Security Clearances Travel Advisory
When making plans to travel abroad, Berkeley International Office would like you to be aware that we are seeing an increasing number of our international students and scholars being subjected to security clearances as a part of the visa application process at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. While these clearances are usually intended for individuals working in areas that are described as sensitive fields related to U.S. security (such as chemistry, biological sciences and physics), and may focus on nationals of certain countries, the extent and scope of these clearances can sometimes go beyond these areas.
In addition, it is our observation that these clearances can take between 60-90 days, and even longer in some cases. Should you be subject to a security clearance, you will have to wait until it is completed before you can return to the U.S. It is important for you to know that it is our experience that no amount of intervention on the part of the university will speed up the unpredictable security clearance processing time.
You also need to consider the fact that there are often increased wait times for visa appointments because United States consulates/embassies may be closed for the holidays (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and other host country national holidays).
We do not want to discourage travel, but we do urge you to factor in the possibility of these delays when making your plans, and to consult with your academic advisers, principal investigators or faculty hosts regarding the feasibility of your absence before making a final decision to travel abroad at this time.