Resolve Bangladeshi students’ visa crisis

Momen urges US envoy

Diplomatic Correspondent

8 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen urged the US ambassador to address the visa difficulties being faced by a large number of Bangladeshi students. 

If the problems with finding schedule for visa interview at the US Embassy in Dhaka are not solved, many applicants may lose admission and scholarship due to the delay, he said.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller called on Abdul Momen on Thursday at the ministry.

The US ambassador informed the minister that many interview slots had to be cancelled due to the lockdown situation, and assured him of doing the best to ensure that all student visa applicants get interview slots on a priority basis once the lockdown is over, so that they can join their academic sessions in US universities on time.   

Appreciating US President Joe Biden’s recent announcement to enhance the admission of refugees in the US to 62,500 in 2021 and 125,000 in 2022, the foreign minister stated that the US may consider accepting a good number of forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh for filling up a large portion of these new numbers.

He also expressed optimism that the US as the largest humanitarian donor for the humanitarian operations for the forcibly displaced Rohingyas camped in Bangladesh will continue to provide necessary assistance for Rohingyas including those now settled in Bhashan Char.

The US ambassador said that during the upcoming launch of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) on May 18, 2021 in Geneva, the US is expected to pledge again for large contribution to the humanitarian operation for Rohingyas.

Abdul Momen also assured the US side on Bangladesh’s cooperation on the ongoing investigation on the genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar, as reinitiated by the Biden Administration.

The main point of discussion was about the process of acquiring AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the US to meet up the growing needs in Bangladesh to address the present shortfall.

The minister underscored that while the immediate need of Bangladesh is around 4 million doses of vaccine, the US government may consider providing 20 million AstraZeneca vaccine shots to Bangladesh from its stock.

Miller assured that his government is sincerely working on the proposal, though this is difficult to predict any time frame at this moment.

He also informed Momen that the US is yet to provide any AstraZeneca vaccine to India, and hopefully Bangladesh will get the vaccine at the same time India gets.

The Bangladesh foreign minister emphasised on an early decision.

Abdul Momen also welcomed US President Joe Biden’s declaration to support Intellectual Property Waiver for vaccines in the WTO, and expressed optimism that this will enable developing countries, including Bangladesh, to produce US vaccines in the near future.

The minister and the US envoy also discussed about the ways and means of bolstering bilateral cooperation, specially in the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation including possible mutual engagement before and during the COP26 of the UNFCCC scheduled in November 2021 in Glasgow, as well as through mutual support in different elections in the UN system including in the UN Human Rights Council.