A joint statement by 30 scientific, academic and engineering groups praises the federal government on several past actions it has taken to address visa concerns held in both the academic and scientific communities but it also calls for the creation of a high-level interagency panel to review all post-September 11th visa policies.
Additionally, the organizations said that the federal government should build on these positive actions by taking a number of steps to improve the visa process further:
- Convene a high-level interagency panel to review the full range of visa-related policies and procedures imposed after 9/11, evaluate their cost-effectiveness, and consider revising or eliminating ineffective and unnecessary procedures.
- Provide additional resources to agencies involved in the visa process to allow timely processing of visa applications.
- Streamline the non-immigrant visa process to 30 days for legitimate graduate students, researchers, or professionals in science and technology whose applications are supported by a qualified university, scientific body, or company.
- Reduce repetitive processing of visa applications for well-known researchers and scholars who regularly visit the United States to attend academic conferences and conduct research.
- Increase training of consular staff to make treatment of applicants more consistent and enhance security.
- Provide more information to applicants who experience delays in the application process and establish a review process for applications that take more than 30 days to process.
- Review and streamline the Technology Alert List, which identifies sensitive areas of science and technology for possible export controls, to include only subject areas that have explicit implications for national security.
- Expand ongoing efforts to renegotiate visa reciprocity agreements between the United States and key sending countries, such as China, to extend the duration of visas each country grants students and scholars of the other and to permit multiple entries on a single visa.