Leading education groups have asked the State Department to re-evaluate new visa requirements they say could prevent foreign students from arriving at colleges in time for the start of the 2003-04 school year.
The new guidelines require U.S. consulate officials to scrutinize foreigners more closely, through personal interviews and security checks, before granting work or student visas that allow them to travel to the United States.
Educators fear the measure could worsen the delays experienced last summer, when tightened visa policies enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks caused many exchange students to miss the beginning of classes. The United States gave business, educational or visitor visas to all 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers.