Foreign students hoping to travel to the United States will find that visa procedures have become more difficult since Sept. 11.
Due to increased security measures since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, students may be required to fill out more forms than before, said Mary Jacob, Director of International Students at UCSB. The time it takes to be approved for a visa to the United States is also increasing, as the Immigration and Naturalization Service and State Dept. have invoked additional screening measures, especially for residents of designated terrorist countries, she said.
“There are so many new regulations we are dealing with,” Jacob said. “Every week there is something new.”
The increased security measures require all men between the ages of 16 and 45 to fill out an additional form with their visa. People traveling from designated terrorist countries are also fingerprinted and photographed by the FBI upon entrance into the U.S., and must check in with an INS office within 30 days of their arrival.
It does not seem, however, that people are being denied visas based on their nationality, Jacob said.
“As long as [the student] has all their documents in order, they are not prevented from coming into the United States,” she said.
Before students are granted visas, they must first follow procedures in place before Sept. 11. First the students must be admitted to the schools they wish to attend, said Judy Berger, an International Admissions Specialist at UCSB. Once students are admitted and have proven financial security, they are given I-20 forms, which they then bring to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their countries. The students meet with a U.S. educational adviser at the embassy or consulate, said Berger, who quizzes the students on what they plan to study, how long they plan to stay and confirms that the students will return to their home countries after completing their education.
“[A majority of the foreign students at UCSB are here] to study, meet their degree requirements and go home,” Berger said.
So far, six Chinese students and two Indian students have been denied visas into the US, even though they were admitted to UCSB, Jacob said. Berger said the reasons their countries denied them visas may vary.
“Sometimes the reasons are financial and political. The adviser may have thought the student did not have good enough grades to go or that what they planned to major in will not do him or his country any good. It really depends on the particular country and embassy’s policies,” she said.
This year, UCSB has enrolled 357 foreign undergraduates and 631 graduate foreign students, as compared with last year, when 330 foreign undergraduates and 578 foreign graduate students were enrolled. Most of these students come from European and Asian countries, however that is due to the fact that those are the qualified students who apply, Jacob said.
Berger said there are no quotas set for the number of students who can be admitted from any particular country.
“UCSB takes those students who are competitive with very high scores from the schools [they attended] in their country,” she said. “Foreign students must be academically equivalent or better than a domestic California student.”