Speeding up the visa issuance process for international students: from senators to the U.S. government

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There are over 100,000 Indian students in the United States and they contribute significantly to the American economy

A bipartisan group of influential senators on Friday urged the Biden administration to speed up the process of issuing visas to international students, a move likely to benefit thousands of Indians who wish to join their classes this fall.

In India, for example in Delhi, only emergency visas are currently issued by the US Embassy, ​​making a large number of Indian students uncertain about their academic future for the next session which will begin this fall.

There are over 100,000 Indian students in the United States and they contribute significantly to the American economy.

“We are writing to express our concerns about the slow processing of student visas as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” two dozen senators wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

“In order to welcome international students and scholars in the fall, as competing countries are doing, we urge the State Department to provide predictable and consistent consular services, to maximize alternatives to in-person visa interviews by providing waivers and virtual interviews, to expand visa eligibility. waivers, allow staff overtime and increase hiring, and initiate meaningful engagement with stakeholders and outside agencies, ”they said.

“We are at a critical point in the academic calendar when international students and scholars need to make visa appointments and plan their trip to the United States,” they added. Senators further said that while some US consulates reopen, most are still operating at lower capacity levels and access to visa appointments remains limited.

Prospective students cannot be sure their visas will be processed in time so they can travel to the United States to begin their studies, the senators wrote.

“While we appreciate the creation of a national interest exception for international students, processing these visas in a timely manner continues to be a challenge. International students coming to the United States bring significant and essential value to the higher education system and our economy, ”they stressed.

Data from the Association of International Educators shows that more than one million international students at US colleges and universities in the 2018-2019 academic year contributed $ 41 billion to the economy of the United States. country.

In addition, bringing international students to the United States enriches the educational experience of domestic students, which would be more difficult to achieve through online formats.

There are also practical barriers to online learning for international students while they are physically outside the United States, as not all countries have reliable access to electricity or the Internet and time zone differences are forcing some students to show up online for class in the middle of the night, senators said. .

There are also countries that restrict access to certain information or websites, while the United States also prohibits sharing of certain information with other countries, they added.

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