young indian kids please be well informed of how difficult it will be for you if you come to the US.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. Totally uncorroborated conclusion. Biotechnology is one of the hottest fields in the US and deveoped nations. Like any other field, I would strongly suggest you having computer minor (lloks like Python is in the top list of most marketable choices). With that skill you can get into sales, production, marketing, and management down the road. Look up LinkedIn for salaries and other details.

          2. Hello Shree – I have family members in Biotech (aka my younger brother is one of them) and he completed MS in the USA and I know each and every one of his classmates and what they go through. And I know few gave up on the USA and moved to Europe. It’s easy to check LinkedIn salaries, and I don’t have to make guess when I have examples in my family and I personally know his circle of friends.

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