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Monday, February 16, 2004 The Chronicle of Higher Education February 11, 2004 Academy Tracks Visa Delays for International Scientists to Help Ease Backlog By MICHAEL ARNONE Washington. International students and scholars who have already experienced long delays in getting visas to enter the United States are more likely to be kept waiting than those who have applied more recently, according to an online survey conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. New cases tend to get cleared faster than older ones, said Wendy D. White, director of the academy's Board on International Scientific Organizations. 'Some of those cases have been hanging around forever and are still hanging around forever.' The academy created a Web site last June to 'take some proactive role to help scientists get visas,' Ms. White said. The site informs international scientists about the visa process and collects information to help the U.S. government eliminate backlogs in issuing visas. As of last week, the site had registered 1,140 cases and had rendered assistance in 951, or 83 percent, of them. Of those, 294, or 31 percent, were still awaiting a final decision from the U.S. Department of State. Those people have been waiting, on average, 171 days -- more than five months -- for an answer. Of the 590 cases in which visas had been granted, the people had waited only 140 days, on average. A form on the Web site collects dates and details of a person's visa process, and whether a U.S. consulate either delayed granting a visa or denied one altogether. Applicants can list the reasons given for the delay or denial and the effects that the decision had on their academic activities, including research. The applicants can also describe their experiences at U.S. consulates or at American ports of entry. Once a week, the academy sends the collected information to the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, Ms. White said. Those agencies then cross-reference the data with their records. The office is working on where to send the information in the Department of Homeland Security, she said." This article reprinted in full without permission for the purposes of discussion and review, as permitted by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
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The Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions is a loose-knit coalition of labor unions in the USA and Canada that represents graduate students employed as teachers, researchers, and administrative staff.