March 16, 2005 - ASM Sends Letter to State Department Regarding Visas Mantis Extensions

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D.
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Dr. Rice:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) the largest single life science Society with 43,000 members, applauds the extension of Visas Mantis clearance to four years, reducing the number of times a visa applicant is subject to Washington, DC interagency clearances. This change in visa policy will help to allow students and researchers to study and exchange knowledge without an overly burdensome clearance process. International scientists contribute to scientific advancement through collaborations and the exchange of knowledge. The open exchange of scientific information and the global training of scientists must remain a fundamental principle of United States policy. Educational exchanges and training of students, researchers and clinicians in microbiology and other scientific disciplines from countries around the world are critical for the advancement of biomedical science and public health. If we limit our ability to exchange scientific information and train scientists, we will severely impact our ability to fight infectious diseases, which do not respect any border.

The ASM appreciates the action of the State Department in extending the Visas Mantis clearances and other improvements that are being made in visa policy without compromising security. We look forward to working with the Departments of State and Homeland Security on visa policy issues as they affect science and public health.

James M. Tiedje, Ph.D.
President, ASM