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This big change has been primarily attributed to the increase in the number of interview counters by the consulate, which was deemed necessary in order to cope up with the growing pressure of visa applications, a good chunk of which consists of students.
The current inflow of applications makes the consulate's visa processing facility slightly bigger than what it actually requires, though Hyderabad issues more visas than any other US Consulate office in India.
But the availability of quick interview slots could also be an indication of a dip in interest among students opting for study in the US, as well as a possible decline in job visa applications, say consultancy firms that offer services to applicants seeking to go to the US to study.
This comes in complete contrast to a 25 per cent jump in the number of Indian students studying in the US last year.
With 165,918 students, India was the second leading country of origin among international students in the US last year, and this was the highest absolute increase of students ever, according to the annual Open Doors report released earlier this month by the Institute of International Education and the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
"It is an obvious fact that 90 per cent of those who go to the US to pursue higher studies would also hope to find employment over there. With Donald Trump's victory in the US Presidential elections, many of them were not sure if it was worth going there purely for the sake of studies. Many of the 2016 batch students are waiting for clarity on how things would pan out under Donald Trump," a founder of a visa and immigration services firm in the city said, on condition of anonymity.
A little over 100,000 Indian students are granted student visas by the US Government every year and close to a fourth of these students, mostly from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, get their visas from the US Consulate's Hyderabad office. Last year about 26,000 students were granted visas from here.
Among the other reasons, deportation of students by the US Homeland Security authorities in December, 2016 also made students little more cautious about their US plans this time around, according to the observers.
"In 2014-15 the US Government began somewhat liberally issuing student visas in India and this has encouraged even those who were looking for the university admissions in countries like Australia, UK and Canada to opt for the universities in the US. This year, there has been a rise in number of students going to Australia and Canada," Subhakar Alapati, director of the Hyderabad-based Visa consultancy firm Global Tree told Business Standard.
It was also believed that fewer students were able to clear the visa interviews during the fall season ending September, though the actual data will be put out by the US authorities only next year.
Meanwhile, some say that the ongoing demonetisation of high value currency notes would also impact the students' overseas study plans at least in the short term. Prem Kumar Gonu of US Medico Consultants said that education loans of many students were not being processed during the past few weeks as banks were busy with demonetisation-related activities.