Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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International students may have trouble returning to U.S.

Recent guidelines put into place by the State Department are causing some international students to avoid the United States entirely for their education.

In response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the State Department created a process in which international students wishing to study in the United States must undergo a background check conducted in Washington instead of at the embassy where the visa is issued.

At Colorado State University, the new guidelines have prevented seven Saudi Arabian students from returning to school after returning home for the summer months. Six of the seven are graduate students.

“We’re drafting a resolution to deal with it,” said Britt Farnsworth, graduate students senator at CSU. “We are considering legislation, but the problem is it’s a government issue and not much of our issue. If we did write legislation, it would be in support of giving the students their visas, and the university has no control over that.”

By law, universities sponsoring international students are required to maintain current administrative records on international students and provide information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service when specifically asked to do so.

Last year, the State Department announced it would slow the visa process for international students from 26 Arab and Muslim nations. For students from those 26 countries, a visa will take at least 20 days, and in the case of the students from CSU, it will take much longer. Countries included in the new State Department guidelines include Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

However long the process may take, it appears the students may be returning to their education soon, according to Mark Hallett, director of International Student Services at CSU.

“Over the weekend I received some e-mails from the students,” Hallett said. “They had been asked by the embassy, one in Riyadh and Jeddah, to have us send an e-mail in addition so that they could be granted the visas.”

Because most of the students are involved in research, most could come back and experience no delay in graduation date.

“Most of the students are grad students who are pretty far along in their doctoral programs, and since they’ll be working on dissertations, at this point they have more flexibility,” Hallett said. “If they get the visas, they’ll probably still come back this semester because they’ll be working on research. We’re pretty hopeful that pretty soon we’ll have a resolution here, but it remains to be seen.”

Some believe the stricter guidelines put in place by the State Department are causing international students to avoid American universities for their education.

“Some of the students who are here are worried about going home now,” Hallett said. “They’re wondering, ‘Well, should I and my family stay in the U.S. until I finish my degree? Can’t go home for Ramadan in December, can’t go home over the summer if I need to get a new visa,’ and I know that in the Gulf region some of the students are starting to consider going to other countries rather than the United States for their education.”

Hallett said the students are handling the situation well and are hoping to return to CSU as soon as possible.

“I’m sure they’re pretty disappointed and frustrated,” Hallett said. “They’re trying to make travel arrangements; some of them have their families there with them. Their educations are obviously very important to their professional plans. It’s a great disruption in their lives.”

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