The number of students studying in the U.S. on F1 student visas has exploded from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012, a nearly five-fold increase, according to the Brookings Institution.
F1 visas are granted to foreign students to study at higher-education facilities in the United States and are applied for through the United States Department of State.
The study discovered that these students mostly come from fast growing cities such as Seoul, Riyadh and Shanghai. These cities are not only already quite large, but they are also major players in emerging world markets.
The majority of foreign students in the United States tend to study the so-called STEM fields. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, fields that are in high demand in the United States and worldwide. Business degrees are also quite popular.
The study also showed that these foreign students tend to study in large metropolitan areas and then work to maintain their visas in those cities to work after they have graduated. Cities with large numbers of foreign students include:
- The New York area
- Los Angeles
- The Boston area
- San Francisco
- And the Washington D.C. area
The top countries of origin for F1 visa students are China, Saudi Arabia, India, Taiwan and Iran.
The F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which means that students are expected to return to their respective countries upon completion of their education. However, many of these students are able to find employers willing to pay for their formal immigration or other visas that allow them to stay in the U.S.