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Is the visa process deterring international students?

Nov 14, 2019

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Marketplace

A computer glitch spells trouble for visitors to the U.S.

Gigi Douban Jun 22, 2015
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Those going to the U.S. State Department’s website this week looking for a travel visa will likely get a message saying the department’s having technical difficulties. This is putting potentially tens of thousands of visitors and summer workers on hold.

The State Department says more than a hundred computer experts are working around the clock to fix the glitch. But Nathan Sales, who teaches law at Syracuse University, says he’s not optimistic it will be resolved quickly. “If you’re the State Department, and your visa processing system goes down, well, you’re not going to go out of business, and there’s no real accountability mechanism by which foreign citizens who would really like to visit family members or go to Disneyworld can hold you accountable.”

Sales says it’s unfortunate any time of year, but it’s especially tough during peak travel season. “People aren’t able to come to the United States because of a technical glitch on our end, that’s going to have some real impact on our tourism industry.”

Not to mention the potential effects on agriculture, which relies on migrant workers. Arnold Haiman teaches national security at George Washington University. “This is the time of year when there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, that you can’t wait, it won’t happen if the crops go bad,” he says. 

The State Department says it’s giving priority to farm workers.

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