The Trump administration reportedly has plans to make the process of getting a US visa involve more paperwork and shorter stays for Chinese citizens looking to come to the US to study high-tech or to work in “sensitive” areas.
Beginning on June 11th, US consular officers will be free to limit the validity of visas of some Chinese applicants on a case-by-case basis, an anonymous State Department official told the Associated Press. According to the official, instructions have been sent out to US embassies and consulates to limit Chinese graduate students to one-year visas if they are studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing.
Meanwhile, those Chinese citizens working as researchers or managers for companies that the US Commerce Department lists as “entities requiring higher scrutiny,” will need special clearance from multiple US agencies before they can be granted a visa, a change which could likely add months to the visa process.
These changes follow yesterday’s announcement from the White House about its plans to push forward with slapping a 25% tariff on $50 billion of imported Chinese technology goods in what it says is an attempt to “protect domestic technology and intellectual property from certain discriminatory and burdensome trade practices by China.”
The Trump administration forecasted this new visa move last December in a national security strategy document which called for visa procedures to be tightened for some countries in order to “reduce economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors.” Back in February, FBI Director Chris Wray ignited controversy after calling Chinese students part of a “whole of society” threat to the US.
The move is certain to be a controversial one. Some will say that the effort aimed at countering China’s use of students, academics, and experts as spies is long overdue, while others will argue that making it more difficult for some China’s brightest minds to move to the US will only end up hurting American innovation and reducing China’s “brain drain.”
Another great move! Imposing limits on some Chinese visas may seem harsh,but it’s necessary. #China poses unprecedented threat. Student & academic visas are another weapon they use against us in their campaign to steal & cheat their way to world dominance https://t.co/BaEaQug0j3
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 30, 2018
Trump's proposed restrictions on visas for Chinese STEM researchers and students will only serve to push talent back to China. From my recent intvw with @MaraHvistendahl https://t.co/ESeeSS9a9m pic.twitter.com/JKUgHYHRzI
— Adam Minter (@AdamMinter) May 30, 2018
Either way, the move is sure to be another one that angers Beijing. On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry responded to the report by stating that “China and the US should take more active measures to facilitate personnel exchange and create better conditions for exchanges and cooperation in various fields, instead of acting in the exact opposite.”