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Questioning Equality: High Denial Rates of African Student Visas in US Ignite Racism Debate

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WASHINGTON D.C, USA – A new study has revealed that African students face the highest rate of visa denials for entry into the United States compared to their global counterparts.

In 2022, 54% of African student visa applications were rejected, significantly higher than the 21% and 9% rejection rates for North America and Europe, respectively.

The study, conducted by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, has ignited concerns about the disparate treatment of applicants from certain countries.

Rajika Bhandari, a senior adviser at the Alliance, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, warned that the United States might be missing out on the benefits of a diverse student population.

The Alliance’s report pointed to several potential factors contributing to the high refusal rate, including limited U.S. consular staff and reduced student mobility during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also highlighted the potential influence of national policies and public attitudes towards international students and immigrants.

“Our findings are concerning,” Bhandari said. “They provide concrete evidence of disparate outcomes for students from certain countries, particularly African nations. It’s a missed opportunity for our universities and limits access to global talent.”

Although the refusal rates are high, the demand from African students to study in the U.S. is strong.

Over the eight years analyzed, more than 92,000 African students who were potentially qualified were denied visas.

Notably, a significant percentage of these applications originated from Nigeria.

In 2022, two in three Nigerian applicants for the U.S. F1 visa were denied.

The common challenges for Sub-Saharan African students include difficulty articulating their program choice, extended family sponsorship, inadequate funds, being older than the typical undergraduate student age, unexplained gap years, among others.

Despite these hurdles, African students enrolling in U.S. higher education has increased more than any other region in recent years, underlining the persistent demand for American degrees.

The report concludes with a call to action for U.S. lawmakers, urging Congress to modernize the nation’s immigration laws.

It argues that students from the Global South may be subjected to different standards than other countries.

A change in legislation could help reduce this perceived disparity in visa approval standards.

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