Online database aids exchange programs

Ashlee Clark

A new online database has created some changes for international students on the Hill.

The government is now requiring all international students to be registered on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a database that holds information on all visiting students studying in the United States.

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is also requiring every international student to have an I-20, one of three documents that is needed to prove students are in the country legally, said Robin Borczon, assistant director of the Office of International Programs.

According to the ICE Web site, the system is expected to allow schools and student exchange programs to better comply with the organization’s requirements. Those include assuring the identity, current address and academic status of the student.

Students were required to be registered on the database by their university no later than Aug. 1.

Borczon said that the office has always kept records of students from other countries in their own databases and on paper.

She said the system is “highly classified” and only university administrators and government officials can access the personal information.

The ICE Web site said the database “enables schools and programs sponsors to transmit electronic information and event notifications via the Internet, to the ICE and Department of State.”

The Web site also said the database will include information such as “international student or exchange visitor status changes.”

Many international students were not aware of the new database.

“To be frank, I don’t have much idea about it,” Narasimha Raju Addala said.

The graduate student from India said he thinks that the new I-20 will be useful in accessing information quickly.

Graduate student Krishna Pothini is comfortable with the new system.

“I don’t find any difference,” the India native said. “If it is necessary, it is okay.”

Borczon said manually entering information onto the database for about 500 international students at Western was time-consuming. But it prevented problems with students reentering the country after the summer break, she said.

Other universities have reported such problems.

“I’m not aware of one student having trouble getting back into the country,” she said.

The new I-20, along with an I-94 card given at entry into the country, as well as a passport and visa, are necessary for international students to enter the United States, Borczon said. The documents contain information about each student, such as the country of origin and what they are studying.

The office set their own May 1 deadline to complete the input so students could have their new I-20s before the summer break, said Borczon.

“We acted early and we took a really heroic effort,” Borczon said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected]