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TESOL Statement on Visas

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TESOL Issues Statement on Visas
Stresses Mutual Benefits of International Education Exchange

Two important position statements on U.S. immigration and education policy were released by TESOL, Inc., in October, 2005. These statements were presented and approved by the TESOL Affiliate Council in March, 2005, and forwarded to the TESOL Board of Directors for final approval before being published and circulated. To download these and other recent TESOL position statements, please go to www.tesol.org.

One new TESOL position statement addresses immigration policies which impact the presence of international scholars at universities and colleges in the United States. The U.S. Congress is currently discussing new immigration rules which could further complicate the visa process for students and researchers from other countries who wish to learn and teach at institutions of higher learning in the U.S. The first wave of post-9-11 policies effectively gutted international student projects at many schools, also causing a number of university-level intensive English programs to shut down. The University of Minnesota and the University of California-Berkeley were two schools where life-time ESL professionals lost jobs and, in some cases, were forced to seek re-training for other professions.

The new TESOL "Position Statement on U.S. Visa Policy" states that "the numerous changes in the U.S. visa process implemented in the name of security since the events of September 11, 2001, have created an often incoherent system with many obstacles and hurdles for international students and educators."

Among the benefits of international education exchange, according to the TESOL statement, is that "such interaction advances mutual understanding and collaboration in a global community, necessary aspects of participating in a global economy."

In order to increase access for international scholars at American universities again, TESOL calls for the U.S. government to:

1) provide a coherent visa policy

2) create a timely and transparent visa process, and

3) refine controls and procedures to efficiently focus resources on those that require special screening.

"International students and educators should be given priority, and their visa applications should be expedited," states TESOL.

The ESL MiniConference Online salutes our TESOL leaders for taking a much-needed and long-awaited public stand on these matters of crucial importance to higher learning and global awareness in the United States of America. As TESOL advocates for the interests of international exchange and cross-cultural understanding, the organization also needs the continued support of current and prospective TESOL members, including those who have been impacted by events and policies of the past few years and may have allowed their membership accounts to lapse.

Language educators, ESL/EFL professionals, and all individuals sincerely devoted to cultural and language exchange deserve to join forces and have their voices heard in the important discussions now underway regarding U.S. immigration and language education policies. To join or re-join TESOL, please visit their Web pages at www.tesol.org or call 1-888-547-3369.

If you want to be inspired by remembering some of common goals and experiences at the heart of the important work done by ESL professionals in higher education, you are also invited to listen to audio clips from Betty Azar, from her 2002 WATESOL plenary address, at: www.eslminiconf.net/azar.

Article by Robb Scott

2005 ESL MiniConference Online