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Travel ban keeps neuroscientists from attending US conference

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The Trump administration’s travel ban against passport holders from seven countries is causing problems for some travelers to the U.S. Most recently, it prevented invited speakers from attending this year’s Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

Dr. Sepiedeh Keshavarzi told NPR that it was once her dream to do research in the United States. She was one of the speakers due to address approximately 25,000 brain scientists at the meeting, but she was denied a visa. She was also denied one last year.

Although she holds an Iranian passport, Keshavarzi is a lawful permanent resident of Australia. She had hoped the travel ban wouldn’t apply. It did.

Instead of an in-person presentation on the neurons that track the body’s motion, she was forced to send a prerecorded PowerPoint presentation to be shown at the meeting.

Keshavarzi is about to enter the job market. She won’t be looking for a job in the United States.

Unfortunately, she’s hardly alone. In fact, the Society for Neuroscience has been forced to respond to the visa problems that are now common among international research scientists. This year, it put a program in place called “Science Knows No Borders,” which was aimed at helping Keshavarzi and other scientists present their work without physically attending the conference.

According to an informal survey of the Society, virtually everyone knew at least one cognitive scientist whose visa had been denied or delayed, keeping them from attending.

Moreover, many scientists didn’t even try applying for visas because they come from countries affected by the travel ban.

Some scientists have had to get third-country passports in order to be allowed into the U.S. That effectively keeps them from seeking any long-term position in the States.

What can you do about visa delays and denials?

The U.S. has long been known as a haven for peaceful and scientific interests. Unfortunately, the current administration’s blanket travel ban on travelers from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya, North Korea and, in part, Venezuela, threatens our reputation in that regard. So do long delays in visa processing.

There may be very little people from the banned countries can do to overcome the travel ban, but you should check with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney to determine if an exception is available in your case.

Whether your country is part of the travel ban or not, allow as much extra time as possible when applying for a visa to the U.S., Work with an immigration lawyer to ensure your application is as complete and correct as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Yew Immigration Law Group has years of experience helping people come to the U.S. for conferences, jobs, family immigration and more.