The United States government is considering extending the validity of visa security clearances for international students, scholars, and scientists, according to comments made at a recent meeting of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the US State Department, and science community stakeholders. But no definite changes have been decided on, nor a timetable set, DHS and State Department spokespeople told The Scientist yesterday, August 31.

"We're hopeful that we may be able to find a way to make changes that will balance out the national security needs with the needs of the individuals," said Bill Strassberger, spokesperson for DHS, without providing further details.

Kelly Shannon, a Bureau of Consular Affairs spokesperson, said that several improvements are being considered, including a review of visa reciprocity agreements, the mutually agreed upon number of entries into the country that visa applicants are allowed per visa.

But Shannon said the State Department urges the...

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