INS Extends Foreign Student Data Deadline
MIAMI (AP) _ Immigration officials pushed back a deadline on compiling information on foreign college students after schools complained that an Internet database created to collect the data has been working slowly, if at all.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service gave the nation’s colleges and universities until Feb. 15 to begin feeding personal and academic information about their foreign students into the database.
The deadline, originally set for Thursday, was delayed to give schools time to make sure their computers can communicate with INS equipment.
By the new deadline, about 3,000 schools need to be ready to start supplying data to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which is meant to replace the paper-based system the INS has used for years to track foreign students.
Officials at several colleges say they’ve had difficulties with the database.
``There were certainly indications there were problems that were cropping up. This is a way to afford those schools two more weeks to work through those issues,″ INS spokesman Chris Bentley said.
Software adjustments at Miami’s Florida International University mean it cannot begin submitting information for its 3,300 international students until next week. Georgetown University in Washington and the University of Cincinnati had not been able to access the system until Thursday.
Schools administrators learned of the extension Wednesday.
The INS has had a mandate to create a computerized system since 1996, and the long-delayed project was accelerated after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of the hijackers had entered the United States on a student visa.
Schools must provide information on the academic, personal and financial status of foreign-born students and their dependents. Colleges must also provide data on any disciplinary action, off-campus employment and whether the student has dropped below a full course of study.
The grace period applies only to newly enrolled international students. The deadline for foreign students already enrolled was Aug. 1.
About 583,000 foreign students were enrolled in the United States in 2001-02, according to the Institute of International Education.
The University of Akron has been online with the Web-based system for more than a month, said Mark Rubin, director of international and comparative programs.
``It works OK, the only problem is it’s very slow,″ he said. ``Just getting the Web site to do anything _ its like molasses.″
At Louisiana State University, Amy Baide, coordinator of documentation services, said it’s been impossible to access the INS computer all week to enter information on the school’s approximately 1,000 foreign students.
``We were ready,″ she said, ``but the INS computer system wasn’t ready.″
On the Net:
Program information: http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/sevp.htm