In a recently released study of student visa applications to the United States from various continents, results has shown that Africa has the highest rate of disproportionate student visa refusals to the US compared to other regions.
Findings indicate that 54% of African student visa applications were rejected in 2022, compared to only 21% from North America and 9% from Europe. South American applicants also experienced an increase in refusal rates, rising from 7% in 2015 to 31% in 2022.
Rajika Bhandari, a senior adviser at the Presidents’ Alliance, emphasized that these figures provide concrete evidence of disparate outcomes for students from certain countries, particularly African nations.
Possible factors for the refusals
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration produced a report that suggests that a combination of factors, including reduced student mobility and limited US consular staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic, may be contributing to this rise.
The report also raised concerns about the potential influence of national policies and negative public narratives towards international students and immigrants, which could be reflected in the visa refusal rates.
Bhandari remarked that the situation was a “missed opportunity” for the US as it prevents the country’s universities from benefiting from a diverse student population and restricts access to global talent.
Highest visa applications regardless.
Over the eight years analyzed, actual numbers show that more than 92,000 potentially qualified African students were denied visas. These numbers unequivocally suggest that a large percentage are from Nigeria.
Media reports indicate the alarming rate of US visa refusals to Nigerian students stating that the rate of US F1 visa denials reached a new high in 2022, with as many as two in three applicants denied.
It also stated that based on observations from an educational consultant, the main challenges faced by many individuals from Sub-Saharan Africa seeking to study abroad include difficulty articulating the reasons for choosing their preferred program, sponsorship by an extended family member, inadequate funds, being older than the typical age for undergraduate studies, unexplained gap years, and others.
Despite this, there was a strong demand from the continent, with the number of African students enrolling in US higher education increasing more than any other region in recent years.
Appeal to US Congress
Overall, the report suggests that students from the Global South (nations with relatively low levels of economic and industrial development, typically located to the south of more industrialized nations) may be subjected to different standards compared to other countries and calls for the US Congress to modernize the nation’s immigration laws.
Perhaps this will reduce the perceived disparity in visa approval standards.