State Dep’t. Arab Student Visa Policy to Be Terminated in Six Months

The State Department’s 20-year policy of granting diplomatic visas to students from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait wishing to study in the United States is to be terminated within six months. Rep. Joshua A. Eilberg (D.Pa.) announced.

Eilberg, chairman of the House subcommittee on immigration, citizenship and international law, said he has received “personal assurances” to this effect in a letter from Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger following Eilberg’s discussions with State Department senior officials. The Kissinger letter was not disclosed.

Describing the practice as illegal, Eilberg has been seeking an end to it since last October in his official capacity by communicating with the Departments of State and Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In a personal action to terminate it, the Congressman prepared documentation as a citizen to request a federal court injunction to stop the State Department from issuing such visas with their special privileges to students.

When he asked for termination, a statement issued by Eilberg said, “the State Department responded that the people and governments involved would be offended so nothing could be done.” According to State Department estimates, Eilberg said, some 5000 persons now in the United States would be affected by the termination. They now have A-2 visas which should only be given, Eilberg said, “to official representatives of foreign governments such as middle grade embassy employes and members of trade and military missions.”

VISA CHANGES OUTLINED

Under the Kissinger letter, these students will have their visas converted to the “F-2″ (foreign student) and “E-J” (cultural exchange student) classifications which cover the other 80,000 foreign students in the United States, Eilberg said. “This means they will have to follow the rules and regulations which govern the activities of all other foreign students and they will not have the privileges accorded them by their present status,” he said.

The students from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will now have to prove, Eilberg said, they have been accepted by an accredited school in the United States, attend classes regularly, maintain a passing grade average and file required forms from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and report their presence annually.

The State Department will issue A-2 visas to students who have already applied for them until Aug. 31, Eilberg said, but they and those who already have them, will be required to exchange them for F and J visas by Oct. 31. Extensions will be granted where a student can show that he filled out the proper forms but faced delays beyond his control, Eilberg said. But he warned that the immigration service will monitor the change-over to insure compliance and those falling to make the visa change would be faced with immediate deportation.

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