INS requires foreign student payment fee

Foreign students studying in the United States will be required by immigration services to pay a $95 fee to support a new Internet-based tracking system.

In the next 12 months foreign students will begin supporting the Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students, in part directed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, said Judith Green, an administrator in the GW International Services Office.

CIPRIS, which will be launched in about a year, will be directed by the INS, the State Department and the Department of Education. The program will enable U.S. universities, schools and cultural exchange programs to report and share vital information about foreign students electronically with government regulatory agencies.

CIPRIS will provide timely and accurate information about the many international students who have chosen a U.S. education, according to an INS report.

The current system for providing universities with information about foreign students, including their educational backgrounds, can become an arduous route, involving several paperwork transfers.

According to the INS Web site, the new CIPRIS system will allow university officials on-the-spot access to student information through a touch-tone system connected to the Internet. Foreign students will be given bar-coded ID cards – similar to GWorld cards. The card should contain information about students and their backgrounds, if the system works correctly.

My experience with the INS is that it is not as efficient as one might like, Green said. She cites GW foreign students’ inability to get job experience while in the United States this year as an example of INS bureaucracy.

The INS basically ran out of codes that could be issued to each student, and that was in November, Green said. Employers are forced to hire elsewhere because the students have not been giving working clearance by the U.S. This problem is still going on.

Green said she was concerned if it was possible for a computer to run out of assigned numbers for students, keeping an accurate database of thousands of foreign students’ information might be an impossible task.

If the program works, then it will be extremely beneficial to students and administrators, but we’ll have to see if that’s the case, Green said.

A problem that might hit closer to home for foreign students is the $95 fee universities plan to collect from each foreign student.

I think that’s where the real problem lies, in the method of collecting the fee, Green said.

The government will collect payment through other organizations or institutions such as GW.

Too much time and effort would be put into something that the government, if it is intent on following through with CIPRIS, should be directly doing, Green said.

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