The United States on Monday said it working to expedite existing efforts to attract future leaders from abroad to take advantage of education opportunities in the United States. “We recognize that foreign students bring with them tremendous intellectual, social, and economic benefits. As part of these efforts, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs gives students visa opportunities special priority,” the State Department said in a statement. “All U.S. embassies and consulates expedite visa processing for foreign students to ensure qualified students are able to begin their academic program on time. Worldwide, the maximum wait for a student visa appointment is fewer than 15 days. Foreign students can apply for their visas up to 120 days before their academic programs begin. We always encourage all visa applicants to apply early,” the department said. “At home and abroad, students continue to seek international education to gain the skills, the contacts, and the experience necessary to succeed in the global marketplace. The consistent growth in international enrollments in the United States attests to the university recognized pre-eminence of the country’s higher education system,” the department said. “International education grew by nearly 9 percent during the 2010/2011 academic year, and foreign students studying in the United States brought $21.3 billion into the domestic economy. Most importantly, educational exchanges foster mutual understanding, respect, and goodwill between Americans and people around the world,” the department said.