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Foreign students on F-1 student visas add billions to US economy
13/Feb/2015
A new report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) confirms that record numbers of overseas students now study in America at US universities. The total number of US student visa holders for the year 2013-2014 was 886,052.

Foreign Students Contribute $26.8 billion to the US economy

The record numbers of foreign students studying in the US have contributed $26.8 billion to the US economy, and have created or supported 340,000 jobs, according to data from the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA). Students spend money mainly on accommodation, student fees and living expenses.

The $26.8 billion spent by student visa holders in the US represents a 12 percent increase on last year. The data also shows an 8.5% increase in job support and creation. This means that for every seven international students enrolled in US universities, there are three US jobs created. The jobs created are in higher education, and also in the accommodation, retail, transport, dining and telecommunications sectors.

NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson said that foreign students studying in the US contribute far more than just money. She said "We cannot underestimate their immeasurable academic and cultural contributions to America's colleges, universities and local communities"

She added that international students also "bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework."

US has highest percentage share of foreign students in the World

The figures from NAFSA and IIE also show that the US still has the highest percentage share of foreign students. This is despite the US seeing a decrease in its share from 28% of international students in 2001 to about 19% in 2011. Because Worldwide there has been significant growth in students studying abroad even with a smaller percentage share of the market the US has still seen growth in student numbers.

Johnson argues that the US may see a further reduction in its market share of international students and overall student numbers if immigration reforms are not introduced.

Without Immigration Reform there may be a decline in foreign student numbers

She said "If Congress doesn't take action and pass commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform, we will lose talented international students. The billions of dollars they contribute to this nation, along with the invaluable academic and cultural contributions they bring, will be at risk."

Fortunately, Obama's immigration reforms via executive action may help the situation. With expansion of the optional practical training scheme for overseas graduates in the US many more students will be able to stay in the US.
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