Shutdown could impede passport processPosted on October 2, 2013 | by Tony Chau
For many students accepted into a NYU study abroad program for the spring 2014 semester yesterday, their happiness was coupled with confusion over how the shutdown would affect their passport and visa applications, and consequently fear of whether it would affect their chances of studying abroad.
At the stroke of midnight on Monday, Sept. 30, the deadline passed for congressional leaders to pass a budget for the next fiscal year, leading to the first government shutdown in 17 years. Hundreds of thousands of non-essential federal employees have been furloughed pending the approval of a federal budget for the new fiscal year.
Although many federal agencies have shut down, students worried about obtaining long stay visas from foreign countries have no reason to fret. Because the visas are issued from consulates of foreign countries, the consulates operate independently of the U.S. government and are not affected by the shutdown.
As far as obtaining or renewing a passport or obtaining a visa to study in the United States, associate vice chancellor of global programs Josh Taylor maintained that effects of the shutdown would be minimal.
“The U.S. State Department has indicated that there are no anticipated changes in fee-based passport and visa services,” Taylor said. “So at this time, we don’t expect that the shutdown will have an impact on students studying abroad, or on international students who plan on studying in New York this spring.”
The caveat is that these services receive funding from a source based on fees, but they can eventually dry out, which could be an obstacle for students in the long run.
“If the shutdown becomes protracted, the department has warned that funding for consular services could eventually be exhausted, which could in turn impact passport services,” Taylor said. “Given that, we encourage anyone who needs to obtain or renew a passport to do so sooner rather than later.”
For students like Gabriela Billini, a CAS junior who needs to renew her passport to study abroad in Tel Aviv, the sudden rush to do so is proving to be an extra headache at an already hectic time.
“All of us NYU students have enough stresses on our minds with upcoming midterms, papers and waiting for the study abroad decision altogether,” Billini said.
Like many others, Steinhardt junior Zoe Johnson, who also needs to renew her passport to study in Paris, is annoyed with the congressional impasse.
“It’s frustrating that the senators and congressmen and women themselves are virtually unaffected by this shutdown,” she said. “They continue to receive their pay, but the people who need simple services like passports and visas, and the people who carry out those services, are the ones who have to deal with our elected officials’ mess.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 2 print edition. Tony Chau is a senior editor. Email him at email@example.com.