Visa Crunch

US senators urge the Biden administration to accelerate the process of issuing visas to international students

Senators from both parties have urged the US government to speed up the process of granting visas to the international students who want to start their classes this fall. A large chunk of Indian students is worried as only emergency visas are being granted by the US embassy in India which puts a big question mark against their academic career as the fall session is set to begin next month.

Currently, out of the entire pool of international students in the US, 100,000 Indian students make a significant contribution to the American economy.

The letter is signed by around two dozen senators who state their concern towards the pace at which student visas are processed currently despite the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter to the Secretary of State said, “We recommend the State Department to provide consistent and reliable consular assistance, maximize alternative options to in-person visa interviews by offering waivers and online interviews, broaden visa eligibility waivers, authorize staff overtime and boost hiring, and undertake effective communication with other stakeholders to welcome international students and researchers this fall as other countries are doing. Although some US consulates are reopening, the legislators added that many are still functioning at smaller footprint levels, with restricted availability to visa appointments. This brings a lot of uncertainty about the processing time of student visas without which the students cannot travel to the States to begin their academics. The letter appreciated the creation of the National Interest Exception for international students, but it also said that the processing of visas remains a challenge.

According to the Association of International Educators, over one million international students at U.S. colleges and universities made a significant contribution of $41 billion to the country’s economy during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Besides that, international students enrich domestic students’ educational experiences, which is more difficult to accomplish via digital platforms. The fact that not all countries have reliable electricity or internet access, and that time zone differences force some students to attend classes online in the middle of the night is the pragmatic obstacle that international students face while learning online.

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