US Relaxes Visa Rules for Pak Students

Washington, DC: The US authorities have started helping Pakistani students who are admitted to various American institutions but are unable to come because of visa restrictions.
This was disclosed by Dr Abdul Rashid Piracha, president, Association of Pakistan Physicians of North America. He said his group lobbied intensely for the students and “we are now happy to report some progress.”
There are estimated 10,000 Pakistani physicians in the US and APPNA is their largest representative body with branches all over North America.
Dr Piracha said that two years ago, only 20 to 26 per cent of Pakistani doctors accepted for residency programs in the US were able to come to this country. But last year almost 76 per cent of them succeeded in coming to the US.
In meetings with officials of the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, APPNA members discussed problems faced by other Pakistani students and urged them to help relax restrictions on student visas.
“So far APPNA focused mainly on helping physicians but now we are expanding our activities,” he said. “We want to work with the Pakistani community in the US in realizing our civil rights.”
He said that every year APPNA held a day on Capitol Hill, lobbying US lawmakers on issues concerning Pakistan, not just physicians. “This year, about 50 lawmakers participated in our program on the Hill,” he said.
Dr Piracha said that after a strong show of bilateral support for the Indo-US nuclear deal on the Hill, APPNA had decided to become more active for promoting Pakistani causes. “We support Pakistan’s demand for a similar deal with the US and we are willing to lobby for this,” he said.
Dr Piracha said that APPNA was currently building a rehabilitation hospital in Rawalpindi and planned to build another in Mansehra to help earthquake victims. These hospitals will be attached to the existing larger hospitals. “We want to build similar wings attached to other hospitals as well to help general patients,” he said.
APPNA, he said, had also started a telemedicine program that allowed physicians and patients in Pakistan to consult specialists in the US on complicated medical problems. These telemedicine centers will not only be attached to existing teaching hospitals but will also cover areas where there are no teaching hospitals, such as Gilgit where APPNA has already started a tele-consultation program.
After the earthquake, APPNA has sent $600,000 in cash and $5 million worth of equipment for providing treatment to the victims, Mr Piracha said.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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