New tracking program limits Internet classes, helps organize records

A new system for tracking certain information about its international students has been implemented at Missouri Southern.

The Student Exchange and Visitor Information Service has been in development since the mid-1990s. The system was a response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which was aided by a man who entered the United States on a student visa to study at Wichita State University. He never showed up.

Originally slated for implementation by 2000 and then scrapped, the Patriot Act of 2001 mandated adoption of the SEVIS protocols nationwide by Jan. 30, 2003.

SEVIS specifies all schools enrolling international students must collect and submit to the Immigration and Naturalization Service certain information about those students via an online system. The kind of information required includes enrollment status, current address and the start date of the student’s next term of study.

Designated school officials, known as DSOs, are also required to report any changes in this information in a timely manner. The DSO logs the information into online forms at the SEVIS Web site, administered by the INS.

“On the old paper-based system, colleges were to collect information, but did not turn it in unless asked,” said Dr. Betsy Griffin, vice president for academic affairs and DSO.

Griffin said a new rule for this semester limits international students to only one Internet or televised course per semester.

Griffin said some students might be a little worried about privacy and the presence of their information on the Internet.

“I’m sure there’s some concern about the INS getting more of their information,” she said. “They make the students feel like they’re being policed more.”

Stephanie Goad, international student adviser and exchange coordinator, is optimistic about the new system.

“I think it’s going to be beneficial because it’s less paperwork,” she said. “The students love it.”

Goad said the biggest change with SEVIS is the amount of responsibility given to the institutions.

“It has placed more of a burden on the schools and the DSOs,” she said. “We’re acting as an arm of the INS.”

Goad said students who fail to supply school officials with pertinent information, or fail to show up at all, will be considered to be “out of status.”

A student who falls out of status must apply to the INS for reinstatement and can be denied reentry into the country for up to 10 years.

Goad also said a student who has been denied reinstatement has no recourse for appealing the decision.

She said the SEVIS Web site has an alert system to help DSOs stay on top of potential “out of status” situations.

“The alert system helps us to be more efficient,” she said. “If a student is at risk of falling out of status, I will notify them.”