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Visa Snafus Stifle Standards Input

Photonics.com
Jan 2005
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 -- Concerns that technical experts from China have been denied entry visas to the US for attendance at technical committee meetings of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has prompted action by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI.

The institute has launched outreach efforts at the US Department of State to investigate recent reports that entry visas were denied for some, but not all, Chinese delegates to IEC and ISO technical meetings. Though information does indicate that obtaining US entry visas has become more difficult for delegates from the People’s Republic of China, it is unclear whether the problem is arising within the Chinese system or within the US consular offices in China, ANSI said.

"Reports indicate that there is a perceived concern on the part of the Chinese that the US is intentionally denying visas to its national delegates," the institute said in a statement.

"ANSI is very concerned and feels that the negative perceptions must be dealt with promptly and effectively," said Gary Kushnier, ANSI vice president of international policy.

David Karmol, ANSI vice president of public policy and government affairs, said, "We do not believe there is any intentional effort on the part of the US government to deny visas to the Chinese or any other nation’s citizens."

ANSI said its staff is in communication with State Department officials who understand the standards process -- and the implications of US participation in international standards -- to work to improve the process for standards participants to obtain entry visas to attend standards meetings in the US.

A simple reporting mechanism is being developed by ANSI to gather information about difficulties in obtaining visas for technical committee delegates; this data will be forwarded by ANSI directly to State Department personnel who can investigate the problem or expedite the issuance of a visa.

ANSI said it is also developing materials to assist meeting sponsors and technical committee leaders in their communication with potential meeting participants from outside the US on visa processing requirements, tips and time considerations.

"It is important that the US not come to be viewed as an unacceptable site for international standards meetings," said Kushnier. "This will not only hinder the process to develop globally relevant standards, but it also undermines ANSI’s ability to effectively represent the US viewpoint in technical committee deliberations."

Karmol added, "From a practical perspective, to the extent that the US becomes an unattractive destination for meetings of the IEC and ISO, our national delegates will be forced to incur higher travel expenses should more meetings be scheduled outside the United States."

For more information, visit: www.ansi.org



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