Chinese students hit by US visa rejections amid tension

Chinese officials appealed to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to drop the visa restrictions when she visited in July, according to The Paper, a Shanghai online news outlet.The policy is necessary to “protect US national security interests", the US Embassy in Beijing said in a statement. It said the policy is a response to “some abuses of the visa process” and is “narrowly targeted”. More than 85,000 visas for Chinese students have been approved over the past four months, according to the embassy. “The numbers show clearly that the United States stands ready to issue visas to all those who are qualified — including Chinese students and scholars,” it said. China is the biggest source of foreign students in the United States, according to US government data. The number fell 20 per cent in 2020 from the previous year but at 380,000 was nearly double that of second-ranked India. An engineer at a state-owned aircraft manufacturer said he was turned down for a visa to accompany his wife, a visiting scholar in California studying pediatric cancer. The engineer, who would give only his surname, Huang, has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China’s northeast. It is one of seven schools Chinese news reports say are associated with visa rejections because they are affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. “I was insulted,” Huang said. “That I graduated from this school means I am a spy? What’s the difference between this and racism?” Huang said his wife's fellowship was two to three years, but she will cut that to one, “sacrificing her career” to avoid being away from their two children for too long. “It’s a pretty big impact on individuals when one country fights with another,” Huang said. Rejection letters received by several students cited Trump's order but gave no details of the decision. However, some students said they received rejections immediately after being asked which university they attended. Wang, the finance student, said he obtained a visa, but the US Embassy called later and said it was revoked. Wang graduated from the Beijing Institute of Technology, another university associated with visa rejections due to its connection with the industry ministry. Others include Beijing Aerospace University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Harbin Engineering University and Northwestern Polytechnical University. Graduates of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications also say they have been rejected. Five Chinese scientists at universities in California and Indiana were charged last year with lying about possible military connections on visa applications. Those charges were dropped in July after the Justice Department said an FBI report indicated such offences often had no connection to technology theft. The Chinese government complained in August that three students who had visas were refused entry into the United States at the Houston airport after military training photos were found in their phones. Beijing “strongly deplores and rejects” the policy and appealed to the US government to make changes, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. A group that says it represents more than 2,000 students and scholars has announced plans for a lawsuit asking a court to throw out or narrow the restrictions. At Washington University in St Louis, a "handful of student visas” were affected, according to Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs. Students can start the semester online or wait until next year, Dirks said in an email. “Should they continue to face challenges, the university will work with them so they can complete their program online,” Dirks said. Monica Ma, 23, said she was turned down for a US visa to complete a master's degree in information management at Carnegie Mellon University. The graduate of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications said after spending a year in Australia working on her degree, she needs to attend classes in person at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh because they no longer are taught online.

Chinese students hit by US visa rejections amid tension

Chinese officials appealed to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to drop the visa restrictions when she visited in July, according to The Paper, a Shanghai online news outlet.

The policy is necessary to “protect US national security interests", the US Embassy in Beijing said in a statement. It said the policy is a response to “some abuses of the visa process” and is “narrowly targeted”.

More than 85,000 visas for Chinese students have been approved over the past four months, according to the embassy.

“The numbers show clearly that the United States stands ready to issue visas to all those who are qualified — including Chinese students and scholars,” it said.

China is the biggest source of foreign students in the United States, according to US government data. The number fell 20 per cent in 2020 from the previous year but at 380,000 was nearly double that of second-ranked India.

An engineer at a state-owned aircraft manufacturer said he was turned down for a visa to accompany his wife, a visiting scholar in California studying pediatric cancer.

The engineer, who would give only his surname, Huang, has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China’s northeast. It is one of seven schools Chinese news reports say are associated with visa rejections because they are affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“I was insulted,” Huang said. “That I graduated from this school means I am a spy? What’s the difference between this and racism?”

Huang said his wife's fellowship was two to three years, but she will cut that to one, “sacrificing her career” to avoid being away from their two children for too long.

“It’s a pretty big impact on individuals when one country fights with another,” Huang said.

Rejection letters received by several students cited Trump's order but gave no details of the decision. However, some students said they received rejections immediately after being asked which university they attended.

Wang, the finance student, said he obtained a visa, but the US Embassy called later and said it was revoked.

Wang graduated from the Beijing Institute of Technology, another university associated with visa rejections due to its connection with the industry ministry. Others include Beijing Aerospace University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Harbin Engineering University and Northwestern Polytechnical University.

Graduates of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications also say they have been rejected.

Five Chinese scientists at universities in California and Indiana were charged last year with lying about possible military connections on visa applications. Those charges were dropped in July after the Justice Department said an FBI report indicated such offences often had no connection to technology theft.

The Chinese government complained in August that three students who had visas were refused entry into the United States at the Houston airport after military training photos were found in their phones.

Beijing “strongly deplores and rejects” the policy and appealed to the US government to make changes, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

A group that says it represents more than 2,000 students and scholars has announced plans for a lawsuit asking a court to throw out or narrow the restrictions.

At Washington University in St Louis, a "handful of student visas” were affected, according to Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs.

Students can start the semester online or wait until next year, Dirks said in an email.

“Should they continue to face challenges, the university will work with them so they can complete their program online,” Dirks said.

Monica Ma, 23, said she was turned down for a US visa to complete a master's degree in information management at Carnegie Mellon University.

The graduate of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications said after spending a year in Australia working on her degree, she needs to attend classes in person at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh because they no longer are taught online.