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University officials and education experts said Thursday that they welcome new federal measures introduced earlier this week regarding student visas and that they expect the changes to help foreign students and scholars at Yale.

Under the new policy, student visas will be issued up to 120 days before students are slated to begin, and students will be allowed to enter the country up to 45 days prior to the start of classes, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Tuesday in a joint press conference with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Currently, student visas are issued up to 90 days before the start of classes and students may enter the country up to 30 days before school starts.

Yale President Richard Levin said he thinks the changes will be beneficial.

“Those would be outstanding improvements and, I think, very helpful,” Levin said. “There are still a few things that could be improved. One would be changing the requirement that students on a visa that expires have to leave the country in order to renew their visa. We would also like to see a lengthening of the maximum period of a visa for students from China.”

Students from most countries can obtain a visa that has the same duration as their program of study, Levin said, but Chinese students are granted a one-year visa that must be renewed.

The announced changes will contribute to further educational cooperation between China and the United States, said Chu Maoming, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“China and the United States have very good cooperation in the field of education,” Chu said. “Any kind of reform regarding visa applications which is beneficial to further cooperation between China and the United States is welcome.”

The new measures will allow students from abroad to adjust to life in the United States more easily, said Amy Scott, a federal relations officer for the Association of American Universities.

“It gives students the opportunity to come here, find an apartment, get a driver’s license, basically get themselves prepared for their daily life in the United States,” Scott said.

Yale Director of Federal Relations Richard Jacob said that although the reforms are not revolutionary, they will prove favorable for students and scholars.

“Our view is that any changes, even incremental improvements like these, are helpful, and we welcome them,” Jacob said.

Visa reform measures are part of a larger effort that places an emphasis on students, spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department Angela Aggeler said.

“At each of our 210 visa-issuing posts, we have made students a priority,” Aggeler said. “We want to move them as close to the front of the queue as possible so that they’re not late for classes while waiting for a visa application.”

The announcement follows the U.S. University Presidents Summit on International Education in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, where President Bush said it is in the interest of the United States to improve the visa process, according to a State Department transcript.

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