Visa Delays Caused By COVID-19 Impact One-Third Of University Applicants
#Education | 19 Apr 2021

A recent QS whitepaper has revealed that a third of students looking to study abroad have been unable to commence their studies due to delays in visa processing.

The paper, entitled ‘What COVID-19 Means for International Students Interested in the US’, uses data from a QS coronavirus student survey, where 20,000 out of 74,000 respondents listed the US as their top study destination.

The survey asked a wide variety of questions related to how the coronavirus has affected international student’s study plans, such as when they expect to be able to start their studies – respondents were largely optimistic, with 61 percent aiming to start their studies in 2021.

Despite hope for change in the next year, it’s been a different story in 2020. 63 percent of respondents said that the coronavirus has affected their plans to study abroad, with only 13 percent saying that it hasn’t affected their plans. In addition, 55 percent are deferring or delaying entry until next year, 10 percent intend to study in a different country, and 6 percent no longer wish to study overseas.

However, one of the most interesting findings from the survey is the reasons why students have been prohibited from starting their studies in 2020. One might think that travel restrictions or fear of moving aboard during a pandemic would be the most pressing issue, but the most cited factor prohibiting starting study this year was delays to visa applications/processing (33 percent).

This was followed by government restrictions on leaving their home country (32 percent) and government restrictions on arriving in a new country (29 percent).

There are issues with a number of visa application centers, with premium or fast-tracked appointments not on offer, and with some centers actually closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is of course extremely frustrating for students, who often only have a short window of time in which to get their visa application sorted out once they’ve been accepted onto their course of study.

Some students headed for the UK have been facing problems with CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) being issued. CAS numbers, an electronic document proving that you have been accepted onto a course of study at a particular university, are essential for all international students coming to study in the UK to obtain their visas. Due to ongoing upheaval at universities in the UK, including a reduction in facilities and staff, CAS requests are taking too long to process, with some students not getting theirs in time to start the academic year.