The List: Where Do Foreign Students Studying in New Jersey Call Home?

Colleen O'Dea | October 2, 2017 | The List
From Brazil to Vietnam, China to Turkey, some 26,000 men and women were in the Garden State on active student visas last year

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Many have complained about the possible effects of the Trump administration’s latest travel ban and announced end of protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children by their parents, but so far there has been no efforts to curb the issuance of student visas.

Still, there are some who say the new policies and attitudes toward immigrants in effect since the beginning of this year are deterring some students from considering a study abroad option in the United States. In it unclear whether those from the “banned” countries — mostly Muslim majority countries like Iran, Syria, and Yemen — will be allowed in; students from those places were exempt from the last ban. But school officials fear those from other places might choose not to come here because of the less-than-welcoming attitude of the new administration toward foreigners or if they cannot stay to spend at least some time working here after their studies are finished.

Nationally, close to 1.2 million people were in the United States on active student visas as of last May, according to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Students can study here by being accepted at a school approved by the SEVP, applying for a visa, paying fees, and being approved following an interview.

As of last May, 25,861 people were in New Jersey on active student visas, according to SEVIS. The state has 525 approved schools, ranging from specialty flight or arts schools to religious schools to public and private high schools to county colleges to Princeton University. A little more than half of those students, or close to 14,000, were pursuing an education in high-demand STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — fields. Males made up about 58 percent of all students, and two-thirds of STEM students.

The greatest share of students – 5,436, or slightly more than a third – were pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a New Jersey college or university. Doctoral students made up the second-greatest share, more than two in 10. Another 14.2 percent, or 2,243 people, were here for language studies.

Students came to study in New Jersey from 170 different countries, including 398 from six of the eight on the revised travel ban list – Iran ranked 14th among countries sending the students to New Jersey, with a total of 190 studying in the state.

These are the countries that had the most students in New Jersey on active student visas as of last May:

1. China – 9,502

Chinese students made up more than a third of all foreign students studying in New Jersey. Those in New Jersey made up 2.6 percent of the total 362,370 Chinese students in the United States.

2. India – 6,143

Those from India were almost a quarter of all New Jersey’s students. Some 3 percent of all Indians studying in the United States did so in New Jersey.

3. South Korea – 1,651

South Korean students made up 6.4 percent of all foreign students in New Jersey. About 2.3 percent of all South Koreans studying in the country were here.

4. Brazil — 810

One of only three countries outside of Asia sending large numbers of students to New Jersey to study, Brazil natives made up about 3 percent of all foreign students in New Jersey. Some 3.7 percent of Brazilians studying in the U.S. did so here.

5. Canada – 504

With a driving time of less than five hours away from border to border, Canadian students made up almost 2 percent of all foreigners in New Jersey schools. The state was home to 1.7 percent of all those holding student visas from Canada.

6. Turkey – 480

Of the 10 countries sending the most students to New Jersey, Turkey sent the greatest proportion of its US visa holders here – 4 percent. Turkish students made up almost 2 percent of all foreign students in New Jersey.

7. Saudi Arabia – 458

Some 1.8 percent of all students from outside the country studying in New Jersey were from Saudi Arabia. Fewer than 1 percent of all Saudi Arabian students in the U.S. were at New Jersey schools.

8. Colombia – 337

A large proportion of Hispanics living in New Jersey hail from Colombia, and 1.3 percent of all those holding student visas in New Jersey were from there. About 3.2 percent of all Colombians studying in the U.S. did so in the state.

9. Vietnam – 336

Students from Vietnam made up 1.3 percent of all foreigners studying in New Jersey. Just over 1 in 100 students from Vietnam went to school here.

10. Taiwan – 316

Taiwanese student-visa holders made up 1.2 percent of all New Jersey’s foreign students. Some 1.4 percent of those from Taiwan chose to study in New Jersey.

In all, nearly eight in 10 people holding student visas at New Jersey schools as of last May hailed from Asia.