Britain screens foreign scientists

The British government has added new requirements for visa applicants, which some say will restrict the flow of talented researchers into the country. All visa applicants from outside of European Economic Area and Switzerland who want to study toward a masters or PhD in fields like biology, botany and veterinary sciences, to name a few, will have to obtain an additional certification called the linkurl:Academic Technology Approval Scheme;http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?

By | November 8, 2007

The British government has added new requirements for visa applicants, which some say will restrict the flow of talented researchers into the country. All visa applicants from outside of European Economic Area and Switzerland who want to study toward a masters or PhD in fields like biology, botany and veterinary sciences, to name a few, will have to obtain an additional certification called the linkurl:Academic Technology Approval Scheme;http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1186674486859 (ATAS). The British government web site calls the measure a "light touch scheme which should not inconvenience students." The aim, according to the site, was to "stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." Some fear that the added measure will detract from Britain's ability to attract the best researchers, according to a story published in linkurl:The Chronicle of Higher Education.;http://chronicle.com/news/article/3390/britain-begins-new-security-checks-for-some-foreign-students But the website says the "majority of ATAS applications will be processed within ten working days from the date we receive them." It may take only ten days to clear most applicants. But how long will it take to clear those applications that raise red flags? And what are the criteria for raising those flags? I checked the website and didn't see answers to these questions. In the US, which carries out its own background checks prior to awarding visas, the wait for those who get flagged can be pretty long. One foreign born US researcher linkurl:I wrote about;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53418/ spent more than a year waiting for clearance.

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