U.S. welcomes Indian students in record numbers

Garima Shekhar standing in front of building, behind sign reading 'Harvard Business School' (Courtesy of Garima Shekhar)
Garima Shekhar, seen in 2022, is one of many students from India choosing to advance their education and careers at U.S. universities. (Courtesy of Garima Shekhar)

While studying at Harvard University, Garima Shekhar is building technology to help students in her home country of India choose careers and make the right decision for their higher education.

For Shekhar, from Mumbai, the decision on where to study led her to the United States. “In my opinion, [the United States] has the best universities in the world,” said Shekhar, who is earning a master’s degree in education. “I’m very grateful” for the opportunity to study here, she added.

Shekhar is one of the many thousands of Indian students choosing to study in the United States. In 2022, the U.S. government issued nearly 125,000 visas to students from India, a record. It means more students from India will be studying in the United States than from any other country.

It also continues a trend of rising enrollments after the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the 2021–2022 academic year, 199,182 students from India studied in the United States, a nearly 20% increase over the previous year, according to the Open Doors 2022 Report on International Educational Exchange, issued by the Institute of International Education and the State Department in November 2022.

Indian students make important contributions “to both our countries,” U.S. Embassy New Delhi Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina said in September. “They build lifelong connections with American peers to maintain and grow international partnerships, working collectively to address current and future global challenges.”

The U.S. Department of State provides information on educational opportunities in the United States through EducationUSA, a network of over 430 advisory centers for international students in more than 175 countries and territories.

Students from India enjoy classes in English, also widely spoken in India, and arrive in a country that is home to an Indian diaspora of 4.5 million. Several Indian students say they chose the United States for its diverse student populations and world-renowned universities. Sixteen of the world’s top 25 universities are in the United States, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023.

Pranavi Byri in traditional Indian attire standing in front of a display on India in large room (Courtesy of Pranavi Byri)
Pranavi Byri, in traditional attire, presents an exhibit on Indian culture at Northern Virginia Community College. (Courtesy of Pranavi Byri)

Some Indian students have continued their careers in the United States, including several who now lead major U.S. tech firms. Others return home with new skills and ideas.

Pranavi Byri, from Telangana state and an undergraduate student in early childhood education at Northern Virginia Community College, says U.S. colleges offer a more hands-on, less theoretical approach. The real-world examples her professors share in class will prove useful in opening her own child care centers when she returns to India.

Shekhar also expects her work at Harvard will benefit other students when she returns home. “I feel that I can contribute significantly to improving the Indian education system,” she said.