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US Visa issues for science students/scholars

  1. Feb 7, 2005 #1

    ZapperZ

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    It is not a secret that US schools, institutions, and industries have always tried to attract the best and brightest students, scholars, and scientists from all over the world. In fact, the ability to continuously attract such persons plays a vital role in the prestigue of many institutions. In physics alone, for example, slightly more than half of the graduate student population in US universities are international students.

    However, these numbers a slowly declining after 9/11. The major reason attributed to this decline is the increasing and lengthy problems in obtaining an entry visa into the US to either study, or work. While the problem currently isn't as severe as it was the first two years after 9/11, there are still cases where students and scholars did not receive visas on time to attend classes or conferences.

    If you intend to study in the US, or pursue your postdoctoral work here, I strongly recommend you read the article in this month's issue of Physics Today.

    http://www.aip.org/pt/vol-58/iss-2/p49.html

    Pay attention to two particular points:

    1. Most fields of physics appear on the State Department's Technological Alert List. What this means is that if you are going to be, or already majoring, in physics in a particular field, the nature of your research will require that you undergo a "visa mantis". This is roughly a review of that field and whether it is "appropriate" for you to be doing it. This applies especially to postdoctoral scholars, since you are now considered to be an expert in that field of study. So there is a good chance that your application for an entry visa will NOT be approved of immediately (expect a 2 to 4 week delay).

    2. The US National Academy of Sciences is keeping track of those who, for some reason, have their visa delayed for more than a month. Take note of the link given in that article where, if you are in this predicament, you should fill out that questionnaire. While this does not guarantee that you visa will be approved, at the very least, it will make sure that your application isn't lost or ignored.

    The best advice out of all this is to apply as early as possible. If you are applying for a new entry visa, start 6 months ahead of time, and certainly as soon as you have received the appropriate visa from the relevant institution. If you leave the US for a vacation or any other reason with an expired entry visa, make backup plans if you are delayed (plan on a delay of 2 to 4 weeks after your initial application). Things are improving, but they're improving slowly.

    Now, all of the above may or may not apply to those who are citizens of what the State Department categorize as "sensitive" countries. If you are from China, India, Russia, etc., expect even longer delays and possible additional background checks.

    Consider the above as an unofficial advice. You should always check the State Department's website, and the relevant US embassy's website on the exact info at any given time, since these things are continually in flux.

    Zz.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2005 #2

    Moonbear

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    Good advice Zz. Also, for those already in the US, their international student offices should be keeping them informed, but if not, the rules have changed recently regarding J1 and H1 visas, which I think affects primarily postdocs studying in the US. Check up on those if you are here on visa status with a J1 or H1.
     
  4. Feb 7, 2005 #3
    This isn't entirely true. The famous "braindrain" to the US lowers because of other reasons too. Many other countries (certainly in western europe, india, china) are manifesting themselves on a higher level when it comes to scientific work, results and publications. For example one of the founders of stamcell therapy (i don't recall her name but she is from Belgium) just left the US a few weeks ago after 20 years of research there. The reason being the fact that here in Belgium, a new centre for such research has been founded. This is just an example, but many others follow this lead : IMEC, being one of them...

    regards
    marlon
     
  5. Feb 7, 2005 #4

    ZapperZ

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    Notice that I didn't say it is the ONLY reason.

    However, when you look at the statistics from the AIP site, it is very clear that the decline in the number of foreign students in the sciences and engineering coincides with 9/11. Students from China, which sends the largest number of foreign students to the US, declined significantly after 9/11 because of the increasing difficulties for chinese students to get entry visa in a timely manner.

    This view is shared by many educational institutions here per the relevant statistics. So I didn't just come up with such a conclusion out of thin air.

    Zz.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2005 #5
    I am certainly not denying those statistics. However, i just wanted to add the fact that the braindrain is definitely slowing down for several reasons.

    marlon
     
  7. Feb 7, 2005 #6

    ZapperZ

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    So then which part of what I said "isn't entirely true"? I said that the major reason (I didn't say this is the only reason) for the decline was the irrationally tougher visa process. If you do not deny the AIP statistics, do you disagree with my statement above?

    Zz.
     
  8. Feb 7, 2005 #7
    Again, i just wanted to add other reasons why the braindrain toward the US is slowing down. I do not deny the fact that 911 may be the primary reason. If you say so according to AIP-statistics (however : i have not seen them) then i can only agree with such a statement.

    What i meant with "isn't entirely true" was the fact that other reasons are gaining importance towards this evolution. Indeed, you did not say 911 was the only reason, however you also did not give any OTHER reason. I do not disagree with the content of your first post...

    regards
    marlon
     
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