Chinese science and technology students are no longer welcome in the United States

Visa delays, which are longer than before, and in-depth reviews of cases make it difficult for them to access US universities.

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Two Chinese students in a US foster home in Murrieta, California, March 2016. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

Ximeng Huang did not have a good summer: until early October, stricken by stress, she waited to get her visa for the United States. "I had already paid $ 20,000 (18 000 euros) from my program and took my plane ticket. " After six weeks (instead of two normally), this student living in Beijing got her precious sesame, not without having had to provide the US consulate additional details about her background and the interface design master she was preparing to follow in California.

"I had to give them the CV of all my teachers, if she annoys. I knew that the process could be more complicated for sensitive subjects, such as semiconductors, but for industrial design … " All of his fellow Chinese students enrolled in the same master's degree have had similar difficulties.

Collateral damage of the trade war between Beijing and Washington, Chinese students in science and technology are no longer welcome. Since June 2018, the procedure has evolved: student files in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) are examined in more detail. They are now only entitled to a one-year renewable visa, instead of five years.

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The disciplines most affected are those of advanced technologies that come under the "Made in China 2025" program, through which China intends to catch up with the technological gap on the West. Haunted by the fear of technology theft, the United States almost shut the door of certain sectors to students, such as aeronautics or semiconductors.

According to the Financial Times, Donald Trump would have even considered banning Chinese access to American universities, before his advisers dissuaded him. Indeed, foreign students – a third of whom are Chinese – represent a windfall of $ 39 billion for the American education system.

More restrictive conditions

Many students fear that the US job market will close after their very expensive studies in the country. Moreover, the granting of the visa "H-1B", which allows STEM students to stay working for three years in the United States, has tightened. For more than a year, the procedure has become more complex, and the file processing time has been lengthened, to the point of preventing many hires.


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