International students bound to the US have expressed frustration at the problems they face in the absence of visas to the US Embassy in some countries. The concerns emerge despite US officials promising that they will prioritize tourist visa services for students and exchange tourists.
According to a study released by The PIE News, details of the discontent of students come in the middle of International Education Week, which the US has used to position itself as ‘engaged’ in order to allow international education and student capacity.
AsmodKhakurel, a first-year student from Nepal who has been studying remotely since the beginning of the academic year as part of his course with an Ohio university, told The PIE News that due to the 11-hour time difference between the US and Nepal, his day begins at 2.40 am to attend class.
Shortage of US Embassy appointment
Khakurel had hoped to obtain his U.S. visa at the Kathmandu U.S. Embassy, enabling him to take his course in person. However, a lack of appointments to the US Embassy made this impossible.
He said They are worried about health and safety because of COVID, but they have no concrete facts. My college, I’m glad, they have made me trust that they can support us as much as possible, even in distant classrooms.”
Khakurel has however, watched several of his peers depart Hong Kong, Germany and the United Arab Emirates to study though he himself is not able to obtain a visa appointment at the embassy in Nepal.
Embassies from other countries open, Khakurel said, but he said the US Embassy is very vague and confusing.
Eligibility for Scholarship
Khakurel said that the delays could see them cut off from their scholarships for others. “If some students are unable to go to the U.S. next spring, they will lose their scholarships,” he told The PIE News.
A letter written by the University of Texas at San Antonio, allegedly seen by The PIE Press, evidently told all its Distinguished Presidential Scholarship recipients for the fall of 2020 that it would not postpone scholarships into the spring of 2021.
Office of UTSA Scholarship
“The UTSA Scholarship Office apparently confirmed the position of the University of Texas by stating that “students must begin to take classes from spring 2021 and must be enrolled full-time, either in person or online, in order to disburse the Distinguished Presidential Scholarship.
Ranjit Adhikari, a University of Texas student and a UTSA DPS recipient from Nepal, said that it is really depressing to get such a response from my university.”
“I was utterly broken. The Embassy is not opening up for visa [appointments] on the one hand, and this is also a stressful condition because I don’t know if I should wait for it to resume or schedule anything else on my own,’ said Adhikari.
In the meantime, I’m not willing to study online because I’m not sure whether I can get a US visa because even after many attempts, several people do not get a visa. So if I study online and in the future I don’t get a visa, all the time, money and resources expended would go to] waste,’ he said.
High priority for international students
The US Department of State (DoS) insists that its ‘phased resumption’ of routine student visa services remains a ‘high priority’ amid the frustrations of international students. The Does said We will make every effort to provide timely assistance to student visa applicants while keeping our employees and customers safe.”
The Does has said, however, that the only visa appointments actually available at certain US embassies are reserved for emergency applicants, generally indicating an immediate need to fly to the US for medical or humanitarian reasons.
Joann Ng Hartmann, senior director of IEM-ISS Programs and Volunteer Engagement for NAFSA, told The PIE News: “Visa issues continue to be a concern and challenge for schools and students.”
“We are aware that students are struggling to secure visa appointments, as not all U.S. Embassies and Consulates have resumed routine visa services due to the impact of COVID-19, but also hear anecdotally about students and scholars successfully receiving travel visas,” said Hartmann.
According to Hartmann, the new advice from the DoS states that student and exchange guest visa applicants, along with people who have immediate travel requirements, are prioritised. Hartmann did, though, point out that travel bans could also hamper their ability to get to the US even though people obtain a US visa.
Hartmann said she expects the Biden administration will fix the issue of the travel ban.
Problems for US visas across the world
The two main senders to the US of foreign students, China and India, have options at American Embassies for emergency US visa appointments. Most are locked only though.
Visa applicants have also identified difficulties in Brazil, Nigeria, Nepal, the UK, and Turkey, while individuals in South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and Mexico are facing complications despite the availability of appointments.