Ever since the President of United States of America (POTUS) Donald Trump issued an executive order imposing a 120-day suspension of the refugee program and a 90-day ban on travel to the United States of America (USA) from citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, which was later struck down by the courts, there has been considerable anxiety and confusion among people from various countries who want to travel to the USA. Even in India, both students and job-seekers are confused about their plans to go the USA. Data from the US Department of State indicates that student visas to Indian nationals decreased by more than 40% in the two year period between 2015 & 2017 while the total number of non-immigrant visas has increased marginally to cross 1 million in 2017.

More than half the Visas issued in India are B-1 & B-2

The following are some of the common visa categories in which visas are issued.

Business Visa (B-1): Consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference, settle an estate, negotiate a contract etc.
Tourism & Visit (B-2): Tourism, vacation (holiday), visit with friends or relatives, medical treatment, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests etc.
Temporary Work Visa (H-1B): To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent.
Dependent Visa (H-4): A dependent visa issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.
Student Visa (F-1): To enter the USA to attend university or college.
Intracompany Transfer (L): To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.

The above categories of visas accounted for more than 90% of the Non-Immigrant visas issued to Indian nationals between 2007 and 2017. More than 50% of the visas issued are in the B-1 & B-2 categories. H-1B accounted for 12.8% of all the visas while more than 9% of the visas were in the H-4 category. The student visas (F-1) accounted for 5.7%.

Non-Immigrant Visas to Indian Nationals increased by 4 times in 20 years

The total number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Indian nationals has increased by almost 4 times in the last 20 years, from 1997 to 2017. From 2.49 lakh non-immigrant visas in 1997, the numbercrossed 1 million in 2017. In fact, the number of visas has more than doubled between 2009 to 2017. Except for the decrease in 2002, 2005, 2008 & 2009, the number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Indian nationals has increased every year in the last 20 years. In fact, the number of nonimmigrant visas issued increased by over 70% between 2012 and 2015, during Barrack Obama’s second term as the POTUS.

Trump effect is real – Student Visas down 40% in 2017

The impact of Trump’s presidency is most evident in the number of student visas issued by the US.  The number of student visas (F1) to Indians decreased by more than 40% from 74831 in 2015 to 44741 in 2017. Even globally, the number student visas issued by US decreased by close to 40% between 2015 & 2017.

But this is not the only time that the student visas have decreased from India. In 2002, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the number of student visas decreased by over 15%. The year 2009 also saw a huge reduction in the number of student visas to Indian nationals. Thenumber of student visas in that year decreased by more than 25%. In fact, Barrack Obama’s first term as the POTUS coincided with the worst times for student visas from India. The number of student visas decreased from 36149 in 2008 to 23446 in 2012. Surprisingly, Obama’s second term was the best ever for Indian students. The number of student visas increased almost 3 times from 23446 in 2012 to 74831 in 2015.

Chennai US consulate issued the most Visas in the last 10 years

US Consulates in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata & Mumbai issue US Visas. The consulate in Hyderabad started issuing visas in 2009. In the period between 2007 and 2017, the Chennai consulate issued almost 1/3rd (22.81 lakh) of all the non-immigrant visas issued in India. The consulate in Mumbai issued 28.5% (19.91 lakh) of all the visas. The Delhi consulate issued 20.3%  (14.17 lakh) visas followed by Hyderabad consulate which issued 13.86% (9.68 lakh) visas. The consulate in Kolkata issued only 4.78% of all the non-immigrant visas issued between 2007 and 2017.