Visa renewal process could delay return to U.S.

The University’s international students, faculty and researchers should carefully consider making visits outside the United States — particularly if a new visa is needed to return, according to Kathy Steiner-Lang, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars.

New visa application procedures could result in a delayed return to this country.

“Since the fall of 2001, new procedures have been implemented to ensure more security in the visa and immigration processes,” Steiner-Lang said. “All consulates are carrying out new procedures, including interviews for all applicants. Summer is the peak season for visa applications due to increases in tourism and study abroad during that period.”

All visa and immigration applicants are required to undergo a series of security checks before the application is approved. The combination of all these factors means that longer processing times for visa and immigration applications should be anticipated — anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

“University departments that employ international students, faculty and researchers need to understand that if someone takes a vacation outside the United States, the visa process may delay return for a lengthy period of time,” Steiner-Lang said. “Also, the process for new international students and scholars will likely be lengthy, so early applications are advised.”

While a student or scholar may desire to travel outside the United States, the University cannot ever guarantee re-entry to the United States. Therefore, international students, faculty and researchers should seriously weigh the consequences of international travel and must determine the extent to which a trip abroad will jeopardize the completion of the academic or research program, Steiner-Lang said.

Staff members in the Office for International Students and Scholars are available to outline the necessary procedures, documentation and risks for the individual student, faculty member or researcher. For more information, call 935-5910.