Abandon United States as a venue for computer science conferences.
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Largest computer science conferences such as SIGGRAPH, NeurIPS, ICML attract thousands of participants annually. The impact of such conferences is enormous on the community of computer scientists. For many it is the chance to expose results of research work on which one has been working for years and for many it is the opportunity to see the state-of-the-art achievements that will advance the world. It's no surprise that for computer science researchers the conferences are the main events of the year. However, many people cannot attend these conferences because of visa policies that governments impose.
The situation is especially prevalent in the United States, where the citizens of many countries have to wait for months to receive a visa for a 5-day trip to the conference. It is even worse for countries such as Iran, Russia, and China that are under a barrage of scrutiny directed at attendees and authors of the research work. This is particularly sad and humiliating as the savants who publish the scientific articles to bring the good to the world and benefit the society with non-harmless technology have to go through this process over and over again, for each conference that is organized in the U.S.
The goals of this petition are:
1) Show a disadvantage of receiving a visa to the U.S. While many countries (e.g. all citizens of European Union) enjoy free entry for the short trips to the United States, many prolific researchers and experts of their areas of research were not fortunate to have this option. This forces researchers to apply for a visa to the U.S. which is a complicated process. There are many hurdles with obtaining a visa to the U.S. for computer scientists. To give an example, one has to take an appointment to the embassy, which can take up to a month in countries like France and up to a year in countries like Russia. At the appointment the embassy will take your passport and supporting documents and with 95% will send you to administrative processing that takes 2 months. This happens almost all of the time to the people who have a profession of a researcher or an engineer, as these professions seem suspicious to the government. Not only don't you have your passport for this time, but you also don't get any updates or feedback. Even more, even if you got lucky and received a required stamp, almost always the issued visa is one-time entry, implying that you should get a visa for your next conference in the U.S., even if your previous visa didn't expire.
2) Abandon the U.S. as a venue for computer science conferences. We want organizers of the computer science conferences to exclude the U.S. as a place to host the conferences, until the situation of getting a visa is improved for the researchers and attendees of the conferences. There is a large and growing number of authors, who cannot attend and present their scientific work, because the U.S. government treats their profiles as suspicious, despite their academic results. Countries in E.U. and Asia way easier issue visas for academics, so they could accommodate more attendees.
This petition will be sent to organizers of all major conferences in computer science (SIGGRAPH, NeurIPS, ICML, etc.).
If you are an attendee of such conferences and also experience problems with obtaining the visas or if you share the same view on this topic, please help us by signing this petition and sharing it in your social networks.
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