Lamor Andrews/Nevada Sagebrush
The Northern Nevada International Center as it stands Feb. 5 on Center St. The Center has hosted thousands of international visitors for decades.

Last year, the State Department tightened regulations for visitors who sought to register for a visa. According to the Office of International Students and Scholars at the University of Nevada, Reno, this issue has added to the list of challenges that international students face when applying to school in the US.

“At UNR, we have had some students, more than usual, go through administrative processing for their visa applications which we attribute to the current administration’s tougher restrictions on granting visas,” said Adilia Ross, an International Advisor at OISS.

In a study conducted by the Institute of International Education, approximately 45 percent of the 500 campuses surveyed reported to had seen a drop in enrollment of new international students for the 2016-17 school year. The IIE reported that there was a 7 percent decrease of newly arriving international students. Furthermore, figures for the 2016-17 school year calculated a 3 percent drop, implying the decline occurred before the Trump presidency.

“I know that to get a visa to come to the US isn’t a walk in the park,” said Prince Nesta, an international student from Kenya studying for a masters in media innovation. “There are also some countries that have been put on visa bans and this might have affected some students. […] Students shouldn’t be afraid to come and better their lives if they get an opportunity.”

Despite this lack of new international students, there was an increase in international enrollment during the 2016-17 school year, according to the IIE. A record 1.08 million international students enrolled in U.S. colleges — an 85 percent increase compared to 10 years ago.

Although these numbers are at an all-time high, they were propelled by 175,000 graduates who remained in the US to complete an internship-type program, also referred to as “optional practical training.”

“The number of applicants to our university has not decreased but the number that actually attend after admission has decreased […],” said Ross. “Lack of funding such as scholarships and assistantships is the main reason for students not attending this university.”

The New York Times reported that international students contribute roughly $39 billion to the US economy. In an interview with the NYT, vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Central Missouri, Mike Godard said that the University of Central Missouri saw a decline in students coming from India partly because of a currency crisis in the country. Godard also believes that due to concerns about a travel ban, this affects Muslim students from studying in the US.

“[…] certainly feeling welcome and safe and all those things is important,” Godard said. “It would be naïve to say that wasn’t a contributing factor.”

Regardless of these concerns, the OISS says that they will continue to work closely with students and other departments on campus to help with visa applications or accommodate them if they cannot arrive for their admit term.

Karolina Rivas can be reached at mpurdue@sagebrush.unr and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.