US Visa Trends in Vietnam

Here’s an overview of F-1 visa issuances in Vietnam for the past 24 years in graph and numerical format. The gradual and then rapid growth in the number of student visas issued to young Vietnamese is a partial reflection of the expansion of Vietnam’s economy and family ability to pay. In the early days, many Vietnamese students studied overseas on various scholarships. (Note: The US government fiscal year begins on 1 October and ends on 30 September.)

FY1997: 1,153

FY1998: 1,193

FY1999: 886

FY2000: 930

FY2001: 1076

FY2002: 1523

FY2003: 1390

FY2004: 1827

You’ll notice that the take-off phase begins in 2005. Coincidentally, I relocated to Vietnam in early FY2006.

FY2005: 2404

FY2006: 3718

FY2007: 6152

FY2008: 9216

The dip in FY009 may have been due to the effects of the global financial crisis of 2007-08. The uptick resumed a year later and continued until FY2015

FY2009: 7633

FY2010: 8681

FY2011: 9456

FY2012: 10343

FY2013: 10867

FY2014: 14674

FY2015: 17674

The decrease from FY2015 to FY2016 of 11.28% could have been the result of a higher refusal rate. The upward trend continued a year later until the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic when the bottom fell out.

FY2016:  15680

FY2017:  17032

FY2018:  16061

FY2019: 16586

FY2020: 5716

FY2021: 6707

F-1 issuances for FY2022 are on track to surpass the previous year’s number. As of June 2022, the second month of the four-month student visa “high season,” both posts, Hanoi and HCMC, had issued 6,604 student visas. Below are the stats, obtained from the Monthly Nonimmigrant Visa Issuance Statistics website.

October 2021: 178 (HCMC); 60 (Hanoi)

November 2021: 388 (HCMC); 121 (Hanoi)

December 2021: 249 (HCMC); 231 (Hanoi

January 2022: 168 (HCMC); 87 (Hanoi)

February 2022: 87 (HCMC); 28 (Hanoi)

March 2022: 115 (HCMC); 47 (Hanoi

April 2022: 132 (HCMC); 98 (Hanoi)

May 2022: 362 (HCMC) 409 (Hanoi)

June 2022: 2432 (HCMC); 1412 (Hanoi)

The recovery is in full swing and is likely to continue in FY2023. As of May 2022, there were 23,809 Vietnamese students at all levels, mostly in higher education.

Here are worldwide F-1 stats from 2017-2021.

2017: 421,008 

2018: 389,579 

2019: 388,839 

2020:121,205 

2021: 377,659

Finally, here’s bar graph of the non-immigrant (B1/2 business and tourist) visas issued to Vietnamese from 2012 to 2021. You’ll notice the steady increase until the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

And here are the adjusted refusal rates from 2021-2006 in descending chronological order. The denial rate went from 40.9% in 2006 to 11.32% last year.

2021: 11.32%

2020: 18.78%

2019: 23.70%

2018: 26.2%

2017: 24.06%

2016: 29.49%

2015: 23.43%

2014: 14.3%

2013: 20.3%

2012: 22.2%

2011: 33.5%

2010: 36.1%

2009: 42.3%

2008: 38.8%

2007: 36.3%

2006: 40.9%

The worldwide refusal rates for B1/B2 and F-1 (student) visas in 2021 were 16.8% and 19.84%, respectively.

Visa Category Issued Refused Total Applications

B1/B2 814,957 164,616 979,573 (16.8% refusal rate)

F1 357,839 88,583 446,422 (19.84% refusal rate)

Vietnam is in good company in terms of B visa denials. I’m trying to get information about F-1 denials but suspect the rate is much higher, based on anecdotal evidence.

In case you’re interested, here’s an official (US State Department) definition of adjusted refusal rate: How is the Visa Waiver Program Adjusted Visa Refusal Rate Calculated? The Visa Waiver Program nonimmigrant visitor visa refusal rate is based on the worldwide number of applicants for visitor (B) visas who are nationals of that country. B visas are issued for short term business or pleasure travel to the United States. For information about qualifying for a B visa for business or tourism, please see the Visitor Visa page. The Department identifies multiple applications from a unique applicant and omits all but the last action from the calculation. Thus, an applicant is counted only once each year and is assigned the status in which he or she ended the year. For example, if an applicant who was refused in April re-applies and is issued in July, he or she will count only as an issuance. Similarly, if an applicant who was refused in April re-applies and is refused again in July, he or she will be counted as only one refusal. Rarely, an applicant may end the year in a third category, “overcome.” This happens when an officer has the information he needs to overcome a refusal but has not processed the case to completion. The adjusted refusal rate equals: [Refusals minus Overcomes] divided by [Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes]. Example: Determination of B Visa Adjusted Refusal Rate for Country X: Country X, worldwide, had 305,024 B visa applicants end the fiscal year in the “issuance” status; 20,548 end in “refused” status; and 88 end in “overcome” status. Refusals minus Overcomes = 20,548 – 88 = 20,460 Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes = 305,024 + 20,548 – 88 = 325,484 20,460 divided by 325,484 = 6.3 percent (Adjusted Refusal Rate).

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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