SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Foreign students who want to enroll at U.S. colleges and universities must obtain an F-1 Visa from the federal government, something that has become more difficult to do in recent years, according to a study done by Shorelight, a company that offers support to foreign students.

The report, released late last month, describes a sharp rise in the number of international students being denied F-1 Visas.

It says between 2015 and 2022, the number of students from South America denied visas more than doubled.

The study also found that Southern Africa, as a region, saw a 16 percent refusal rate while Western African students from countries, such as Nigeria, were denied 71 percent of the time.

Students from South Asia and the Middle East are also being awarded fewer F-1 Visas than in previous years, according to the Shorelight study, which also points out that international students contributed $33.8 billion to the U.S. economy and supported 335,423 jobs during the 2021-2022 academic year.

“This report makes it abundantly clear that the high rate of visa denials in Africa and the Global South is contributing to a loss of share of international students to global competitors,” said Shelley Landry, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Shorelight. “As demand for studying abroad grows worldwide, especially in these regions, the US must improve its visa policies to attract talented international students and enrich our classrooms, communities, and the economy.”