International students struggle to acquire visas


Phuong Anh Do

Marshall University’s INTO program has seen a decline of about 50 students since fall 2018.

Language barriers, culture shock, homesickness and financial issues are some of the difficulties that international students have to face when they study abroad, but there is another issue that international students may face before other difficulties can occur: getting a visa to the U.S.

 For many overseas students, getting a U.S. visa can be more difficult than getting accepted into one school or university.

Sarah Davis, assistant director of enrollment services at INTO Marshall, said the number of students that are admitted to Marshall University is the same or higher compared to previous years, but the students do have trouble getting a visa. 

“You cannot say for sure it’s all because the political climate, but sure it is,” Davis said. “Students are admitting to Marshall, they want to come to Marshall from all around the world, and they go for their visa interview and they get denied. Compared to last Fall with about 200 students, this Fall 2019 semester, INTO Marshall has about 150 students. We did see a decline.” 

Unexpected denials and a long delay process have become more and more common for overseas students and scholars seeking visas. 

Trang Nguyen, a graduate student from Vietnam, said she was denied a visa twice before she could finally get it and had a chance to study at Marshall. 

“I was so disappointed and thought I could never have a chance to study in the U.S.,” Nguyen said. “At the third interview, I told them I just simply want to study in the U.S., why can’t I have that chance?” 

That is just one of the cases where an international student was rejected a visa.

One of the most common reasons students get rejected is when the student does not have strong enough ties to his or her home country to show that they will come back after graduating. 

One factor that can possibly affect the overall enrollment of international students is the 2017 travel ban that President Donald Trump placed on mostly Muslim-majority nations that led to a drop in the number of foreign students coming to the U.S. in recent years. 

“There was one student from Syria that studied at Marshall University, he couldn’t really go home because he was afraid that he couldn’t get back to study. In addition, we don’t really get a lot of students from that list,” Davis said. 

Fareed Tariq Butt, a graduate student from Pakistan, said it was getting more difficult for students from Pakistan to obtain a U.S. visa, and some of them had visas for four months only and they had to go back to Pakistan to extend visas. 

“A lot of students do not get an admission to University in Pakistan because they wait for their visa process and when they get rejections from the U.S. embassy, they waste one semester for nothing,” Butt said. 

Phuong Anh Do can be contacted at [email protected]