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Volume 68, Issue 14, Friday, September 13, 2002


Selection stiffens for visas

By Ray Hafner
Senior Staff Writer 

International students at UH are facing increased scrutiny and a host of new regulations, many of which were enacted Wednesday, one year after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Many of the regulations were first proposed in October 1996, but had not been in effect.

"After Sept. 11, things got quite a bit expedited," said Director of International Student and Scholar Services Anita Gaines.

Eli, a Lebanese student who wished his last name not be used, gained entry to the United States four years ago and gave anecdotal evidence of the increased difficulty in obtaining student visas.

All 20 applicants in his group were accepted. 

But when his cousin and a group of 15 others applied just three months ago, not one was awarded a visa.

One of the biggest new tools in monitoring student aliens will be the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS will go into effect Jan. 30, and will require the ISSS office to report any change in an international student's status to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Some key measures of a student's status are the number of hours enrolled, document expiration and address changes. 

The ISSS is developing software to automatically alert it to any changes.

"It's going to be crucial for students to avoid anything to violate their status," Gaines said. Those who do face losing their status have to go through what Gaines termed a "very difficult" process of reinstatement.

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