WASHINGTON, D.C.— OSTP Director John Marburger told the URA Council of Presidents that “the science
of the nation is suffering” because of the backlog on visa applications for visiting scientists from other nations.
Marburger, chief science advisor to President Bush, said he has met with Secretary of State Colin Powell
and National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice, and “they agree this is a problem, an issue that needs to be
addressed.” Marburger also said “Congress is very interested” in the situation, a motion firmly seconded by
Congressman Sherwood Boehlert of New York’s 23rd District, chair of the House Science Committee.
“You better believe we’re paying close attention to the visa problems,” Boehlert said, answering a question
from the floor. “We’re very mindful of the situation…You should expect and demand that we pay attention…
Quite frankly we need to do a lot of things to speed up the process.”
Fermilab director Michael Witherell, citing a memo outlining new DOE-mandated identification requirements
for all visiting scientists at the lab, put the issue in a context of “trying to preserve the academic research
“It’s much broader than just the labs, it applies to all universities,” Witherell said. “If [researchers] do get into
the country, how do we have them operate freely on the site with tools they may themselves have built?”
Boehlert placed the visa problem on a level with what he regards as two other primary challenges for
Said Boehlert: “If we don’t think in the long term, if we don’t address K-12 science education, if we don’t
address the visa problems—boy, are we going to suffer as a nation.”