New rules for international students, faculty
By Cindy Bank / Washington, D.C. Office
As many departments around campus have learned, recent changes
in laws and regulations are affecting how visa applications for
foreign students, staff, visiting scholars and faculty are being
handled by the State Department, the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) and other agencies.
The changes already have slowed down the visa process, so it now
takes longer for some international students and faculty to get
into the country.
One of the biggest changes involves the tracking of foreign students
and scholars under the Student and Exchange Visitors Information
System (SEVIS). U-M and all other colleges and universities that
admit international students are expected to be in compliance by
The Internet-based system will enable the State Department, INS
and schools to share information electronically about the status
of foreign students visa applications and their academic progress.
The University will be required to report such information as when
students drop below full-time status without prior authorization,
change of academic level and employment authorization.
On campus, a task force has been formed to plan, communicate and
direct the Universitys compliance with SEVIS. It is co-chaired
by Rodolfo Altamirano, director of the International Center, and
John Godfrey, assistant dean of international education at Horace
H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
The International Center has followed SEVIS implementation requirements
closely and has worked with other affected U-M offices, such as
admissions, the registrar, Michigan Administrative Information Services,
the general counsel and others to ensure a smooth transition.
SEVIS is based on the Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating
International Students, which Congress enacted in 1996 in response
to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In addition to SEVIS, the State Department is requiring additional
security clearances for some visa applicants, which adds four to
eight weeks to the process. All male applicants between the ages
of 16 and 45, regardless of nationality or country of visa application,
are now subject to this additional security procedure.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a new policy
that will require the INS to review immigration documents for anyone
applying for a Social Security number and to verify that the persons
paperwork is in order before the SSA can process the application.
Federal law does not require a Social Security number for people
before they start working, but individuals need the numbers to file
The White House announced in May that the new Interagency Panel
on Advanced Science Security (IPASS) will screen foreign student
applicants seeking to study sensitive science and technology programs.
IPASS will be triggered when applicants fit certain criteria,
such as being citizens of countries known to sponsor terrorism and
applying for study in specific areas of study that are uniquely
available in the United States and are in sensitive areas. These
criteria have not yet been fully defined.
The Office of Science and Technology Policywhich has worked
with the State Department, INS and other security and science agencies
to develop IPASShas consulted with the higher education community.
The White House is expected to release an executive order in the
near future to implement the program.
For more information, contact Cindy Bank at the U-M Washington,
D.C. office, at firstname.lastname@example.org;
Rodolfo Altamirano at email@example.com;
or John Godfrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.