- International student population, new student enrollment down significantly in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Students from India and China accounted for 74 percent of the international students population in the U.S., although both countries saw fewer students in 2020 than the previous year, according to an annual report released by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The report highlights calendar year 2020 data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a web-based system that includes information about international students, exchange visitors and their dependents while they are in the U.S.
Detailing the impact of the pandemic on the international students coming to the U.S. last year, the report notes that U.S. schools saw a 72 percent decrease in new international student enrollment in 2020 compared to previous year. There were 1.25 million active records in SEVIS for F-1 and M-1 students during calendar year 2020, a 17.86% decrease from calendar year 2019.
All continents saw an overall decline in the number of students coming to the U.S. in 2020. International F-1 and M-1 students came from every continent in the world other than Antarctica, and from more than 220 countries and territories.
The report includes both F international students (those pursuing academic degree programs) and M international students (those pursuing vocational degree programs).
While the January 2020 new international student enrollment at U.S. schools was on par with January 2019 enrollment, there was a “dramatic” decrease in new international student enrollment in both August and September, “traditionally months where the largest numbers of new international students enroll in U.S. schools.” In Aug. 2020, there was a 91percent decrease in new F-1 international student enrollment and a 72 percent decrease in new M-1 international student enrollment at U.S. schools, the report reveals.
The number of international students enrolled in K-12 programs of study also decreased – 24.6 percent from 2019 to 2020. “In 2019, more than three K-12 schools enrolled more than 700 international students, with one school hosting more than 1,000 international students,” the report said. “In comparison, in 2020, only one school hosted more than 700 international students.”
All four regions in the country saw a decline in international student records from 2019 to 2020, but the Northeast, “which was an early epicenter for COVID-19,” saw the greatest decrease at 19.4 percent. California continued to host more international students than any other state.
Four SEVP-certified schools each enrolled more than 15,000 international students: Northeastern University, New York University, Columbia University in the City of New York and the University of Southern California.
Similarly, there was a decrease in international students who obtained an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to participate in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.