Written by Natalie Simpson, @byuiscroll

U.S. enrollment of foreign students in U.S. colleges is on the rise.

As of 2015, there are roughly 1.13 million foreign students in the U.S., and the majority of these students are in college-degree programs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This number represents a 14 percent foreign student enrollment increase from 2014 to 2015, an almost 50 percent increase from 2010 and an 85 percent increase from 2005, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I choose to come here, first of all, because I’m a member of the Church, and I’ve always wanted to be in BYU since it’s part of the Church,” said Julio De León, a freshman from Guatemala studying biochemistry.

De León said, education in Guatemala is good, but it is better recognized and respected in the United States.

De León said, a lot of people in Guatemala talk about coming to school in the U.S., but many are unable to do so because they do not know how to begin the process, and it is expensive.

“I had friends here, and I just called every one,” De León said. “I mean I called BYU services and international services, and I did a lot of calls, and that’s how I got everything done.”

Roughly 29 percent of all international students are from China, numbering 331,371 students, constituting the greatest amount of students from any one nation. Roughly 855,807 students come from Asian countries including China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

“I always wanted to study in Chile because I could have studied in best university in my country,” said Josè Abarca, a freshman from Chile studying computer information technology.  “Then the opportunity to come here came.”

Abarca said he knew a lot of mission presidents children and the children of seventies who were leaving Chile to come to school in America. He also had a friend that returned from BYU talk to him about his experience of going to school in the U.S.

“I really started considering the advantages of coming here,” Abarca said. “The prices of education in Chile are really expensive, and the quality can not be compared at all with education here. We only have one or maybe two universities in the top hundred colleges in the world, so it’s not really good.”

In order to enter the U.S., a citizen of a foreign nation must first obtain a visa.  An immigrant visa allows for permanent stay, while a nonimmigrant visa allows for temporary stay, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Both De León and Abarca are here in the U.S. on temporary stay student visas.

To apply for a student visa, students must first be accepted into an Student and Exchange Visitor Program- approved school, according to U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.

“It’s a long process,” De Leon said. “I don’t know if it’s like all natives, but we had to fill out the application form like normal in besmart.com as everyone does, but we also had to take an English test, which is called ‘TOEFL’ (Test of English as a Foreign Language).”

Accepted by over 9,000 colleges and universities in over 130 countries, the TOEFL test is the most widely recognized English-language test in the world, according to the ETS website est.org.

De León said applying for a student visa is a long process involving many forms and fees, and a visit to Guatemala’s U.S. Embassy.

“Applying for student visa is easier than applying for a tourist visa or any other visa to work for here in the United States because you already got accepted in a school,” De León said.

Abarca said it is of valuable to have studied in the U.S.

“BYU is one of the best universities, so it’s kind of a big deal because it means that you can speak English really well,” Abarca said. “And Chileans, if you say that you live in America or that you are American they are like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ so it helps.”