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It is an enterprise of undeniable importance to science round the world. But scientific exchange with the United States comes weighted with visa requirements that are proving nightmarish for thousands of foreign researchers. Many leave for holiday only to suffer long delays for security clearance when they return.

In this article, Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy looks at a fresh crisis facing scientific exchange. Starting in August, almost every visa applicant from a non-waiver country — including India, China and six other top suppliers of international students to the country — must be interviewed by a US consular official. The long waits this will cause could be stretched further by an inadequate security information system.

With President George W. Bush proposing a new layer to security clearance, many feel the problem could get even worse. Foreign researchers already in the United States could decide to forego international conferences, making their contribution the poorer. And for young, ambitious scientists from abroad, the move might seem not worth the risk.

Link to article in Science

Reference: Science, 301, 437 (2003)

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