New US visa rules in place since September 11, 2001, have led to long waiting times for researchers engaged in sensitive technologies, congressional investigators told the House Science Committee yesterday (February 25). The average waiting time for a visa for such researchers—known as a Visa Mantis—is 67 days, investigators said.

“Because different agencies, bureaus, posts, and field offices have different databases and systems, cases can get delayed or lost at different points in the process,” said Jess Ford, director of International Affairs and Trade for the General Accounting Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress. “Clearly, there were cases when applications got lost, they were sitting on someone's desk. The process just had places where there could be gaps that good technology could overcome.”

The new visa rules have led to a number of anecdotes of problems with legitimate entry among foreign students. In November, two Chinese-born University of...

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