INS sets date for student data

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has issued a final rule requiring colleges and universities to begin reporting information about foreign students electronically on Jan. 30, 2003.

The program is part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that is being implemented to keep track of foreign students who receive visas to study in the United States.

SEVIS establishes an electronic reporting process to document a student's status. The system is considered an important part of the effort to improve homeland security by keeping better track of foreign students. Several of the hijackers from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks came to the United States on student visas to attend flying schools.

In an embarrassing episode, INS issued student visas to two of the hijackers six months after they died in the attacks they carried out.

In publishing the final rule Dec. 10, INS noted that many colleges and universities complained that complying with the rule would require time and money. But INS said the Jan. 30 compliance date could be met with little cost to the schools.

"Other than personnel costs for data entry, there is virtually no cost to the schools. [It] — only requires the school have Internet access and a free browser," according to INS.

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