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Politics

Chinese granted 45% fewer US visas under Trump

Increased scrutiny amid trade war hampers students and employees

Chinese nationals must obtain a visa to enter the U.S., even for short trips.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- The number of U.S. visas issued for Chinese citizens has plunged by 45% under President Donald Trump's administration, as Washington toughens screening procedures in a bid to protect American employment and technology.

The U.S. granted 1.24 million visas to Chinese individuals during the fiscal year ended in September. China was no longer the top recipient country for the first time in six years, slipping below Mexico.

The issuance of B visas, which Chinese nationals are required to obtain even for short business or sightseeing trips, has decreased by 50% since the year ended September 2016 amid the growing trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

F-1 visas for students fell 30%, partly because Chinese students receive the status for longer periods. But the decline also results from increased scrutiny over concern that some of these individuals might leak American technologies.

The U.S. issued 8.68 million visas overall last fiscal year -- down 16% from the year ended September 2016, before Trump took office.

But concerns are growing that the trend will harm the multiculturalism that defines American society and the country's economy. Educational institutions are raising alarms.

"In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole," L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a letter to the university.

Businesses have been impacted as well. The approval rate for the L visa, often used by foreign nationals transferring to a U.S. office of the same company, has shrunk to 72% from 85% during Trump's term. Many applicants receive requests for additional information regarding their employment.

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