Emory Report
February 2, 2009
Volume 61, Number 18



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February 2
, 2009
International office prioritizes visa compliance

By kim urquhart

Emory’s continued growth in international student enrollment and international scholar employment, coupled with an increasingly complex U.S. regulatory environment, makes the International Student and Scholar Programs (ISSP) role as Emory’s official link with the departments of State and of Homeland Security more important than ever.

In the coming year, in line with Emory’s strategic plan, ISSP will move to prioritize services on immigration and compliance.

“In an increasingly complex regulatory environment, more time is needed to navigate the issues that arise for our international students and scholars,” says Vice Provost for International Affairs Holli Semetko, “and we continually strive for excellence in providing this service.”

The ISSP office is the best source of information, advice and assistance on issues related to a student or scholar’s immigration status. ISSP’s team of professionals completes immigration forms and files reports as required by law to initiate and maintain proper visa status for Emory’s students, faculty and staff. The challenge, Semetko says, has been in trying to organize and staff the large number of social and educational programs not directly related to regulatory issues, particularly in an economic downturn.

“Emory greatly values its international students and scholars who are coming here in larger numbers each year. We want to ensure their smooth transition to the U.S. and provide the best possible service during their stay here and beyond,” she says.

Many of the social and cultural programming previously provided or co-sponsored by ISSP will find new homes in the schools and the many other organizations serving Emory’s international students and scholars.

The 30-year tradition of Emory International Coffee Hours will continue under the sponsorship of the Dobbs University Center Operations Office once a month, says ISSP Director Lelia Crawford. And Emory Law will now host the annual International Student Forum with former President Jimmy Carter through its human rights initiative.

This spring will be the ISSP’s last sponsored Spring Break trip — an activity that may be continued through the schools or organizations if enough people express interest — and a closing activity will commemorate the Student Program in International Cultural Exchange (SPICE). Going forward ISSP will no longer participate in the residence-based theme hall facilitated by University Housing.

ISSP is working closely with the staff of each school who are on the frontlines of working with international students and scholars, to address concerns. Semetko, who met recently with members of this group, emphasized that ISSP will use this time to consider what would be the best configuration to address priority needs for international student and scholar services in cultural and educational programming.

“I am optimistic about what we will be able to accomplish in the short-term, and in the longer-term as we come out of this global economic crisis,” says Semetko. “I encourage our staff, faculty and students to contact me and the staff of the Office of International Affairs with comments and suggestions.”