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Opinion: Visa policy changes help international students

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Qing Dai’s visa Credit: Qing Dai / Lantern reporter

Qing Dai’s visa
Credit: Qing Dai / Lantern reporter

When I woke up on Nov. 10, I opened my WeChat app. One of the first things I noticed was the new American visa policy for China. As an international student and also a Chinese woman, I know how important it is to me, both extending travel visas’ length from a month to 10 years with multiple entry, and student visas from lasting one year to lasting five.

This summer, I helped my parents apply for a travel visa to come to the United States for my graduation ceremony. 

It was easy, because I had already done it what felt like thousands of times for my F-1 student visa. 

For the one-year student F-1 visas, I have to renew it every year when I go back to China for summer vacation. The process is like when I first applied for an F-1 student visa, except that I do not have to meet a visa officer. Otherwise, it all looks the same. I go to a website where I can apply for a U.S. visa. Then, I fill out a form with my personal information, even if it didn’t change since I first came to study in the U.S. 

While it’s not really convenient, who can finish a U.S. visa application in 10 minutes? I do, and you know, practice makes perfect.

For my parents, I filled out two U.S. visa applications, and then they went to meet a visa officer in Shanghai, because it was a travel visa they applied for. 

If a Chinese citizen applies for a travel visa, they have to meet the visa officers every time they apply for it.

Since President Barack Obama issued an executive order in January 2012, travel visas are not difficult to get and my parents successfully got the pass to attend my graduation ceremony. 

On that day, my mom said to me, “I wish I could visit more times when you are studying there, because I really miss you.”

I was moved in that moment, because I know how hard it is for them to visit me.

First of all, they do not speak English. If they want to apply for a U.S. visa, they have to go through the application process that requires English. Therefore, I am the only one who can help them do the application. But people might say, “If they want to visit you, you can just help them, because you already can do it in 10 minutes.” For me, I am very willing to do it, but for my parents, especially Chinese parents, they are not willing to ask their children do things for them. Asking me to apply a U.S. visa every time when they want to visit me is not a good thing. They feel bad, because they are afraid of it might take up too much of my time.

International students study in the U.S. because they believe they can get a better education here. They make the decision, but it does not mean they do not miss their family in the other country. In some ways, I believe they miss their family members a lot. As strangers in a strange land, it is important to get a visit from family members sometimes, because they make you feel like you are back home. 

Therefore, I do not care if some people say that it might increase the number of immigrants from China. All I know is now it’ll be easier for my parents to visit me, which is a one-time application for a U.S. visa that allows them to visit me anytime, as often as they want, for 10 years. 

There will be no worries to take up my time and I can see my parents more than once a year.

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