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Drop in Middle Easterners at U.S. schools tied to visas - Washington Times, USA

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  • Zafar Khan
    Drop in Middle Easterners at U.S. schools tied to visas By Ellen Sorokin THE WASHINGTON TIMES http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20021129-21795850.htm The
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2002
      Drop in Middle Easterners at U.S. schools tied to
      visas
      By Ellen Sorokin
      THE WASHINGTON TIMES

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20021129-21795850.htm

      The number of students from the Middle East who
      are attending colleges in the United States on
      scholarships has dropped 12 percent this year, mostly
      because of the delays caused by the new federal visa
      regulations adopted since the September 11 attacks,
      according to a new survey.

      About 8,800 students from countries such as Saudi
      Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Qatar are enrolled this year
      at American institutions. Of that number, 600
      students, or 6.8 percent, have not been able to return
      to or start school on time because of visa delays, the
      survey conducted by the Arab American Institute shows.

      Last year, there were approximately 10,000
      students from the Middle East attending American
      schools, the survey shows.

      The latest figures are of concern to institute
      officials, who argue that the federal government
      should make the new visa process more efficient for
      foreign students, particularly those who want to come
      to the United States from the Middle East. In some
      cases, students are waiting up to three months to
      obtain a visa, the survey shows.

      They argue that leaving the process alone could
      be harmful to the American economy.

      "If the United States continues its current
      policy, we are at risk of losing international
      students to other countries," said Jean AbiNader, the
      institute's managing director.

      "We must recognize that these students are the
      leaders of tomorrow. Foreign students are the conduits
      by which we communicate ourselves to the rest of the
      world. They should be encouraged to study in the
      United States.

      "The September 11 attacks demonstrated only too
      well the consequences of cultures failing to
      communicate."

      Mr. AbiNader said the institute agrees that
      stiffer guidelines should be adopted, but suggests the
      government could speed the process: It could notify
      students within a month whether they will get their
      visas so they can continue their studies.

      "The system is so poor that what we're doing is
      turning many of these people off rather than
      encouraging them to come here," he said.

      The institute surveyed the Arab embassies in
      Washington, Arab companies that provide U.S.
      scholarships and training for students, and
      organizations that coordinate international students.

      The countries that participated in the survey
      were Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,
      Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates
      and Yemen. The institute did not receive responses
      from Algeria, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco and
      Tunisia.

      The survey also showed that embassies and
      companies sponsored about 1,400 students this year,
      compared with 3,200 last year — a 56 percent drop



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