Washington, DC: A bipartisan group of influential senators on Friday urged the Biden Administration to accelerate the process of issuing visas to international students, a move likely to benefit thousands of Indians who want to join their classes this Fall.
In India, for instance in Delhi, only emergency visas are currently being issued by the US Embassy, as a result of which a large number of Indian students are uncertain about their academic future for the next session beginning this Fall.
There are over 100,000 Indian students in the US and they contribute significantly to the American economy.
“We write to express our concerns regarding the slow pace of processing 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 competitor countries are doing, we urge the State Department to provide predictable and consistent consular services, maximize alternatives to in-person visa interviews by providing waivers and virtual interviews, extend visa eligibility waivers, authorize staff overtime and increase hiring, and initiate meaningful engagement with outside stakeholders and agencies,” they said.
“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,” they added. The senators further said while some US consulates are reopening, most are still operating at lower capacity levels and there remains limited access to visa appointments.
Prospective students cannot be certain about whether their visas will be processed in time for them to travel to the United States to begin their studies, the senators wrote.
“While we appreciate that a National Interest Exception for international students has been created, the processing of these visas in a timely way continues to be a challenge. International students coming to the United States provide significant and essential value to the higher education system and our economy,” they stressed. (PTI)