Last week local media reported that multiple Indian nationals had arrived in Belize through the Philip Goldson International Airport in Ladyville. But they were not, apparently, the latest beneficiaries of Ministerial largesse in granting nationalities and passports. In fact, they were prospective students at the Central American Health Sciences University (CAHSU), profiled earlier this year in a series on local medical schools. The University paid for their visas and they landed safe and sound. We spoke to the University’s director of special projects and development and campus executive officer, Dr. Murali Rudraraju.
“As far as the visas are concerned, we strictly follow the rules and regulations that guides lay down. We have been upgrading in this country for the last fifteen plus years, our students come here as a foreigner with Tax Warrant Insurance as you know what’s the based in Belize. We do ask for foreign students and foreign insurance constitute a majority of us soaring population. These students, when they come, depending on the country that they are coming from, they have to follow different regulations. Yes, recently, Indian students did come into the University, they are all right now attending classes and we have an open door policy. So, as media houses, you are free to go around, you can see them, and when they come, we follow strict guidelines as laid down by the different departments”.
Dr. Rudraraju says it has become more difficult to facilitate students due to tightened controls at the Ministry of Immigration.
Dr. Murali Rudraraju: ”Yes, indeed it has had an impact differently. As media, you will be probably knowing more of what is going on , then of what I do, but yes, the process has become more rigid. Basically, I do welcome the process that they have put in place, but the only thing I do different is the overall turnaround time to be faster because we have to understand as a medical school, attracting foreign students, we are competing with several other countries that are also attracting students. So, when it comes to Belize, the visa process did have an impact because people that were supposed to be here for this September term were not only until recently down here. So, as a university, we have lost couple of them because we have to reschedule their classes, we have to again take them to a surer stand. Students also tend to lose by that, because they are also falling behind by that answering that step”.
Dr. Rudraraju says Belize can learn from other countries about how to handle these types of situations.
Dr. Murali Rudraraju: “In the majority of the countries worldwide, basically which attract foreign students for the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand-any of the countries that are attracting foreign students, they have a process which is written by the government for the Immigrations of these. For example, if you go to the U.S., you have to have your IQ entity in place which is your university saying that you are coming to the U.S. and you are registered for that. Then you go to the U.S. embassy, they do the interview, and you get your student visa. Other countries , the visa process is much faster when we compare it to Belize and in particular, when I am talking with students from India, it is a very tedious process because it is almost two to three months that it is going to take because the Immigration also want the assurance that these people are coming here to study, and we cooperate with the Immigration Department and whenever they do investigate also on a monthly or on a bi-monthly basis, and when they do come in, we have also an open door. They come, they check the place and that’s about it”.