Although it has been a common practice in the past, international students from around the world no longer will be able to renew their visas in Mexico and Canada, according to a State Department notice.
Yale students and officials said this policy will mostly affect graduate students and scholars.
According to the State Department Web site, “Visa processing posts in Canada will not accept non-immigrant visa applications from persons currently resident, working or studying in the United States.”
Gang Wang, the associate director of Yale’s Office of International Students and Scholars, said the information OISS has received so far has not been completely clear.
Gang said students and scholars often make appointments to renew their visas in Canada and Mexico because it is difficult to obtain visas in far-off countries in short periods of time.
“It’s very convenient for students and scholars [to go to Canada or Mexico],” Gang said. “In general, this could affect people from China, India, and from other countries pretty far [away.] — [It could be] hard to get a visa in their home country in a short period of time. I don’t foresee too many people would be affected.”
Canadian and Mexican citizens will still be able to renew their visas in their home countries.
Some students who had already set up appointments may still be able to renew their visas, but Gang said OISS is advising students to call and confirm first.
“Actually yesterday we had a scholar who [had] scheduled an appointment in Canada,” Gang said. “He went there and successfully obtained an H1 [work] visa.”
The length of a student or scholar’s visa depends on the country of origin, Gang said. For example, most Chinese visas are for six months, so students who came to Yale in the fall would need to renew their visas during the winter vacation.
“It really depends on which country they’re from,” Gang said. “For some people they only get a visa once, and they can travel as many times as they want.”
Aakanksha Pande ’02 of India said the policy will affect graduate students and scholars more than undergraduates.
“If you’re an Indian student undergrad at Yale, this should not affect you because you were given a four-year visa,” Pande said. “If you’re like me a senior and applying for a job-related visa or a grad school visa, it should be more difficult, because usually you would go to Canada. Now you have to go to Europe or back home.”
Qinan Tang ’03 said she was not worried about renewing her own visa in China but said the new policy would affect those on work visas who often renew in Mexico.
“For some scholars, for those who are on H1 visa, that’s a real problem. For F1 [student] visa holders, we actually get visas renewed pretty easily,” Tang said. “I know if I go back to Beijing right now, I just need to submit some forms and my visa will come back automatically.”
There is still legislation pending in Congress about visa regulation, Richard Jacob, the associate vice president for federal relations, said. But he said he is unaware of any current changes that would make it harder for international students to re-enter the country after winter break.