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There was a 17% drop in international students in the U.S. last year, mostly due to the 28% decline in Indian students and a 24% decline in Chinese students receiving visas.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of State; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: The trend is at least partially attributed to President Trump's immigration policy changes and rhetoric, which have led to fewer foreign students applying to study at U.S. institutions. Foreign students contributed $36.9 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the NAFSA Association of International Educators.

"Many people attribute this decline to perceptions (and the realities) created by changes in US immigration policies as well as the rhetoric around immigration and some acts of violence targeting foreigners that were widely reported on around the world during the past year and a half."
— Jeff Lande of the Lande Group, which represents India-based IT companies

But other factors came before Trump:

  • Chinese students were given an extension for their F-1 student visas, making them valid for five years instead of one. This was announced at the end of 2014, which correlates with the beginning of the decline in Chinese student visas, according to the data. China has received the most student visas from the U.S. over the past several years.

Yes, but: China aside, there was still an overall 13% decrease in F-1 visas.

  • STEM students: President Barack Obama also extended the amount of time foreign STEM students could remain in the U.S. to work through the OPT program.
  • Competition: Other counties like China, Canada, New Zealand and France have begun actively recruiting foreign students, Rachel Banks, Director of Public Policy at NAFSA, told Axios. “These efforts show that the United States is not the only contender for the highest-quality education anymore, and as we’ve seen this year, students will choose other countries.”

What to watch: The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have reported that the White House is considering limiting China's access to high-level research in the U.S. out of fear of espionage. The details are not known, but could impact the F-1 student visa.

Go deeper

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

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