Colleges Face New Visa Tracking Rules
Colleges and universities would have to adopt a new online tracking system for foreign students under a new U.S. Justice Department plan.
By next January, the Justice Department wants all postsecondary institutions to use a new database — the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The database will provide a central reporting system on more than 1 million foreign students, with colleges and universities accountable for confirming the status of student visa-holders.
“For too long, our student visa system has been a slow, antiquated, paper-driven reporting system incapable of ensuring that those who enter the United States as students are in fact attending our educational institutions,” says Attorney General John Ashcroft. “Today, we begin the process of bringing our student visa system into the 21st century.”
Under SEVIS, schools will know when a student arrives in the United States and must report to the government if a student drops out or fails to show up for school. The Justice Department wants colleges to begin using the new system next January. Though the new database system is not yet operational, a final version is expected this fall.
The move comes on the heels of U.S. Senate approval of a bill requiring more background checks for some foreign students. The plan would require more detailed background checks for students who come to the United States from countries believed to support terrorism. Students from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria would face the new requirements.
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