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October 25, 2001:

Passage of the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act

January 2002:

2 supplemental non-immigrant student visa applications now used for males between ages 16 – 45

April 2002:

Changes in regulation about 3rd country non-immigrant visa applications in US consulates in Canada and Mexico -- strong advisory to not to attempt to obtain visas in 3rd countries!

May 7, 2002:

President Bush announced plans to create a federal panel to conduct Interagency Panel for Science and Security (IPASS) clearance, which is currently under development. A higher level of security clearance will be required for international students and exchange visitors who want to study or conduct research in certain sensitive science and technological fields that are “uniquely available” in the US.

July 2002:

Administrative reviews conducted at the State Department in Washington, DC, for some student visa applicants. Visas cannot be issued until clearance from this review is received by the US embassy/consulate where the student is applying. Administrative reviews can take anything between 4 weeks and 6 months. So far it is unclear what triggers an administrative review of a visa application.

Administrative reviews of MIT students have been reported from Middle Eastern countries and from China, France and Germany. About 100 MIT students applying or reapplying for a visa traveling in the summer 2002 were subjected to administrative review. So far no statistics are available if visa applicants who have to undergo administrative review are less likely to be successful in obtaining a visa.

September 11, 2002:

Interim Student/Exchange Authentication System (ISEAS) established. Requires school to provide “electronic evidence” about every student they expect to apply for a new (or a renewal) student visa (part of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, enacted May 14th, 2002). If you plan to apply for a visa stamp, the International Students Office (ISO) has to enter your personal information into ISEAS. Consulates may not issue visas if the school fails to enter this data.

Please notify the ISO at least 30 days before you plan to travel so that your data can be entered into ISEAS. Any entry made into ISEAS expires within 45 days. So if you have been entered into ISEAS more than 45 days before you plan to apply for a visa stamp, you have to notify the ISO to reenter your personal information.

National Security Entry – Exit registration system (NSEERS) established. Requires all males 16 years of age and older who are citizens and nationals (meaning that they are born in these countries) of Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria to present themselves to the district Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) office (for Massachusetts, this office is in Boston) for fingerprinting, photographing and extensive interview(s) by December 16th, 2002. This procedure is known as Special Registration.

22 November, 2002:

Thirteen additional countries are added to NSEERS: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Citizens and nationals (if you are born in one of those countries) must report to the INS by January 10th, 2003.

November 25, 2002:

President Bush signs into law the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. The Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) as we have known it so far will be abolished and no longer associated with the department of Justice. The Service will be split into two areas: enforcement and benefits. SEVIS compliance will fall under enforcement and therefore under the direct jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. Benefits, such as optional practical training, will fall to the Department of State. As a result major shifts in policy and practice can be expected.16 December, 2002:

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are added to NSEERS. Citizens and nationals (if you are born in one of those countries) must report to the INS by February 21st, 2003.

The government has indicated that more countries will be added to the NSEERS program. The ultimate goal is to have almost all countries part of NSEERS by 2005. Due to the limited capacity of the INS to conduct special registrations, the government decided to add countries in several steps to NSEERS and not all at once.

Failure to comply with NSEERS automatically leads to a loss of status (the student is illegally in the US), which means the student must leave the US with very little chance of return. Students who have to undergo special registration can only exit and enter the US at designated ports, such as Logan International Airport in Boston.

January 30, 2003:

Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) goes into effect nationwide. The SEVIS system is an electronic tracking system which records international student “events” from admission to a US academic institution through completion of the academic program, and if applicable, through optional practical training. Once a student is entered in the SEVIS system, the school will be responsible for reporting electronically 19 international student events (see below).

Many of the events need to be entered into SEVIS prior to their effective date (e.g. drop below full time course of study). Others will need to be entered within 21 to 30 days (depending on the individual event) after the event. The SEVIS electronic reporting system was mandated on January 30th, 2003 for all new international students. Current students will be required to be entered into the SEVIS system by August 1st, 2003.

Once a student is in the SEVIS system the electronic reporting of the events listed below is mandated each term unless otherwise specified. The F-1 SEVIS requirements were finalized on December 11th, 2002 and J-1 regulations were finalized December 12th, 2002.

Reportable student events:

  • Academic Admission
  • Deferral of admission
  • Personal information
  • Financial information
  • Academic program information updates
  • Registration each term: has to be entered within 30 days of registration day
  • Disciplinary action
  • Program extension
  • Drop below full course of study (if you are below a full course load, you are violating your student visa requirements and fall out of status immediately. You will have to leave the US. If you want to take a medical leave, you have to report this change to SEVIS before you go on medical leave, otherwise you fall out of status.)
  • Resumption of full course of study
  • Optional practical training employment
  • Off-campus employment
  • Premature termination of studies
  • Completion of study program
  • Bringing dependant(s) to the US
  • Update dependant(s) information
  • Departure of dependant(s)
  • Reentry of dependant(s)

Please note: so far the International Students Office and the International Scholars Office have no records for any dependants you might have. It is your responsibility to provide these offices with all the required information, otherwise you and your dependants fall out of status and you have to leave the US.

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