CHANGES in US VISA PROCEDURES
Are you allowing enough time for processing your US Visa?
We have just received notice from the US Consulate regarding a delay in the time it will take for processing some applications.
Effective November 14, 2001, the US State Department is imposing a 20 day waiting period on all visa applications submitted by males between the ages of 16 - 45 years of age from the following countries.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab, Emirates, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
This requirement is subject to change and is not being considered a permanent one.
Just a reminder that International Students planning to visit the United States over the winter holidays may need a US Visitor's Visa. In addition, the US Consulate has advised us that students, other then permanent residents and citizens of a Commonwealth country, transiting from a US port should apply for a Transit visa. To apply for a Transit Visa you will have to book an appointment and apply in
person with the US Consulate.
To book an appointment with the US Consulate, you may Call 1-900-451-2778 ($2/ minute will be charged to your phone) Call 1-8888-840-0032 ($2/minute will be charged to your credit card) Go on-line with a credit card at www.nvars.com ($6.25 Cdn total) Please note, that some students have experienced long delays booking
appointments over the phone.
Other US News for students
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 mandated the creation of a database that stored information about international students. To help fund and maintain the database, a $95 fee would be collected from student-visa holders. While some voiced opposition to the database, opponents have backed down since the Sept. 11 attacks, when it was widely reported that one of the hijackers, Hani Hanjour, entered the United States on a student visa.
It was widely reported that all hijackers had entered the United States on business or tourist visas. "The system is basically designed to link the schools, INS, Department of State and Department of Education into a database that would house information on foreign students," said Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman Eyleen Schmidt. Keeping electronic records in a central location makes sense, she said. "Schools have been keeping this information in paper form," Schmidt said. "It's taxing on INS resources."
The INS collects the same information that a student would supply on the INS Form I-20, and includes name and address, nationality, place of birth, degree program, date of commencement and academic status, among other information. The 1996 Act includes a provision that schools also must now report any disciplinary action that was taken
against a student who has been convicted of a crime. The program was first implemented as a pilot program in 21 schools and currently holds 40,000 records. Approximately 820,000 foreign students enter the United States on visas each year. Normally, INS district directors (there are 33 nationwide) have discretion over how much and how frequently schools report their data. Reviews of school records,
then, vary depending on the INS district.
Retrieving records on international students to make changes in visa status -- if that student got a job in the United States after graduation, for example -- is a time-consuming job for the INS, Schmidt said. Before granting a change-of-status, the INS must make sure that the student never violated the terms of their visa. With
the electronic database, "their request can be processed a lot faster," Schmidt said. "There won't be delays." Reaction to the database has been mixed.
NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, was one of the strongest opponents to the tracking system. We have felt that the very complex and expensive system being developed by the INS under 1996 legislation constituted an unreasonable barrier to foreign students who seek legitimately to pursue their higher education in
the United States, and an unnecessary reporting burden on colleges and universities, NAFSA said in a statement.
"However, if the United States Congress can cease debate on the many divisive issues that consumed it before September 11, surely no less can be expected of us. Accordingly, we will no longer oppose the foreign student tracking system that is being implemented by the INS." Petra Crosby, director of international student programs at Carleton College, said that the database has been talked about for
many years. But she hasn't discussed it with current students because a lot of them are not aware of it and "they just get anxious. I will deal with it if and when it comes into place."
"Some of the students get really angry about it. They feel they are profiled and discriminated against," she said. Nevertheless, she said, "knowing how INS keeps records now, I think (the new system) will be more efficient and I think it will be easier to track students." Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) -- who plans to
introduce legislation to reform the U.S. student visa program -- has urged a six-month moratorium on student visas to give the INS time to develop its tracking system. She has also proposed $32.3 million to fully fund the program. Feinstein has also suggested collecting biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs of all foreign students applying to enter the United States. "If fingerprinting becomes a part of it, I think it's going a little bit too far," Crosby said. "I think that's a real intrusion." Schmidt said that fingerprinting is a "possibility," but it's not a part of the program right now. A provision like that would have to go through the
regulatory process first, which allows time for schools to respond to the proposal. Paul Hassen, a spokesman for the American Council on Education said the government should review the visa process for more than just students, who make up about 2 percent of visas issued. "Clearly the process needs to be tightened for all classes,"
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