As the end of April approaches, I thought I’d check on the number of US student visas issued since the beginning of the 2021 fiscal year and compare it with last year in the (mostly) pre-COVID era. Yes, I know this is the low season for F-1 issuances, the high season lasting from May through August, but I am comparing apples with apples, so it’s a valid exercise.
Below are the figures from October to March in descending chronological order.
That’s a YOY decrease of 67%, mainly the result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. For obvious reasons, the months that jump off the screen are December and January.
In 2021, another issue has been rearing its ugly head, anti-Asian racism in word and deed, not to mention a jump in the number of mass shootings, both of which reinforce the USA’s well-earned reputation for unsafety.
US educational institutions that recruit Asian students, including Vietnamese, need to reassure potential students and their parents that they are safe in their academic and local community using specific examples, e.g., measures and programs. Just saying “it’s safe here” or “you’re welcome here” is not enough.
While Vietnamese students travel to the US with some expectation of anti-Asian sentiment, a fact that saddens me but is realistic, physical assaults elevate this racism and xenophobia to another level.
The reality is that some places are better than others, meaning more tolerant and therefore safer. As with institutions’ success in containing COVID-19, this is a “selling point” for secondary and postsecondary institutions located in those areas. It demonstrates their leadership and concern about the safety and well-being of every member of their academic community.
For your information:
Swelling Anti-Asian Violence: Who Is Being Attacked Where (3 April 2021, NYT)
Mapping Hate Crimes in the US (This map is maintained by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center under the Institute of American Cultures.)
Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (California State University, San Bernardino)
Gun Violence Archive (The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organization.)
Hate Groups Across the U.S. (Southern Poverty Law Center)
On the Bright Side…
The goal of the US Mission in Viet Nam, including the Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate in HCMC, is to provide interview appointments for every student who wishes to apply for a visa. The current wait times for student (M & F) and exchange visitor (J) visas in Hanoi and HCMC are three (3) and 25 calendar days.
Let’s hope for the best as we enter the F-1 high season!
Shalom (שלום), MAA