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China: US begins processing student visas

William Bistransky, acting consul general at the US Embassy in Beijing,  announced on April 30 that visa processing for Chinese students would resume this month, with plans to handle 2,000 applications a day by mid-May.

visaUS Consulates, including the one in Guangzhou (pictured), have started processing applications. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

More than 3,000 online applications were filed online within the first hour

More than 3,000 online applications were filed online within the first hour of the platform reopening, with the first appointments having taking place on May 4.

A total of 100 visa officers, who will be supported by 150 local staff, will process the new applications.

Agents and students alike expressed their relief after months of uncertainty as to whether they would be able to obtain study visas for the US before the start of the next academic year.

In some cases, students opted to travel to other countries such as Singapore in order to make their applications, with some agencies offering all-inclusive packages that covered their flights, accommodation and application assistance.

“It’s exciting to learn US visa processing is resumed when the national interest exceptions for several countries (including China) was launched last week”

“It’s exciting to learn US visa processing is resumed when the national interest exceptions for several countries (including China) was launched last week,” said Ben Chen, executive vice president of Global Education Alliance.

“At the same time, [there’s] a little concern on whether students are able to make appointments smoothly due to the massive backlog in the past few months.”

Chen added that students are generally happy with the news, particularly as returning students are eligible for an interview waiver, and are optimistic about the progress of vaccinations in the US.

“There is wide, collective optimism here resulting from the recent policy updates, and an excited anticipation of a major rebound from our member agents who send students to the US,” added BOSSA spokesperson Jon Santangelo.

“We share their enthusiasm and expect some closer returns to normalcy this autumn.”

Bistransky however said that extra screening would remain in place for students with hi-tech backgrounds. The ban on postgraduate students and researchers with links to China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy will also not be lifted.

The two measures were brought in under Trump in light of fears that espionage was being conducted under the guise of studying.

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