State Dept. Pledges 'Sympathetic' Attitude in Granting Visas to Foreign Academics

January 13, 2011

The U. S. Department of State intends to help promote a "marketplace of ideas" by addressing "ideological exclusion" in the granting of visas, according to a letter released on Thursday by the American Association of University Professors, the PEN American Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The letter, written by Harold Honju Koh, a legal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, came in response to a letter last February in which a coalition expressed thanks to Ms. Clinton for signing an executive order that allowed travel visas to be granted to Tariq Ramadan, a professor at the University of Oxford, and Adam Habib, a professor at the University of Johannesburg.

Mr. Koh writes that the State Department "will give significant and sympathetic weight" to those traveling for lecture engagements, to accept teaching posts, or "for similar expressive or educational activities."