Science Groups Call for Visa Reforms

June 11, 2009

A coalition of science organizations has issued a call for reform of visa procedures that have made it difficult -- unnecessarily so, in the view of these groups -- for foreign students and scholars to get into the United States for study, research and teaching. The statement notes increasing concerns about delays growing, and praises recent steps by the Obama administration to deal with the problems. Going forward, the statement calls for a series of additional steps, including:

  • Streamlining the visa process for short-term visitors in science and technology.
  • Reducing the "repetitive processing" of visa applications by "well known researchers and scholars who regularly visit the United States."
  • Creating protocols "to make treatment of applicants more consistent."
  • Reconsidering the technologies that place subject areas on an alert list for special reviews of those seeking to work in those areas in the United States.
  • Renegotiating visa reciprocity agreements with other countries.

"Our nation needs a visa system that supports international exchange and cooperation," says the statement. "We are confident that it is possible to have a system that protects national security, and yet is still timely and transparent, provides for thorough reviews of applicants, and welcomes the finest talent. Scientific exchange and security are not mutually exclusive; to the contrary, they complement each other, and each is vital to the other."

Among the groups that organized the statement: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

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