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African students face highest visa refusal rates to US — Study

In 2022, 54% of African student visa applications were rejected, while only 21% from North America and 9% from Europe faced similar refusals.
Source: The Des Moines Register
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According to a recent study published in Times Higher Education, African students face the highest rate of student visa refusals to the United States compared to other regions.

In 2022, 54% of African student visa applications were rejected, while only 21% from North America and 9% from Europe faced similar refusals. There has also been a notable increase in refusal rates for South American applicants, rising from 7% in 2015 to 31% in 2022.

The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration produced a report suggesting that several factors may be contributing to this rise in visa refusals. These factors include reduced student mobility and limited US consular staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additionally, concerns were raised about the potential influence of national policies and negative public narratives towards international students and immigrants, which might be reflected in the visa refusal rates.

The study highlights the missed opportunity for US universities to benefit from a diverse student population and access global talent. Over the analyzed eight-year period, more than 92,000 potentially qualified African students were denied visas, with a significant percentage being from Nigeria.

Challenges faced by individuals from Sub-Saharan Africa seeking to study abroad were also mentioned in the report. These challenges include difficulty articulating reasons for choosing preferred programs, sponsorship issues, inadequate funds, being older than the typical age for undergraduate studies, unexplained gap years, among others.

Despite the high visa refusal rates, there is still a strong demand from Africa, with the number of African students enrolling in US higher education increasing more than any other region in recent years.

The report suggests that there might be different standards applied to students from the Global South compared to other countries. It calls on the US Congress to modernize the nation’s immigration laws to reduce the perceived disparity in visa approval standards.

The study underscores the importance of addressing these issues to foster greater inclusivity and access to educational opportunities for students from various regions.

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