Visa applications for the 2019-2020 academic year have reached record levels, with a record-high 2.1 million applications received by institutions across the United States.
The surge came on the heels of a record 1.4 million applications last year.
The average duration of the visa application process was just under two years, up from just over one year in 2015.
A new set of visa guidelines released last week by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) make it easier for institutions to accept applications for 2019-20.
The Department of Labor (DOL) is also proposing to require all institutions that receive a visa application to hold a biometric-based card in order to expedite processing and submit applications.
The surge of applications was fueled by a new set in place that allows institutions to use a biometrics-based identity document, such as a driver’s license or passport, for all visa applications, according to DHS.
DOL and DHS also announced last week that the Department’s biometric immigration database would be upgraded to include a new fingerprint and iris scanning system.
According to the DHS, the biometric system will include the ability to electronically check an individual’s fingerprints or iris scans on a daily basis.
The biometric fingerprint and biometric iris system will also be used for non-immigrant visas, and visa applicants will be required to provide biometric information when applying for admission to the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The new biometric systems will also expand the capacity of the existing biometric biometric verification system for other immigration-related visa applications.
The new biometers will be able to electronically scan fingerprints and irises for the purposes of visa applications from a variety of jurisdictions, including: the United Nations, the European Union, and the U.S. Department of State.
Applicants will be limited to the biometriometric system, and any other system that can produce a digital image, such the photo or video of a person, or the fingerprint of an individual, will not be permitted.
Under the new biometer system, all visa applicants who do not have a valid biometric document will be eligible for a biographic-based visa.
In addition, all applicants who apply through an institution that does not have an existing biometrically-based system will be permitted to apply through the new system.
Applicants who are not a citizen of the United State, have been a U.K. national for at least three years, have lived in the United Republic of Ireland, or have a permanent resident visa or nonimmigrant visa with a U .
Embassy or Consulate will be considered nonimmigrant visas.