Chinese students make up the majority of international students in the United States. However, the number of Chinese students in U.S. universities has dropped from a high of 370,000 in 2019 to about 290,000 today.

Part of the drop has been attributed to the Trump Administration’s 2020 executive order suspending entry of certain students and researchers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). That proclamation applies to Chinese nationals in F or J status (other than undergraduates) who were associated with an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” The executive order started to chill among Chinese graduate students and researchers who feared discrimination or being denied entry at first or after travel abroad. Then, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made travel difficult.

Over the last four years, Chinese students – particularly those in STEM fields – have received extra scrutiny. In November 2023, President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping agreed to promote educational exchanges. Recently, though, a number of these students have been questioned by U.S. officials for hours, banned from entry, and even repatriated. Chinese students in the United States have gathered to discuss their concerns. The Chinese Embassy in the United States made “solemn representations” to the government about this treatment. The Department of State has responded that the detention and inadmissibility rate has been stable over the years and that fewer than 0.1 percent of Chinese students who arrive in the United States have been detained and found to be inadmissible.

 Not only is the number of Chinese students coming to the United States declining, but the number of American students in China is also declining. Before the pandemic, approximately 10,000 American students were in China, compared to fewer than 1,000 today.

International students overall provide 28 percent of tuition revenue to U.S. colleges and universities. Chinese students still make up the majority of international students in the United States. Interestingly, the decline in students from China has coincided with an increase in students from India.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with visa and travel advice for all international students.