Challenges of the American Visa System
During the November 8 meeting, the Executive Committee compiled a list of scholars they believed most needed Academy aid, but they quickly found themselves hemmed in by the American visa system. Although the Academy was inundated with requests from European Jewish scholars petitioning for support, they knew that the American government would not approve the majority of the visa requests. Academy leaders believed that young, healthy, and unmarried scholars would be most likely to secure visas.
Besides the limitations of the American visa system, AAJR also recognized that securing funding for large numbers of scholars would be nearly impossible. Academy member Nathan Stern suggested that seminaries could provide dormitory housing for fellows in order to reduce expenses, but this proposal would have further prioritized single, young scholars, rather than those with spouses, children, and other family members.
Using their original list of potential scholars, the AAJR Executive Committee ranked the scholars according to age, marital status, and health. Out of the nineteen scholars they believed most likely to be granted US visas, they selected five individuals they intended to support.