Delayed visas make it imperative to plan ahead for foreign visitors

29 January 2003 |

In the post-Sept. 11 era, it takes months longer than it used to for international students, researchers, and lecturers to obtain U.S. entry visas at overseas consulates. This means that whether a department is making graduate admissions decisions or inviting international scholars to campus, it is important to work as far in advance as possible, says David Leonard, dean of International and Area Studies.

For international scholars on J-1 visas, it now typically takes four months, or longer, from the time of the initial invitation to the person’s arrival at the campus. For example, a Chinese student applied for a visa last June but didn’t obtain it until October, and so had to wait until spring semester to begin studies at Berkeley.

Admission decisions for international graduate students, especially those who may be taking fellowship slots, also need to be made earlier than ever, Leonard notes. “Our concern really is less for those denied a visa outright than for those students and scholars whose visas get delayed,” he says. “It’s the unpredictability that makes it so hard.”


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