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Lachs moot teams from NLSIU, NUJS, Nalsar sweat, get stuck in Oz visa jam, tweet Hail Mary pass to Sushma Swaraj

The clock is ticking and time is running out on several NLUs’ Lachs Australia dream
The clock is ticking and time is running out on several NLUs’ Lachs Australia dream

The Nalsar Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata and NLSIU Bangalore teams (and possibly others) due to represent India at the Manfred Lachs Asia Pacific Rounds in Adelaide, Australia from 18 - 21 April 2017, have hit a perfect storm of a spike in tourism and visa applications to Australia, coupled with their last-minute qualification to the moot, meaning they have been unable to get their visa in time.

The recently concluded ISRO Funding Rounds for Manfred Lachs International Space Law Moot Court Competition 2017, saw Nalsar Hyderabad become the last Indian team to qualify for the Asia Pacific Rounds on 3 April, following NLSIU Bangalore, NUJS Kolkata, GNLU Gandhinagar and NLU Orissa and several others.

However, we understand that at least Nalsar, NLSIU and NUJS (and possibly others) are all still waiting for their visas to Australia, with the clock ticking. We have reached out to the moot committees of GNLU and NLU Orissa for comment on whether they have received their visas yet.

On top of the already tight timelines, the teams’ applications have probably been hit by the Australian High Commission on 31 March 2017 having issued a letter, as reported by the Times of India, stating that its visa office has been “currently experiencing very high volumes of visitor visa lodgements…. as a result of which visa processing time is taking longer than usual.”

The standard processing time of three weeks has now been pushed to one month, according to the Times.

NUJS Lachs team member Naman Khatwani told us: “NUJS and NLSIU, Blr applied on the 20th of March which was the date the results came out for the teams who are selected for the Asia-Pacific Round.

“We still haven’t received our visa, and tomorrow being the last working day before our flights, we need them expedited.”

He said that the NLSIU team was also still waiting for its visa. We have also reached out to the NLSIU moot committee. Update 02:16: The NLSIU moot committee also confirmed that its team members had not yet received the visa.

According to the format followed by the moot, 20 teams from the Asia Pacific Zone (such as India, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Malaysia) qualify to the Asia Pacific Rounds out of which 9 teams are from India. Those teams qualify for the Asia Pacific rounds by a process of memorial elimination, via which only the top 20 best memorial teams in the Asia-Pacific Zone eventually get through.

However, the ISRO Indian Funding Round also provides an opportunity to the highest ranked Indian team to have not qualified via the memorial elimination round to qualify for the Lachs. This year, that was Nalsar Hyderabad, which had emerged as runners-up at the ISRO funding rounds on 3 April 2017 (NLSIU, which won the funding round, had already qualified for the Lachs in Australia via the Asia Pacific Rounds).

That has left an even shorter window for Nalsar to secure its Australian visa.

Sailender Reddy from the Nalsar team commented: “We qualified for the moot on 3rd [April], by way of our performance in national funding rounds of Manfred Lachs Moot Court competition, 2017 in NLSIU, Bbangalore, organised by ISRO. And they recommended our team to the organisers of South Asia rounds, and they accordingly confirmed our participation. We applied for tourist visa on 4th, it went for processing to the high commission on 6th.”

The Nalsar team too now have only 24 hours remaining before the long holiday weekend to receive their visas from the High Commission, or miss their flights to Adelaide, which are scheduled for early morning of 15 April.

In a last ditch attempt, NUJS’ Khatwani and Nalsar’s team have now made an appeal to foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to intervene to help them procure their visas on time.

The Nalsar appeal has been retweeted 170 times at the time of publication.

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