Oct 23, 2019 07:07 PM

‘No Quotas,’ U.S. Embassy Officials Tell Chinese Students — but You Could Wait Indefinitely

Chinese students seeking to study science and technology in the U.S. have been told to submit their visa applications at least 120 days before their course starts, as American embassy officials sought to reassure Chinese students they were not subject to visa quotas.

Speaking at an education event in Beijing on Sunday, U.S. Embassy in China staff denied such quotas were in place, and said there had been no change to their policy, but reiterated those applying for study in science and related fields were subject to an “administrative review of indefinite length.”

“There are NO limits to the number of Chinese students who receive visas. Every qualified Chinese student visa applicant can receive a visa,” read one slide of an official presentation given by two embassy officers at the China Education Expo on Sunday.

The presentation followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to tackle Chinese students’ visa woes during a meeting with a Chinese trade delegation, led by Vice Premier Liu He, in Washington on Oct. 11.


“China is not going to be treated any differently,” Trump said. “I can give them [Chinese students] my word. I want them coming here.”

The effort appeared timed to allay growing fears about Chinese students’ difficulties in obtaining visas to study in America.

The Trump administration has tightened administrative reviews of students studying in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — in response to claims of intellectual property theft. In May last year, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. State Department was planning to shorten the validity length of student visas for Chinese students studying a masters or doctorate in robotics, aviation and high-end manufacturing, a move that was met with ire from China’s foreign ministry.

In March, Caixin reported that a number of Chinese students who had not been able to return to the U.S. after the winter vacation had been organizing on WeChat to raise awareness of the new “administrative processing” delays.

In early June, China’s Education Ministry issued a warning in a statement that some students seeking to study in the U.S. had encountered problems with visa length and an increase in visa denials.

Speaking after the education event in Beijing, one of the U.S. Embassy officials said the issue of visa difficulties had been “overstated,” and that their student visa policy had not changed.

The U.S. issued 89,179 student visas to Chinese applicants between April and August, up 5,869 from the same period last year, according to data released by the U.S. Embassy during the presentation.

In the 2017-18 academic year, 46% of Chinese students studying in the U.S. majored in STEM courses, according to a 2018 Open Doors report released by the Institute for International Education (IIE).

In 2018, the number of Chinese students studying at all levels in the U.S. increased 3.6% year-on-year, the slowest growth after it peaked in 2009 at 29.9%, according to the IIE report.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (

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