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Report: One Million International Students, Most From Asia, Enrolled In U.S. Schools

Students walk across campus at the University of Vermont on Monday, April 30, 2012 in Burlington, Vt. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is compiling stories about student debt. Welch was at the University of Vermont on Monday where he met with students, some of whom are working multiple jobs and studying full time as they accumulate student loan debt. In Vermont, almost 70 percent of college graduates have an average of $30,000 in debt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Students walk across campus at the University of Vermont on Monday, April 30, 2012 in Burlington, Vt. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is compiling stories about student debt. Welch was at the University of Vermont on Monday where he met with students, some of whom are working multiple jobs and studying full time as they accumulate student loan debt. In Vermont, almost 70 percent of college graduates have an average of $30,000 in debt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)  (AP)

Slightly more than 1 million international students are attending some 9,000 U.S. schools on academic or vocational visas, according to federal data.

Three quarters of those students were from Asian nations. A third of them were from China.

The only Latino nations among the top 10 that sends students to the U.S. were Mexico and Brazil.

The degree program with the most foreign students is the bachelor’s, with 335,609, followed by the post-graduate, with 265,210.

The most popular majors were business, engineering and computer.

Students from India dominate in the popular STEM academic programs – they make up nearly 80 percent of those who study science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

The data looked at student enrollment as of April 1 and was released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In recent years, Congress has considered proposals to facilitate permanent U.S. visas for international students who graduate with a degree in a STEM field. They have cited a shortage of U.S. citizen workers who have the skills for those jobs.

Critics of such proposals argue that there is no shortage of Americans with STEM skills, and that employers are seeking cheaper labor.

A 2010 report by the Brookings Institute said that students from India and China would benefit most from any measure that would give them easier access to U.S. residency.

“Under the current visa system, citizens from these two countries face waiting times that exceed 10 years for a green card due to country caps backlogs,” the report said.

The institute also noted that the United States is “the global hub of higher education, attracting 21 percent of all students studying abroad.”

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