State Department Makes Time to Speed Up Visas for Scholars

By Mandee Heller Adler

Here’s some good news for families with foreign students who are applying for visas to study in the U.S.:

The U.S. State Department is moving to significantly speed up the delay-ridden visa-application process for foreign students and scholars. Apparently, the delays were caused by an increasing numbers of visa applications, staff shortages, and governmental security concerns

Amazingly, the department’s goal is to take a process that has been known to drag on for months and reduce it to two weeks.

To alleviate the situation, the department has brought in additional staff members, including both permanent and temporary workers, to deal with the backlog of visa requests and handle applications. The department has also revamped procedures to accelerate reviews.

What made them get their move on? Academic groups and scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and the Association of American Universities were loudly complaining that researchers from abroad who are seeking to obtain or renew visas have frequently encountered months-long delays. As a result, some scholars who left the United States had been stranded, the groups say, while other researchers and students were discouraged from traveling to the United States for work or for academic meetings, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Visas weren’t always so hard to obtain. The tougher visa rules were established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Those rules were meant to weed out students or scholars who could be threats to national security but what also happened was that the tougher regulations caused visa delays that forced academics to alter their travel plans, deterring many from coming to the United States.

A total of 56,000 students or scholars world-wide were screened last year.

If you have any other college admissions questions for a college counselor, I’d be happy to answer them. I work with international students (9 countries and counting!) as well as those in the U.S. Please write me here or at my personal email which can be found on my International College Counselors college counseling website.

Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors


By the way, my college advising company is opening a new branch of International College Counselors in NYC so now you can visit our college advisor NYC as well.