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Visa Issuance Problems Hinder Standards Participation

ANSI working with State Department officials to resolve matter

Washington, DC, Jan 04, 2005

Concerns that technical experts from China have been denied entry visas to the United States for attendance at technical committee meetings of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has prompted action from ANSI.

The Institute's international policy team, working with the public policy and government affairs staff, has launched outreach efforts to the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Consular offices in China.

Reports indicate that there is a perceived concern on the part of the Chinese that the U.S. is intentionally denying visas to its national delegates.

“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.

“However, we do not believe that there is any intentional effort on the part of the U.S. Government to deny visas to the Chinese, or any other nation’s citizens,” added David Karmol, ANSI vice president of public policy and government affairs.

At present, three complementary actions are underway to address the issuance of visas problem:

1. ANSI staff are in direct communication with State Department officials who understand the standards process – and the implications of U.S. participation in international standards – to work to improve the process for standards participants to obtain entry visas to attend standards meetings in the U.S.

2. 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 and / or expedite the issuance of a visa.

3. guidance materials are being developed by ANSI to assist meeting sponsors and Technical Committee leaders in their communication with potential meeting participants from outside the U.S. on visa processing requirements, tips and time considerations. The information resources will include materials from the State Department and links to various resources and checklists that will simplify the job of communicating correct and useful information related to obtaining a visa.

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

“And from a practical perspective,” added Karmol, “to the extent that the U.S. becomes an unattractive destination for meetings of the IEC and ISO, our national delegates will be forced to incur higher travel expenses should more future meetings be scheduled to occur outside of the United States.”

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