U.S. Embassy in Seoul halts special visa program for colleges
SEOUL — The U.S. Embassy cancelled a program Friday that let some South Korean students bypass an interview before getting a tourist-class U.S. visa.
The University Referral Program applied to South Korean students who were going to the United States but not studying there, said Jason Rebholz, embassy spokesman. After Congress revamped visa rules last summer, most similar programs at U.S. embassies worldwide were cancelled, he said.
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul received special permission to extend the program here through this summer. Rebholz said the embassy understands the end of the program will inconvenience students who have not made timely applications for non-immigrant visas.
“Unfortunately, we must end this special program in order to devote all our limited resources to offering the best, most efficient service to the widest range of our applicants,” Rebholz said.
About 97 universities were in the program, he said. Figures weren’t available on the number of students who typically received this type of visa.
Seoul National University was calling students who applied for the program to notify them of the change, according to the Joonang Ilbo. Last year, about 1,900 students applied for a visa under the program, the paper stated.
A representative of the Student Service Center at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies said students are aware of the changes but it’s up to individual students to schedule interview appointments.
Jennifer Kleckner contributed to this report.