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In Wednesday’s New York Times:

What should have been a short visit with her family in Belarus punctuated by a routine trip to an American consulate turned into a three-month nightmare of bureaucratic snafus, lost documents and frustrating encounters with embassy employees. “If you write an e-mail, there is no one replying to you,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is very common.”

Dr. Shkumatava, who ended up traveling to Moscow for a visa, is among the several hundred thousand students who need a visa to study in the United States. People at universities and scientific organizations who study the issue say they have heard increasing complaints of visa delays since last fall, particularly for students in science engineering and other technical fields.

A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that delays of two or three months were common and attributed the problem to “an unfortunate staffing shortage.”

And we’re talking about an endeavor that is 1/100th as complicated or large as what health care is.

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