US denies Chinese student a visa because father is a police officer

The US said China had also denied or unreasonably delayed accepting the return of its citizens who were subject to final orders of removal. Photo: AP

A Chinese student planning to study in the US has been denied a visa, with the embassy saying it was because the applicant’s father works for the police, according to the education company handling it.

The letter informing the student of the refusal said visa issuance for senior Chinese officials employed by four intelligence and law enforcement departments, as well as their spouses and children, had been suspended. According to the education company, the student’s father is a low-level officer.

The US embassy in Beijing did not reply to a request for comment, but Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it was “good proof” that the United States had disrupted normal personnel exchanges between the two countries for political reasons, which was not conducive to good China-US relations.

“In accordance with the US logic, should China deny visas to US intelligence and law enforcement personnel and their families?” Hua said on Thursday, adding that China hoped the US would recognise its mistakes and help allow normal personnel exchanges.

The letter was posted on WeChat by Beijing Gewai Education Consulting on Thursday morning, showing that the visa application had been “temporarily discontinued” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

It said China had denied or unreasonably delayed accepting the return of its citizens who were subject to final orders of removal from the United States, and that normal visa issuance would resume if China complied with US requests on that matter.

Applications for certain types of visas were suspended for officials ranked deputy director and above with China’s National Immigration Administration, and their spouses and children under 21, along with officials at the National Supervisory Commission (China’s highest anti-corruption agency), Ministry of State Security (the top intelligence organ) and Ministry of Public Security (the top law enforcement organ) and their spouses and children under 30, it stated.

It is unclear how many people could be affected by the suspension, because the numbers employed by the four departments are not made public.

“This is the first time I received such a refusal notification, ” Qiao Xiangdong, the owner of the consultancy, said, adding that the student, whose father works for the public security department, had received offers from nearly 10 American universities to major in computer science.

“How can the child of a grass-roots police officer pose a threat to the national security of the US?” Qiao said.

The refusal comes days after the US embassy and consulates in China resumed visa applications for students, although restrictions on those with a “hi-tech” background remained in place, according to a senior US official.

In recent years, the US has introduced policies making it more difficult for Chinese nationals with STEM backgrounds to live and work in the United States, and stepped up restrictive visa policies. More than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers had visas revoked following a ruling last May aimed at Chinese nationals suspected of having ties to the military.

According to the International Education Exchange, Chinese students accounted for 35 per cent of all the international students in the US in the 2019-20 academic year.

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