Border closures and travel restrictions imposed as measures to restraint the spread of COVID-19 pandemic have left many students across the world in a long wait for responses over their visa requests.
Due to visa delays, students from different corners of the world cannot attend university classes physically, but only remotely this year. In some cases, they have to face the problem of the time difference or even poor internet connections, making their access to lectures more difficult, Erudera College News reports.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in March in Europe, international students have constantly been expressing indignation over Germany visa applications postponement. In Mexico and Iran, the problem continues to be present as the appointments for master degree students have not commenced yet, even seven months later.
Valentina Sanchez from Puebla, Mexico, told Deutsche Welle that students could not reach embassies at all, but when they get to contact them, embassies do not provide information when they reopen for appointments.
Students Address Concerns Through Social Media
In an effort to find solutions to their problems, international students expected to pursue studies in Germany this academic year, have been using social media to address their concerns.
Thousands of master students from India, Nigeria, Colombia, Bangladesh and Turkey with scholarships from German universities have joined the social media campaign under the hashtag #EducationIsNotTourism.
These students have been delivering messages to embassies, ambassadors, the German Foreign Ministry as well as to German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, asking for more clarity over visa appointments. In some cases, embassies contacted them and started to offer solutions.
A German Federal Foreign Office spokesperson told Erudera College News back in September, the Federal Foreign Office and its missions abroad are working towards issuing visas to persons exempt from current restrictions on entry to Germany, including visas for international students who are unable to follow courses from abroad.
“Foreign students who can prove that their studies cannot be carried out entirely from abroad, for example, due to compulsory attendance, can enter the country to begin their studies,” Research Minister Anja Karliczek said in August.
However, in Mexico and Iran, students claimed they had not received any response so far, despite the emails and tweets.
“I received a university offer in July and immediately tried to get an appointment, but got no reply. I have written 15 emails since then, and I have had no response, not even a yes or a no. I don’t know why it’s so hard.” Mehran Mirmiri, 27, from Tehran said.
Visa Delays Bring Other Problems for Students
Despite being unable to leave their countries and head to Germany for higher education, visa delays have triggered other troubles for students as well. Most of them had to set aside €10,000 in locked accounts as evidence to the German government that they can financially support themselves, an amount of money not allowed to be touched.
In addition to this, the official language certificates proving the level of English language, are time-limited and cannot be used permanently.
In an earlier statement, the German Foreign Ministry said that the ministry is working to assist students in receiving visas, adding that a total of 310 academic visas have been issued during the third quarter of the year in Mexico City and Tehran.