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Slutzker Center for International Services prepares for new visa regulations
Slutzker Center for International Services prepares for new visa regulationsJanuary 28, 2003Michele Jachimmmjachim@syr.edu
Starting Jan. 30, new federal visa regulations will have a significant impact on the more than 2,000 international students and scholars at Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The new rules will also affect the many administrators, faculty, and staff who work with international students and researchers. According to the new requirement, all institutions of higher education will be required to implement electronic data collection and reporting compatible with the Student-Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
SEVIS is part of the congressional response to terrorism that gives federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies greater authority to gather and share information. The system’s database will be used to produce new Certificates of Eligibility for the F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 visas, and the federal government will use it to monitor international students, scholars and their dependents at SU and ESF.
“Faculty and staff who serve as instructors, mentors, or just friendly faces to our international students and scholars who are on a new campus-and in a new country-will play a significant role in international student satisfaction and retention, and in maintaining institutional compliance with the new regulations,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “It is important that we continue to work together across campus to provide the leadership, guidance, and support to ensure compliance by the institution and international students and scholars to these new regulations.”
SEVIS will allow for more effective monitoring of non-immigrant students and exchange visitors across the country and help recognize, predict, and report trends and anomalies. If the University fails to comply with the new regulations, the federal government could withdraw permission to issue visas for international students and scholars.
The staff at the Lillian and Emmanuel Slutzker Center for International Services (SCIS) will help international students and scholars follow procedures and provide information to meet these new requirements, in keeping with SCIS’ mission: to facilitate and manage international educational activities by responding to international students, scholars, faculty, administrators, staff and other members of the University community with advice, counseling, and programming on immigration, administrative issues, cross-cultural and personal matters.
SCIS staff and international students will begin using the SEVIS database Jan. 30 as a standard practice to update and generate critical and mandatory immigration documents. SCIS advisors will invite every international student and scholar to make an appointment to update their SEVIS file and obtain new copies of the required paperwork no later than Aug. 1. SCIS will also share information, deadlines, and regulations to help international students maintain appropriate visa status.
For students, these regulations require reporting of changes of address, timely registration for classes, and other changes including adjustments to majors or financial situations. In addition, students must now obtain prior approval from an SCIS designated school official before dropping a course, engaging in employment, extending their study period or transferring to another school. SEVIS also prohibits students from entering the United States more than 30 days before a program start date.
Students who fail to comply with the new rules will be lose all benefits of their non-immigrant status, and will be required to exit the U.S. and attempt a re-entry with a new I-20 visa.
“These regulations are new to everyone, and we are still learning about their implications,” said Michael Smithee, associate director of SCIS. “We strive to offer a welcoming environment to all international students, and we are confident in our ability to ease their transition to these new laws.”
SCIS has added to new advisors to its staff to comply with the new regulations, and Enterprise Process Support, Information Systems, the Office of Admissions, the Graduate Enrollment Management Center, and other offices are working together to move the process forward. SU has also budgeted for adaptations of existing software and the purchase of new hardware and software to meet the requirements of SEVIS data management.
SCIS has been working with professional organizations and government officials to interpret the new SEVIS system since the new regulations were proposed in May 2002. Syracuse University will use the SEVIS interface that its PeopleSoft system is currently developing to network with SEVIS. This system will have automatic reports that the SCIS can review to help international students and exchange visitors maintain their legal status
“We realize the importance of complying with federal initiatives to use the SEVIS database, and we are committed to assisting international students and scholars of Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to meet the terms of these regulations,” said Patricia A. Burak, director, Slutzker Center for International Services. “We are dedicated to supporting our international students by giving them up-to-date information about these regulations and advising them about the rules.”