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Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
08/27/2008

University of Maryland staff receives prestigious DHS award

Award recognizes cooperative efforts between DHS, academic community to address challenges issued by the White House, Congress, ICE and DHS

WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today that members from the international student affairs offices of 12 universities are being recognized for their contributions in assisting ICE in coordinating, notifying and hosting town hall meetings with academic stakeholders about the importance of the congressionally mandated Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

This spring, ICE announced an increase in fees for international students, scholars and exchange visitors. These fees are the first increase in five years and will significantly enhance SEVP.

The individuals receiving this top honor today worked with ICE to host events at their schools for hundreds of academic practitioners around the country to discuss the reasoning and need for the increased fee with ICE officials. Their efforts made significant and measurable contributions that directly added to the overwhelming success of SEVP's recent efforts to educate the academic community regarding the program's proposed fee increases. Since SEVP's inception, the academic community has played a pivotal role in working alongside Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials by providing critical feedback and input that has made the system more user-friendly and functional, while ensuring that national security needs are met.

The Service to the Homeland Award is designed to recognize, in multiple categories, individuals/teams that have made major contributions to the challenges issued by the White House, the Congress and the public. The award is being presented by the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE.

Service to the Homeland Award Recipients

Individual

School

Jody Heckman Bose, International Student Advisor

University of Maryland

Dr. David Austell, Director, Office for International Students and Scholars

New York University

Jeanne Kelley, Director, International Students and Scholars Office

Boston University

James Hammerschmidt, Director, Office of International Services

University of Illinois at Chicago

Laura Welch, Assistant Director, Office of International Education

University of Colorado

Peggy Setoguchi, NAFSA Regbud Region I

Lake Washington Tech College

Christina Luther, Assistant Director, Office of International Student and Scholar Services

Portland State University

Dr. Shalini Bhutani, Associate Director, Bechtel International Center

Stanford University

Mary Jacob, Director, Office of International Students and Scholars

University of CA, Santa Barbara

Cristen Casey, Director, International Student Services

University of Texas at Dallas

Rocky Blesso, Assistant Director, International Services Center

University of Central Florida

Heather Housley, Interim Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Georgia State University

More about Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

After the events of September 11, 2001, Congress required DHS to implement a better way of keeping track of international students and exchange visitors. SEVP was the Department's response to this mandate and has successfully filled that role for several years.

"U.S. colleges and universities are the envy of the world and accordingly attract as many as a million individuals from overseas who wish to attend," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "Validating the identity of foreign students, verifying their intentions for entering our country and knowing where they are while they are here is critically important to the security of our country. The new fee rule ensures that America remains a welcoming place for foreign students to study, while enhancing our abilities to protect our national security."

The are four major enhancements to SEVP which will be made final in the next two weeks, including:

  • The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the database used to track visiting students, will include improved interactive features for school administrators as well as a simplified application process for foreign students hoping to receive an American education;
  • Local, customized, one-on-one customer support will be provided by new field liaisons;
  • Additional ICE agents will be assigned to follow up on alerts submitted by school administrators; and
  • A new recertification process, as mandated by Congress, will maintain the integrity and reputations of participating schools.