Stateside Academic Visa Processing
Currently, international students must renew their visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate office abroad- a process that takes at least 30 days. Requiring the renewal of academic visas abroad is disrupting scholarship, impeding research, and is an undue hardship that our international scholars currently endure.
SOLUTION: Establish an U.S. government program that would allow international students to renew their visas within the U.S., prior to international travel, instead of at an office abroad.
We need your stories to help make that happen.
“…this trip left me with a bill of $8000 in hand due to unemployment, rental, cancelled flight tickets, traveling back and forth…” Read MoreGrant:
“…I had a friend who went home for the holidays, so he could visit his family and his wife in Russia. He ran into visa problems on his way home. … [And as a consequence] I had to teach two courses a week for the first two or three weeks of the semester on top of my full course load and my full teaching load…” Read More
“…Because my visa was expired I could not go there to present my work and meet other famous scientists. …Which means the money paid by NIH, didn’t get the real impact it should get…” Read More
Visa Delays Put Science Careers at Risk – Science
Benefits of Stateside Processing Include:
Supports and Creates U.S. Jobs
- Without these additional hardships, international students would be able to contribute more to the U.S. economy.
- For every 2 international students enrolled, 1 U.S. job is created or supported.  
- According to NAFSA, in the 2014-2015 academic year, foreign students and their families supported over 370,000 U.S. jobs and contributed $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy.
Preserves Security Standards
- Stateside processing will be able to uphold the security standards that are in place at our consulates abroad. This proposal takes the same screening process currently happening out of the country and offers it in the U.S.
Saves Time and Money
- Allowing domestic renewal of F visas would circumvent the unnecessary time and financial burden currently required for students to renew their academic student visas.
Fosters American Research Competitiveness
- Currently, international students funded by federal research dollars are hindered from conducting and representing high caliber U.S. research on the international stage. 
Attract the World’s Best and Brightest
- Between 2001 and 2014, the U.S. share of the “global market” of international students has declined by 29%. 
- Talented foreign students are being enticed to study in other countries with more attractive student visa policies.  
“I have left my country, Iran, four years ago to pursue my dream of helping the humanity to defeat cancer, to do my part, to pay my duty toward the world in a way I loved and knew, the science. And where better to peruse such a goal than America, the land of freedom, resources, opportunities and human rights.
I knew it is going to be hard, long hours of studying, spending days and nights in the laboratory trying to reveal and translate the nature’s secrets. I knew that doing a PhD in science is going to be stressful and hectic. But there was a great cause for me, personally; people were and still are dying from cancer.
I knew that I am going to be far away from home and miss my family and could not make to see my parents very so often due to financial difficulties of graduate students life but have underestimated the amount of psychological impact this one factor can put on my studies and state of mind in general.
So this past summer I decided to give my family a short visit after three full years of not being with them. I have talked to my advisor, Dr. King, booked the ticket and made the trip arrangements shooting for being away for 3 weeks at top. I have packed with such a hope that is going to be the greatest trip of all time. Well it didn’t really turn out that way. I had to apply for my student visa in US embassy in Dubai. The clearance of my visa itself took more than 2 months, leaving me and my family in tremendous amount of stress and taking away all the happiness of me being back home from us with my great fear of such a big gap in the course of my doctorate period. Finally I got the visa approval and managed to get back to USA after 80 days and this trip left me with a bill of $8000 in hand due to unemployment, rental, cancelled flight tickets, traveling back and forth from Iran to Dubai and US and my living expenses during more than 80 days of leave. I should mention that the project I was carrying out in Dr. King’s lab has been interrupted for the whole time of my leave and that is almost a season of scientific year. To be honest I don’t dare to calculate how much financial burden it had left on our laboratory.
My story is one of the thousand stories; a lot of graduate students do not go home for their entire duration of studies in average 5 years for PhD students.
The point I want to make and the question I have to ask is, couldn’t it be less difficult and harmful, scientifically, emotionally and financially for students, university and also the government to handle student visa renewal? Can’t we come out with another approach for this problem to benefit everyone?”
“I know that student visa renewal is largely an international student problem, but as a domestic student, it puts a burden on us as well. I had a friend who went home for the holidays, so he could visit his family and his wife in Russia. He ran into visa problems on his way home. He was delayed by three weeks, so he missed the first three weeks of courses. Being a teacher, somebody had to teach the courses he was supposed to be teaching. That burden fell on me and one of the other students in our department. I had to teach two courses a week for the first two or three weeks of the semester on top of my full course load and my full teaching load. I had to teach and grade. That added maybe 10 hours a week to my first three weeks of my semester, so I just wanted to lend a voice to the domestic student problems, as well, with this issue.”
“I am also from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. I am from China. I will get this straight and give you some facts. Our group has a project of protein structure prediction, which is funded by the NIH [National Institutes of Health]. In this field there is a competition for testing the methods we build, every two years. It was held in 2010, 2012, and 2014. After this competition, there will be an international conference for us to attend and communicate with each other, present our work, present our methods and learn from others. In 2010 this conference was in California, so I could go. I met a lot of famous scientists there and learned a lot of things. I also presented my work. It went very well. I loved that conference. But in 2012, since this conference is really international, it has to be in different places every time. In 2012 it was held in Italy. Because my visa expired I could not go there. Actually, at that time our group created our server and I ran our server during that presentation. Actually, our server worked very well that time. We were among the top five groups. Because my visa was expired I could not go there to present my work and meet other famous scientists. That is a big loss. It is not only a loss of me. It is also a loss of the group. Also, the loss of the science community in the United States. Which means the money paid by NIH, didn’t get the real impact it should get. I think we should fix this problem and make sure the people who pay taxes in the US, all this money, take the most advantage of this money. Thanks.”
References Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange 2014, Institute of International Education.
http://www.iie.org/opendoors  The Economic Benefit of International Students 2015, NAFSA
http://www.nafsa.org/_/File/_/econvalue2015_natl.pdf  Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States, The National Academies.
http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11289.html  Atlas of Student Mobility, Institute of International Education.
http://www.iie.org/projectatlas  U.S. Immigration Policy, Council on Foreign Relations.