The U.S. stopped issuing F1 visas in 2021, and it will be difficult for Chinese to fulfill their dreams of studying abroad

The U.S. has largely stopped issuing Chinese student visas since the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party virus.

The U.S. has largely stopped issuing Chinese student visas since the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party virus. Now that the epidemic has not subsided, Chinese students hoping to obtain F1 visas this fall are still having difficulty.

In March, an organization called NAFSA launched a petition calling attention to the “Chinese F1 student visa crisis for the 2021-2022 academic year,” according to PIE News.

According to the petition, the U.S. F1 visa service for China has been closed for more than 13 months since February 2020, leaving a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases. Even if U.S. universities decide to fully resume face-to-face campus classes this fall, most Chinese students will not be able to obtain visas to the U.S. in a timely manner.

The U.S. consulates in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang do not offer F1 visa interview appointments, and the earliest date for the only Guangzhou consulate that does is Aug. 12, said Chen Hang, vice president of NAFSA’s China MIG.

He also said that sometimes interviews are available, but most are cancelled again.

In response, a statement on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate website in Beijing said that only urgent and critical visa services are currently being processed as resources and local conditions allow. “It remains impossible to restore regular immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at this time. We will resume regular visa services as soon as possible, but are unable to provide a specific date.”

According to Open Doors data, there were 372,532 Chinese students in the U.S. from 2019 to 2020; while only 43 Chinese were granted F1 visas from February to December 2020.

In addition, NetEase reports that 100,000 Chinese students to the U.S. are currently trapped in the country because of their visas, and with those in the country on valid F1 student visas (who have been returning home since the outbreak), it is conservatively estimated that at least 200,000 Chinese students attending U.S. universities are currently trapped in China.

In response, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said, “An embassy or consulate will resume adjudicating all routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases only if it has sufficient resources and is safe to do so.”

State Department information indicates that the order of nonimmigrant visa processing is for travelers with urgent needs, foreign diplomats, mission-critical categories (e.g., travelers assisting the U.S. with the COVID 19 pandemic), students and temporary work visas. According to the report, Chinese students should frequently check the U.S. Consulate’s website for relevant information.

In addition, the ability of Chinese students to travel to the U.S. in 2021 will depend largely on how well the U.S. outbreak is controlled. Almost all U.S. universities are taking online or predominantly online classes in the spring semester of 2021. If the outbreak is not effectively controlled in the first half of the year, it is feared that online classes will continue to be maintained in the second half of the year.

Many universities are expected to resume face-to-face classes this fall as vaccinations begin across the U.S. In early March, California State University announced that it will resume offline classes in the fall.

In fact, in addition to the epidemic, the U.S. government began to tighten its scrutiny of Chinese students last year as U.S.-China relations continued to deteriorate, which is a major reason why it is difficult for Chinese students to come to the United States.

In June 2020, the U.S. government ordered that visiting Chinese scholars and international students pursuing graduate studies with a Communist Party military background be banned from entering the country, and in September, the U.S. government cancelled the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars.

Former President Trump publicly stated that some Chinese students were engaged in “espionage” in the United States.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that not all Chinese students are spies, but all are being monitored by the Chinese Communist Party.

The State Department’s 2020 visa issuance data shows that the U.S. issued only 808 F1 student visas to mainland China in the six months between April and September 2020, compared to 90,410 visas issued in the same period in 2019, a drop of more than 99 percent.

Not only has the number of F1 visas for international students decreased dramatically, but the situation for J1 visas for Chinese visiting scholars in 2020 is not so good either. 26,895 J1 visas were issued to mainland China from April to September 2019, down to 154, or less than 0.6 percent, for the same period in 2020.