September 8, 2003

International students face new requirements

By Beverly Clark

Admissions for international students at Emory are up, but how many actually will make it to campus remains to be seen as these students work through additional immigration requirements put in place by the U.S. State Department in the wake of

“There’s no way of knowing at this point whether they all will come, or how many will choose not to come—or can’t—because of visa trouble,” said Leila Crawford, director of International Student and Scholar Programs.

One of the biggest shifts for international students has been that, effective Aug. 1, all applicants for temporary visas must interview with the American consulate in their country before they are issued a visa to travel to the United States. Previously only applicants from some countries had to do go through that process, according to Crawford.

“The hard part for students is that they have to overcome ‘the presumption of immigration’ by the consular officials, who assume that an applicant plans to stay in the United States unless they can prove otherwise,” Crawford said. “Students are supposedly getting preferential treatment in terms of timeliness, and that appears to be working, but some students will likely be delayed due to the sheer number of people involved.”

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) continues to have problems, Crawford said. SEVIS was created by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) in the wake of 9/11 to track all international students and visitors entering the country. All universities and colleges accepting international students now must register them through SEVIS.

“We certainly have had our share of problems with SEVIS and it’s been frustrating, but most of our issues have centered on the amount of time it takes to work through the system and have information processed so students are on track to get here when school starts,” Crawford said. Other schools have had more complex problems involving issues such as lost or incorrect data that affect a student’s legal status to be in the country, she added.

Another new requirement is that colleges and universities are now required by the Patriot Act to report to ICE if a student approved for travel does not show up or drops out of school. Previously, schools only had to provide that information if asked to do so by immigration officials. Emory already has been providing that information at the request of the local ICE office, Crawford said.

Overall, while the latest available figures show international enrollment was up
6.4 percent in 2002 at Emory, no one will really know if numbers are up or down until school starts and actual enrollment is tallied, Crawford said.

In Emory College, international applications continue to grow (nearly 50 percent during the past four years) although enrollment decreased slightly from last year. International students currently make up 4 percent of the class.

There are 49 international first-year students enrolled representing 22 countries. The geographic breakdown of those students is as follows: Korea (19); India (5); Hong Kong/China (5); Canada (2); and there is one student each from Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Jamaica, Jordan, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand.