Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report- Department of Homeland Security

DHS logoA colleague recently sent me this report with the above title.  (Thank you, K!)  Yeah, I know; it’s not most people’s idea of a good time but it is interesting to wonks like me who follow these trends in the field (and industry) of international education.  Information is power, right?  OK, if not power, then at least it has the potential to give you more insights and the ability to make more accurate predictions than a crystal ball.

Here’s an excerpt from the report about the purpose of providing this data, at least on an annual basis:  This report analyzes the overstay rates to provide a better understanding of those who overstay and remain in the United States beyond their period of admission with no evidence of an extension to their period of admission or adjustment to another immigration status.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined that there were 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY 2016, which represents the majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent, or 739,478 individuals. In other words, 98.53 percent of the in-scope nonimmigrant visitors departed the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission

There are two categories: total overstay rate and suspected overstay rate.  Think of the latter as the net version of the former.  As the report points out, its purpose is “to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status.”  In other words, these are the people who have simply disappeared, presumably to surface later with legal status.  Or not.  

At the end of FY 2016, there were 628,799 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate for this type of traveler is 1.25% of the expected departures.  When you consider that over 50 million foreigner visitors entered the US in FY16 and that 98.75% of them did indeed return home, that’s not too shabby.

The report is broken down into “nonimmigrants admitted to the United States for business or pleasure, i.e., B1 and B2 visas, and student and exchange visitors (F, M, and J visas).  The average suspected in-country overstay rate for FY 2016, excluding Canada, Mexico, and students, was 1.90%. 

sample visaFor Viet Nam it was 3.40%, or 79% higher than the national average.

Student and Exchange Visitor Visas (F, M, J) Excluding Canada and Mexico

Just to give you an idea of how Viet Nam compares to many other countries with students studying in the US, here is a list of some with much higher overstay rates in descending order.  Asian countries are in navy blue.

  1. Eritrea: 75.21% (117)
  2. Burkina Faso: 46.78% (699)
  3. Chad: 36.77% (68)
  4. Congo (Kinshasa): 36.56% (517)
  5. Djibouti: 33.33% (21)
  6. Libya: 31.85% (1,036)
  7. Congo (Brazzaville): 23.88% (201)
  8. Equatorial Guinea: 20.42% (284)
  9. Côte d’Ivoire: 17.09% (755)
  10. Ethiopia: 21.71% (1,110)
  11. Fiji: 15.84% (101)
  12. Gabon: 23.40% (406)
  13. The Gambia: 29.08% (196)
  14. Benin: 31.25% (400)
  15. Cameroon: 28.68% (889)
  16. North Korea: 27.27% (11)
  17. Togo: 26.14% (176)
  18. Guinea: 26.12% (157)
  19. Central African Republic: 25.93% (127)
  20. Moldova: 25.49% (2,299)
  21. Nepal: 23.50% (2,873)
  22. Nigeria: 22.74% (8,034)
  23. Bhutan: 22.42% (165)
  24. Burundi: 20.96% (167)
  25. Somalia: 20.00% (25)
  26. Cabo Verde: 18.40% (125)
  27. Mali: 17.19% (349)
  28. Iraq: 16.54% (1,300)
  29. Afghanistan: 15.83% (556)
  30. Kyrgyzstan: 14.41% (666)
  31. Malawi: 14.40% (250)
  32. Tajikistan: 13.37% (486)
  33. Liberia: 13.30% (218)
  34. Ukraine: 12.90% (826)
  35. Senegal: 12.59% (657)
  36. Guinea-Bissau: 12.50% (8)
  37. Serbia: 12.46% (4,800)
  38. Kenya: 12.28% (2,326)
  39. Niger: 12.07% (174)
  40. Papua New Guinea: 12.03% (158)
  41. Tonga: 11.29% (176)
  42. Bangladesh: 11.03% (3,237)
  43. Macedonia: 10.98% (1,658)
  44. Uganda: 10.65% (3,273)
  45. Syria: 10.35% (599)
  46. Sudan: 10.30% (304)
  47. Rwanda: 9.73% (997)
  48. Haiti: 9.67% (982)
  49. Uzbekistan: 9.48% (1,181)
  50. Mongolia: 9.44% (2,399)
  51. Zambia: 9.42% (414)
  52. Mauritania: 9.40% (117)
  53. Timor-Leste: 9.38% (32)
  54. Turkmenistan: 9.16% (371)
  55. Maldives: 8.11% (74)
  56. Sri Lanka: 8.74% (1,774)
  57. Burma (Myanmar):  8.59% (1,036)
  58. Namibia: 8.63% (139)
  59. Albania: 8.34% (779)
  60. Viet Nam: 8.15% (14,878)

Several points stand out. 

  1. While Viet Nam is at the lower end of the spectrum among these 60 countries in terms of percentage, it has one of the highest suspected in-country overstay rates in Asia.  In terms of numbers, 1,213 young Vietnamese were out-of-status last year.  Compare that to China, which ranks first in the number of students it sends to the US with 360,334 last year.  The suspected in-country overstay rate was only 2.09%.  The days of the brain drain are clearly over.  It’s obvious that quite a few young Vietnamese are using the F-1 (in most cases) as a backdoor means of emigration.  (This assertion is also based on anecdotal evidence.)
  2. Many of these countries have relatively few students in the US, i.e., fewer than 500.
  3. Many of the countries are war-torn and/or desperately poor, due to war and other factors.

Keep in mind that this percentage is higher in some parts of Viet Nam than others, i.e., those with people who have relatives in the US, mostly in the former Republic of Viet Nam (South Vietnam).  These data are reported to the US Mission, the Consulate in HCMC, in particular, and could have an impact on consular officers’ decisions for applicants coming from areas with a higher overstay rate.

Note:  Whenever I deal with statistics, I’m often reminded of the following quote, which was popularized by Mark Twain, who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Not included in the above statistics are international students who remain in the country legally, e.g., through marriage or a work (H1-B) visa.  Thus, neither country really knows how many young Vietnamese come home after completing their studies and/or an Optional Practical Training (OPT) work experience on a F-1 visa.  Another unknown variable is the number of graduates to move to a third country for study or work.    

MAA

 

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June 2016 Vietnam Strategic Recruitment Retreat

I’m pleased to announce that I will lead a Strategic Recruitment Retreat (SRR) in Phan Thiết, Vietnam from 17-19 June for colleagues whose institutions have targeted Vietnam as a high recruitment priority.  The purpose of the retreat is to give them the tools they need in terms of knowledge, insights and strategy in order to increase their chances of success in recruiting Vietnamese students in what has become a highly competitive market in recent years.  Colleagues can either come after the ICEF Thailand-Vietnam Agent Roadshow or attend on a stand-alone basis.  I’m delighted to welcome Study in the USA as an event sponsor. 

Follow this link for detailed information and online registration.

MAA


USA is Once Again the World’s Leading Host of Vietnamese Students; Ranks 6th Overall

Ranks 6th Among All Sending Countries

As I predicted earlier this year, Vietnam has surpassed Japan in total enrollment in the US, most of it in higher education.  It recorded an astounding 18.9% increase from July 2015, the third highest after India (20.7%) and China (19.4%), according to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update.

11-15 Places of Origin Asia

Incredibly, Vietnam now ranks 6th among all sending countries with 28,883 students studying at US institutions, mostly colleges and universities but also boarding and day schools, along with some other programs.  The US has surpassed Australia (PDF), which had 28,524 Vietnamese students at all levels as of October 2015, a 0.4% decrease over the previous year.  As you can see below, Vietnam is nipping at the heels of Canada, which was unimaginable five (5) years ago.

Top 10 Countries of Citizenship 11-15

What are some of the reasons for this continued impressive growth?

  • Robust economic growth, 6.5% through September 2015, which translates into growing ability to pay for one of the world’s most expensive higher education systems;
  • Proactive recruitment on the part of growing numbers of US colleges and universities, which means more choices for Vietnamese students and parents;
  • More institutions with an overall price tag – with or without scholarships – in the 20-30k range or less; and
  • The continued popularity of US higher education as an overseas study destination.

This is in spite of a high visa denial rate over the summer, especially in the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and growing concern about personal safety, the result of the recent spate of mass shootings.

Extrapolating from the estimate calculated by IIE based on information from Open Doors and the U.S. Department of Commerce, this means that the current contribution to the US economy by Vietnamese students is $919, 461,422. Since most students are self-financing, Vietnamese parents are spending nearly $1 billion on their children’s education in the US.  To put this in perspective Vietnam’s 2014 GDP was $186.2 billion, according to the World Bank.

MAA

Open Doors 2015: More Double-Digit Increases for Vietnam!

BT-Open-Doors-2015Yes, dear readers, it’s that time of year again – time for Open Doors 2015!  For the uninitiated – the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is an annual international academic mobility report published by the Institute of International Education with a grant from the US State Department.

Below is a list of top 10 sending countries in the 2014/15 academic year.  Keep in mind that this information is based on a survey distributed last fall (2014) semester, i.e., it’s already a year old. Vietnam (PDF download) had one of the higher year-over-year percentage increases among the top 25 places of origin at 12.9%.  In reality, there were 24,288 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels, nearly 90% in higher education, as of July 2015, according to the August 2015 SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update (PDF download).  Vietnam actually ranks 7th, having surpassed Taiwan, and is on the verge of overtaking Japan.

TOP 25 PLACES OF ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, 2013/14 – 2014/15
Rank Place of Origin 2013/14 2014/15 % of Total % Change
WORLD TOTAL 886,052 974,926 100.0 10.0
1 China 274,439 304,040 31.2 10.8
2 India 102,673 132,888 13.6 29.4
3 South Korea 68,047 63,710 6.5 -6.4
4 Saudi Arabia 53,919 59,945 6.1 11.2
5 Canada 28,304 27,240 2.8 -3.8
6 Brazil 13,286 23,675 2.4 78.2
7 Taiwan 21,266 20,993 2.2 -1.3
8 Japan 19,334 19,064 2.0 -1.4
9 Vietnam 16,579 18,722 1.9 12.9
10 Mexico 14,779 17,052 1.7 15.4

Fields of Study & Vietnam

2014-15 Places of Origin & Fields of Studyvietnam fields of study

Academic Level & Vietnam

As expected, there is a decrease in the percentage of Vietnamese students choosing business/management as their major, a positive development, in my opinion.

level and place of origin 2015vietnam level and place of origin

There are some notable changes in academic levels:

  • a 100% increase in the number of non-degree students, e.g., ESL, certificate programs
  • a 26% increase in the number of OPT students

Community Colleges & Vietnamese Students

TOP 25 PLACES OF ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AT ASSOCIATE’S INSTITUTIONS, 2014/15
Rank Place of Origin % of Enrollment
1 China 17.7
2 South Korea 8.9
3 Vietnam 8.4

Vietnam remains in 3rd place with 7,698 students enrolled in a community college, most with plans to complete their Bachelor’s degree at a four-year school.  (That’s 8.4% of the total international enrollment at US community colleges last year, which was 91,448.)  That translates into a one-year increase of 15.4%, from 6,509 to 7,698 students.

A note about Brazil’s short-lived ascendancy.  This 11.11.15 ICEF Monitor article details the impact of the current economic crisis in Brazil on overseas study.  Here are the highlights:

  • Brazil is in the grip of an economic crisis that has pressured consumer spending and weakened the Brazilian currency
  • This in turn has made it much more expensive for Brazilians to travel or study abroad
  • The expectation is that the market will decline this year but there are surprising and important areas of demand, particularly in the form of students who are committed to improving their skills for better employment prospects
  • Demand is also shifting to more affordable English-speaking destinations, notably Malta, South Africa, and Ireland

MAA

“Ten sure ways countries can turn away international students”

Here’s another one: #11 – High Visa Denial Rate + No Accountability = Many students choose a 2nd choice country, which represents a loss, including that of a financial nature, to the admitting institution and original host country.

How not to make them feel welcome. International students via Lucky Business/www.shutterstock.com
How not to make them feel welcome. International students via Lucky Business/www.shutterstock.com

The pursuit of global mobility in a world divided up into nations invokes a fundamental dilemma. Free passage without harassment is a right we routinely expect to exercise whenever we travel abroad. Yet the right of people within a country to determine who enters their nation is enshrined in law. This unresolvable tension between sovereignty and mobility catches international students in its grip.

More than 4.5m students cross borders (PDF download) every year for educational purposes, mostly entering English-speaking countries, Western Europe, China, Japan and Russia. The great majority of these students return home when their education ends, though some become skilled migrants to the country of education, or other countries. Nations compete for international students – every country wants high-quality research students and some make a profit from international undergraduate and masters-level students. In the UK, for example, Universities UK reported that international students spent £4.4 billion on fees and accommodation in 2011-12.

However, education policy is all too often in tension with migration policy. The United States (after September 11, 2001), Australia (in 2010-2011) and the United Kingdom (now) have all slowed down their student intake because of security concerns, or local opposition to migration. In each case numbers fell sharply and stayed down.

image-20151012-17809-1r58gmo

Follow this link to the read the rest of the article, including the “ten sure ways.”

MAA

 

Record # of Visas Issued to US-Bound VN Students in FY14

us visasIn fiscal year (FY) 2014, US Mission Vietnam, i.e., the Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, issued a record 14,822 student (F-1) visas to Vietnamese students, according to the US State Department’s annual report (204 KB PDF download). This is the largest ever one-year numerical increase for Vietnam while the percentage increase is the third highest ever (36.4%) after FY07-08 (49.8%) and FY05-06 (117.6%).

student visa graph

student visa stats

number 7Based on current enrollment trends, as reported in the February 2015 SEVIS by the Numbers update in which Vietnam ranks 7th among all places of origin with 25,982 students at all levels, surpassing Taiwan (23,503) and on the verge of displacing Japan (26,187), student visa issuances are on track to set yet another record in FY15.

MAA

US International Student “Market Share” Steadily Eroding

According to the 2014 Open Doors report, released by the Institute of International Education, there are 886,052 international students in the US, which makes it the world’s leading host.  (There are now a total of 1.13 million F & M students studying in the US, according to the 2/15 SEVIS quarterly update.  That includes all levels of education.)  That’s not surprising given the high level of interest in StudyUSA over the years and the sheer size of the US higher education system.

market shareA more useful way of looking at international enrollment trends, however, is to focus on market share.  That picture is not so rosy.  Of the more than 4.5 million students enrolled outside of their home countries in 2012, 75% were studying in developed countries and over half came from Asia, with China (22%), India and S. Korea taking the top three places.  As a 2014 global migration report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed, about 25% of all international students were in the US.  Ten years later, that figure dropped to 16% while all other English-speaking countries, including the UK (12.6%) and Spain increased their share of international students.

According to the OECD, the number of students studying overseas will nearly double by 2025 to 8 million.  Time will tell if and when the US is able to take advantage of this trend.

Why?

Here’s a partial list – in no particular order.  Feel free, dear reader, to add to it.

  1. Lack of a comprehensive official US international education policy
  2. State and Commerce are often at odds with each other even though they represent the same government
  3. A sense of resting on one’s laurels – the US built it and they came back in the day but it has been losing market share since 2000
  4. Counterproductive immigration policies, e g., international students can only work on campus, are limited in their post-graduate employment opportunities, both temporary (OPT) and permanent (H1B) and, while possible, the transition from student to green card holder to citizen is not an easy one nor it is officially sanctioned
  5. Regarding the previous points, other countries such as Australia and Canada are much more welcoming, hospitable and realistic vis-à-vis the need (e.g., the graying of their populations) for a certain percentage of international students in certain fields to stay, work and emigrate
  6. Post-9/11 dip

Another factor is cost.  A global report released by HSBC last year based on a survey of more than 4,500 parents in 15 countries, found that Australia is the most expensive place in the world to study, followed by Singapore and the US.

uni-cost-hsbc-chart
Source: HSBC

Interestingly, the US is currently the world’s leading of Vietnamese students, which says something about preferences and ability to pay.  The US recently “overtook” Australia in this friendly competition for Vietnamese and other international students.  Using Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) statistics for 2013, the latest year for which they’re available, there were 125,000 young Vietnamese studying overseas.  The percentage distribution was as follows:

1)  Australia (26,015):  20.8%
2)  United States (19,591):  15.7%
3) Japan (13,328):  10.7%
4) China (13,000): 10.4%
5)  Singapore (10,000):  8%

As you can see, the top five countries comprise nearly two-thirds of total overseas enrollment for Vietnamese students. The following countries rounded out the top ten:

6)  France (6,700)
7)  Taiwan (6,000)
8)  UK (5,118)
9)  Russia (5,000)
10)  Germany (4,600)

The bottom line, literally and figuratively, is that individual US institutions of higher education, sometimes working cooperatively (e.g., from the same region, a community college and a state university) have to map out their own strategies for different target markets, keeping in mind that one size doesn’t fit all.

MAA