Google Faculty Award for Dr Umar Saif (but still no visa)

Dec 7 UPDATE: Just heard from Dr Umar Saif, he got a call today from the embassy that his visa has arrived…

Dec 5: Prominent Pakistani scientist Dr Umar Saif has received a prestigious award for research work funded by the US State Department for the last three years – but the State Department has yet to grant him a visa that he applied for in September.

The $ 100,000 USD Google Faculty Research Award jointly given to Dr Umar Saif makes him the first faculty member in a Pakistani university to receive the competitive grant, awarded for the low-cost rural telephony systems that he has been working on for the past three years along with colleagues at UC Berkeley — Eric Brewer, VP of Infrastructure at Google, currently on leave  Continue reading

US visa weirdness

Visa delayed was visa (virtually) denied, in the case of Dr Umar Saif, who missed the conference at MIT where he was being honoured as a TR35 winner

Not that other countries don’t have increasingly stringent visa laws, but as Jason Pontin said “I’m not looking to those countries for standards and openness but to the US”. The quote ended up not being used in the final version of the report I did for the new web publication Latitude NewsVisa void perplexes Pakistanis, which could have been titled ‘Visa delayed is visa (virtually) denied’, which is the case when you can’t make it to a meeting or a conference because of the delay, as in the case of Dr Umar Saif… Of course, there are security concerns, and things are getting better, thanks to the efforts of many organisations working with the State Department, but the uncertainty continues. Read more

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