SEVP Quarterly Report on International Students in the U.S.

Each quarter, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) releases a report that provides key data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) on the makeup of international students who choose to study in the United States. A look at these quarterly reports can be useful in identifying trends and changes within the nonimmigrant student community. The latest report compares data from November 2015 to November 2016.

Background on SEVP and SEVIS

SEVIS is a web-based system that is used to track and monitor the status and activities of F-1 and M-1 international students, as well as J-1 exchange visitors. It includes information on enrollment, graduation, program compliance, and program transfer of nonimmigrant students. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) monitors SEVP and its compliance.

SEVP uses SEVIS to track and monitor the status and activities of nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors who enter the United States.

Increase in Students and Exchange Visitors / Leading Countries

From November 2015 to November 2016, the number of F-1 and M-1 students rose from 1.19 million to 1.23 million, a 2.9 percent increase. In contrast, the number of J-1 exchange visitors decreased by 1.8 percent, from 201,800 to 198,217. The top three countries of citizenship of these international students are China, India, and South Korea. Students originating from Asian nations amount to 77 percent of all F and M.

Most Popular Student Destinations: California, Texas, and New York

Schools in “the big 3” – California, Texas, and New York – are home to 27 percent of all SEVP certified schools. As expected, this means that these three states have the largest number of foreign national students. California leads the way, with 211,262 students, and New York is second with 138,976. California’s international student population breaks down to 71,945 from China and 32,517 from India.

Leading Universities: NYU and USC

New York University leads the way with 15,819 active F-1 students. The University of Southern California is a close second with 13,750. Northeastern University, Arizona State, and Columbia round out the top five. Eighty-six percent of all SEVP certified schools are certified to enroll F-1 students. Five percent are certified to enroll M-1 students, and nine percent are certified to enroll both F-1 and M-1 students.

Top Majors / Fields of Study

Business is the most popular major among international students, followed by engineering. The third most popular major for international students is computer and information sciences.

International STEM Students

Enrollment in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) programs includes 42 percent of all international students. Of the STEM students in the United States, 87 percent are from Asia. There has been an eleven percent increase in the number of STEM students from Asia since November of 2015. There has also been a seven percent increase in STEM students from Africa for the same time period.


The U.S. provides an abundance of educational opportunities drawing bright and talented students from around the globe. The SEVP quarterly reports can help illuminate future trends in the United States, as many foreign students and exchange visitors seek to remain in, or return to this country following the completion of their respective educational or vocational programs. As worldwide demand continues to grow for highly educated workers, foreign students in the U.S. can help to provide an edge in securing the U.S. economy with the much-needed skilled workforce.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.