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.
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
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
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.