NAICU Washington Update

Homeland Security to Overhaul SEVIS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced plans to overhaul the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS, which was created after the September 11 terrorist attacks to better track international students, has been controversial and burdensome throughout its development.

Speaking at the annual meeting of NAFSA: Association of International Educators late last month, DHS officials said the overhaul of SEVIS - to be called SEVIS II - will increase the accuracy and reliability of the data, improve the security of the system, and enhance the ability to share information with other federal agencies that monitor foreign visitors.

The most significant change will be the creation of a single record for each international student. Under the current system, students who apply to multiple colleges are issued separate documents for each institution. SEVIS must then track numerous duplicate forms. SEVIS II will establish an account for each student, rather than just track paperwork.

NAFSA annual meeting participants voiced concerns about technological glitches, such as those which have plagued the current SEVIS system, as well as potential fee increases. (In April, the agency proposed doubling the student visa fee to $200; see WIR#4, April 29.)  DHS officials said they don't anticipate additional fees, and have already incorporated SEVIS II fees into the last proposed hike.

The target date for the start of SEVIS II is September 2009. However, international educators and SEVIS administrators feel the time line is overly optimistic.

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