In a recent announcement, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared that COVID-19 no longer constitutes an “international public health emergency” and that the global COVID-19 pandemic has largely come to an end after more than three years. This means that international travel, study abroad, and other activities will fully resume.
“With immense hope, I announce that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency,” Tedros stated at a press conference on May 5th.
This day marks three years since the WHO declared a highest-level alert on COVID-19, known as PHEIC, on January 30th, 2020.
In January 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a “public health emergency of international concern.”
When the WHO declared the pandemic a global crisis on January 30th, 2020, it was not yet named “COVID-19.”
Over three years later, as of May 3rd, WHO data showed a total of over 760 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6.92 million deaths reported worldwide. Approximately 5 billion people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Since January 30th, the World Health Organization has held meetings every three months to assess the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, there have been fifteen such meetings.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that COVID-19 has been on a downward trend for over a year and that most countries have recovered their vitality before the pandemic.
With the lifting of the global health emergency on COVID-19, the pandemic that lasted for three years has officially come to an end.
Resumption of Study Abroad Trend to the US!
Chinese Students See Significant Increase in US F1 Visa Applications
In the first quarter of 2023, the number of Chinese students obtaining F1 student visas to study in the US has increased significantly compared to previous years, reaching 5,413, a figure that exceeds pre-pandemic levels.
After experiencing a low point due to the pandemic, the number of Chinese students studying in the US has returned to its peak.
According to the US State Department’s report on visa issuance at overseas missions, a total of 5,413 mainland Chinese students were granted F1 student visas to study in the US in the first quarter of 2023. Of these, 2,356 were issued in January, 1,282 in February, and 1,775 in March. (The latest data is as of March.)
Although the first quarter is not a peak season for student visas, as only students starting school in the spring or summer typically apply for visas during this period, a comparison with previous years’ data shows that the number of Chinese students receiving visas for studying in the US has returned to normal levels in the first quarter of this year, even exceeding the same period in 2018 and 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic. (In the first quarter of 2019 and 2018, there were a total of 5106 and 5378 Chinese students, respectively, who received US F-1 student visas.)
As the peak season for applying for student visas to study in the US approaches in the coming months, we await to see if the number of Chinese students studying in the US will continue to rebound to its peak.
In early 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of US visa services at its embassy and consulates in China until May 2021. As a result, most of the Chinese students who were supposed to start their studies in the US in the fall of 2020 were unable to obtain visas and could only take online courses in China.
Although the US resumed visa services in May 2021, the number of Chinese students going to the US for studies did not see a surge in 2021 or 2022, as many students opted to study in other countries or even gave up studying abroad altogether.
The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on studying abroad, leading many to question whether studying in the US would ever recover. However, the latest data on student visas in Q1 2023 shows a strong rebound in the number of Chinese students going to the US for studies. It seems that the speculation that studying in the US has lost its appeal may no longer hold.
It is important to highlight the fact that the number of visas to study abroad trends,there is a certain time lag.Because from the decision to go abroad, students need to go through the examination, application and other processes, to get a visa to travel at least a year, as many as three years.
It can be judged, after the initial period of the epidemic,in fact, many people have chosen to go abroad again a year ago or even earlier.This is why the number of F1 visas for Chinese students studying in the United States increased significantly in the first quarter of this year.
Apart from the F1 student visa, however, thenumber of approvals for other types of visas to the United States has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Take the most popular and most applied B1 / B2 tourist business visa as an example –
In January, February and March of this year, a total of 13,212 people, 18,137 people and 39,409 people were granted B1 / B2 visas respectively, although there was a monthly increase, but it was far from the pre-epidemic level.
In January, February and March 2019, 92,942, 53,002 and 98,682 Chinese were granted B1 / B2 visas respectively. Tourism market warming, it seems to take time.
2023 US Study Policy and Trends: International Students Surging by 63%!
The Common App published the latest application data for the 2022-2023 application season as of November 1 last year.
As many as 748,118 new students applied to the United States, and 2,853,554 university applications were received from the pre-pandemic period,up 26.3% and 40.6% respectively. The number of university applications per person continued to increase, reaching 3.8, up 11.8% from pre-pandemic.
The number of students submitting early applications in the 2022-2023 application season, both American and international students, has increased. 661,815 American students submitted early applications, up 20% from the 2019-20 application season. As many as 65,232 international students submitted early applications, up 63% from the 2019-20 application season.
The top five countries of origin for international students areChina, India, Nigeria, Ghana and Canada.
More and more applicants began to seize the “early application,” the future competition will be more intense.
The total number of overseas students reached more than 940 thousand
The total number of students studying in the United States rebounded to more than 940 thousand, an increase of 34,424 from the previous year and the fastest growth in years, according to the Gateway Report.
University Resumes Standardized Scores Admissions Policy
As the epidemic gradually stabilized, many American universities began to slowly restore the standardized scores of SAT / ACT admissions policies.
In addition to Purdue University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, the University of Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia have also continued to restart the mandatory submission of standardized test scores.
Bryn Mawr College, a liberal arts college, also requires international applicants to submit standardized scores to help them judge the academic standards of international students.
The total number of applicants of American Research International exceeds 850 thousand
From fall 2020 to fall 2021, the total number of international graduate applications received by U.S. degree-granting institutions participating in the CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey increased by 12%.
Among them, 434,094 international applicants for master’s degrees and 231,033 for doctoral degrees. This is also the third consecutive year that the number of international graduate applications has increased.
In 2020-21,US universities received a total of 852,006 international graduate applications, of which 35% were from China and 31% from India.
Visa services fully restored
U.S. visa services have been fully restored. Visa fees paid during the pandemic period are extended to September 30, 2023, and visa fees paid on and after December 17, 2021 are valid for one year from the date of purchase.
One of the visa exemption conditions for applying for a United States visa “no more than 12 months for the same visa category” is extended to “48 months”. In addition to the four branches required by Citic Bank, other passport collection and filing services begin to charge.
At the same time, theUnited States government relaxed visa, visa process shortened, some students can be visa-free.
Extended Student OPT Period
With the upgrade of OPT (Optional Practice Training), students in the United States will get a longer practical period and more internship opportunities.
For foreign students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, OPT will be extended from the current 12 to 29.
The extension of OPT means that these four categories of students will have longer and more opportunities to gain work experience in the United States. In addition to applying to foreign students who are currently studying in the United States or whose H1-B visa is pending at the end of their internship period, the OPT extension will also apply to foreign students who are currently studying in the United States but will receive these degrees in the future.
Therules also make some procedural changes to OPT applications, such as allowing students to submit their applications within 60 days, and require employers who hire students to participate in GAB’s E-Verify system.
The rule not only allows employers who participate in the electronic identity verification system to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers, but also further ensures the legalization of U.S. labor by extending the internship period for foreign students.
Enable WES Verification Score
American universities use WES (World Education System) to verify students’ scores. To apply for some US universities, students must first carry out WES certification (by setting up score verification, to effectively check the authenticity of students’ scores).
Public High School Open Enrollment for International Students
In the past, public high schools in the United States only recruited students with J-1 visas, but experts also pointed out that a new program for domestic sophomores studying abroad will provide a new way for Chinese students to stay in the United States.
Starting this fall,students from China will be able to enter one of the 11 public high schools in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Phoenix and Utah with F-1 visas.
In the past, students could only stay in America for one year with a J-1 visa, and even if they went to Senior 3, it was difficult for them to get a high school diploma. The newly launched F-1 visa program for public high schools in the United States is undoubtedly a major benefit for the majority of Chinese high school students who wish to study in the United States.
Currently, there are 11 American public schools that recruit Chinese students with F-1 visas to choose from, and students will be arranged in local host families, which will help them adapt to local life as soon as possible.
It is worth noting that the percentage of Asian students studying in these 11 schools is around 10%, there are still a certain number of places to offer, and these schools have already begun to recruit students this fall.
It is important to note that the I-20 form issued by the school is only valid for one year, so if the student chooses to attend grade 11, the student will transfer to a private school for grade 12 after that year; If the student chooses to attend the 12th grade, the student can enter the first year of college in the United States.
Proposed New H-1B Visa Regulations
According to the proposed new H-1B visa rules announced by the Department of Homeland Security.
The new visa program will adjust the order of the lottery, as long as the domestic or foreign university education and above, all included in the first round of 65,000 places in the lottery; In the first round did not win the lottery, but hold a master’s degree or above from a university in the United States, you can participate in the second round of 20,000 places.
The US GAB also clearly pointed out that this new scheme to change the order of the lottery will increase the probability of winning the lottery for those with a master’s degree or above from a US university by roughly 16%. However, the number of people holding a bachelor’s degree from an American university and a master’s degree or above from a foreign university will decrease.
In addition, DHS plans to improve the processing efficiency of applications for permanent residence registration or adjustment of status (I-485), reduce the likelihood of visa reversals, remove accumulated inventory, and deter visa fraud.
The SAT Reform
1, the written test into a computer test
2, the reading becomes shorter, each corresponding to a topic
3, the total length of 2 hours
4, the math section can use a calculator
5, the points will be faster
6. The international examination room in the spring of 2023 was first implemented
22 new three-year OPT for STEM subjects
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced January 21, 2022, the addition of 22 STEM (STEM) OPT programs to attract more international students in these fields to intern and work in the United States after graduation.
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training, which is a paid internship in the United States as a F1 student visa after graduation. It can be regarded as a transitional work visa for foreign students before they get their H-1b work visa.
All in all, the trend of studying in the United States in 2023 is good. With the gradual recovery of American society and the gradual relaxation of international travel,more and more international students will go to America to further their studies and explore the world.
While the global education landscape remains challenging, signs of recovery in the U.S. study market point to another golden age for U.S. higher education in the coming years, which is exciting news for international students and the U.S. education system.