Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Senate Democrats Urge State Department to Accelerate Clearing Student Visa Backlog

A group of 24 Senate Democrats is calling on the US State Department to “do everything it can” to expedite the student visa process so that international students can begin their studies in the United States before the start of the new academic year.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, senators suggested that the department should increase staffing and working hours, make the most of virtual interviews, and provide more flexibility to rapidly meet backlogs of student visa requests. needed.

“We are at a critical point in the academic calendar when international students and scholars must make visa appointments and plan their travel to the United States,” the senators explained in the letter, although some US consulates may reopen from pandemic shutdowns. However, most of them are still working at reduced capacity, and access to visa appointments is limited.

Applicants for student visas may have to wait weeks or months for an in-person appointment, depending on which agency is handling their requests. NS State Department website Shows that an interview at the US Embassy in Seoul, South Korea takes a waiting period of 10 days, while the US Consulate in Vancouver, Canada has a waiting time of 73 days. Only emergency appointments are available at the US Embassy in New Delhi.

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“While we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a challenge, other competing countries have issued clear guidance for international students, and we urge the State Department to do everything it can to expedite the process of student visas.” We do.” Senators said.

The letter was co-signed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Cal.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, along with 23 others including Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with senators. Amy Klobuchar (D-Min.), and Corey Booker (D.N.J.).

While international student enrollment in US institutions has been falling since 2016, the decline was particularly sharp last year due to the global spread of the CCP (Communist Party of China) virus, which causes COVID-19.

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According to a report (PDF) released in March by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), there were 1.25 million active records of students on F-1 and M-1 visas during calendar year 2020, a drop of about 18 percent from the previous year. The Northeast, which was the initial epicenter of the virus, saw the highest decrease of 19.4 per cent. California continued to host more international students than any other state.

According to the ICE report, US schools also saw a 72 percent decrease in new international student enrollment in 2020 compared to 2019. New international students include those who were not enrolled in a program of study at a US school during the previous calendar year.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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