Wetenschap - 13 september 2001

Lengthy procedures delay visas for international students

Lengthy procedures delay visas for international students

International students coming to Wageningen this year encountered exceptional delays in getting a visa. The root of the problem seems to be the amount of time needed for bureaucratic procedures.

From the international agricultural college Larenstein the news came that the delay is due to the fact that the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) sends the information needed to grant visas to Dutch embassies by telex. However, IND was not informed that the embassies had got rid of their telexes and that all communication would henceforth be by fax and e-mail.

While this would interfere with communication, Mout Bredero, spokeswoman for IND, responded that while 'this could be the case some place or other,' she believes that the telex was already phased out a while ago in most places. As far as IND is concerned the real stumbling block is the length of procedures. Currently IND, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working jointly on a proposal to shorten procedures. This will be presented in the Dutch parliament at the end of this month.

This move comes in response to a letter from the Dutch association of universities, VSNU, calling on both ministers to bring an end to the time-consuming procedures. The draft plan includes a proposal to shorten the visa application procedure to a three months maximum. In addition, the bottlenecks need to be identified and more use of e-mail communication is advised. Bredero added, however, that the problem does not only lie in crossed lines between IND and the Dutch embassies, but also within countries. "Sometimes the documents required are hard to get: in Nigeria for example it is hard to find a birth certificate."

Pauline Tichelaar of the central student administration desk in Wageningen regrets the inconvenience caused to students and confirms that there are various causes for delay; much depends on both embassies and countries involved. China, for example, is almost synonymous with delay.

If you have personal experience of visa delays or other problems Wb would like to hear from you. E-mail: redacteuren@cereales.nl

Joris Tielens