Published: 22nd August 2020
India to tighten visa norms for students, researchers associated with Chinese think tanks
Many organisations across the globe, backed by China, sponsor visas for think tanks, academics and research entities, among others
As travel restrictions are lifted gradually, countries are granting visas to students to carry on their studies or research. India on the other hand, decided to scrutinise the visas awarded to people associated with Chinese think tanks — this move was based on the interest of national security.
The decision was taken after some suspicious activities were noticed involving certain individuals linked with Chinese think tanks. The security and intelligence agencies have been asked to do background check of people who get sponsorships from various Chinese think tanks and advocacy groups before the issuances of their visas. Indian intelligence agencies have alerted the government that China has set up various think tanks as part of its extensive outreach programme. These have been set up with an objective to influence people in countries of strategic interest. These think tanks could be used to identify and recruit people for espionage, said a senior officer with an intelligence agency.
Many organisations across the globe, backed by China, sponsor visas for policymakers, think tanks, political parties, upcoming leaders, corporates, academics and research entities, among others. The agencies have prepared an elaborate list of groups and individuals who are under scanner. The government has shared the list with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The United States, after asking students to leave the country last month, has now resumed issuing visas from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata from August 17. The fall semester is about to begin from next month and thousands of Indian students who got admission to US colleges have been waiting for the process to begin.
Students travelling to Schengen countries will also be able to start their educational endeavours abroad as the countries have started reopening the student visa application services for candidates from other countries. "Finally, the wait is over! Delighted to announce that our visa service is now open for receiving applications for the short-stay and long-stay student visa category," Emmanuel Lenin, French Ambassador to India, tweeted on August 20. Italy, France and Germany are the hotspots for Indian student and they have opened up after almost a five-month break due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Australia, on the other hand, has lost a lot of foreign students this past year and are now trying to get back the students base to where it was. According to data from the country’s Department of Home Affairs, Australian offshore student visa numbers dropped by a third (33.5%) in the 2019-2020 financial year compared to the previous year, with an 88% drop in applications in May alone, reported The Pie News. "Australia overall has been containing the virus much better than most other countries. My Indian friends say that’s a plus point, but the borders stayed closed too long,” said IEAA CEO Phil Honeywood reportedly. The largest number of deferments came from China, with an increase of 35,615 in deferments from 2019 to 2020, followed by India (1,924), reported the agency.