Many of the large machine learning conferences were in the US this summer. A common problem which students from abroad encounter is visa issues.
Just getting a visa to visit can be pretty rough: you stand around in lines, sometimes for days. Even worse is the timing with respect to ticket buying. Airplane tickets typically need to be bought well in advance on nonrefundable terms to secure a reasonable rate for air travel. When a visa is denied, as happens reasonably often, a very expensive ticket is burnt.
A serious effort is under way to raise this as in issue in need of fixing. Over the long term, effectively driving research conferences to locate outside of the US seems an unwise policy. Robert Schapire is planning to talk to a congressman. Sally Goldman suggested putting together a list of problem cases, and Phil Long setup an email address email@example.com to collect them.
If you (or someone you know) has had insurmountable difficulties reaching a conference in the US, please send an email with:
Details: (be brief please)
We expect most of the problem cases are students, so don’t be shy.