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Massachusetts Department of Higher Education's                         Office of Student Financial Assistance
Immigration Notice
It is the policy of the Board of Higher Education that public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) immediately of the name and last known address of any international student requiring a student visa whenever such student does not enroll, enrolls for less than full-time, withdraws or graduates from the institution. The public institutions of higher education shall forward copies of any such INS notifications to the Board of Higher Education.

In accordance with this policy, it is requested that the public institutions of higher education commence the INS notification process effective October 2, 2001.

Notification Details
Recent media reports have identified problems in the oversight of the international student visa programs in light of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. On Sunday, September 23, 2001, the CBS news program, "60 Minutes", ran a story about one of the individuals who committed a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The story said that this person had been allowed into the United States on a student visa to attend one of the public universities in Kansas but was no longer enrolled when the attack occurred. The Globe (9/30/01, p. A30) reported that the Immigration and Naturalization Service gave "only token attention to a monitoring program" of the status and activities of the more than 284,000 international students currently in the United States with student visas for academic or language programs.

As of 1999, the latest year for which data are available, there were approximately 4,500 international students requiring visas enrolled in Massachusetts public higher education institutions.

When a student who lives abroad applies to and is accepted for enrollment into Massachusetts' public institutions, (s)he must apply to the U.S. State Department for a student visa application Form I-20. Students who already live in our country under a different visa must complete and submit Form I-539 to change to student status. The embassy of the student's country of origin and the State Department must both approve the visa application.

If a student does not enroll or enrolls for less than full-time status, (s)he is considered out of compliance with the terms of the student visa. Under current policy and procedure, when a student fails to comply, the institution may notify the student and the INS of his/her lack of compliance. The federal law does not mandate that institutions automatically notify INS; it stipulates only that the institution provide such information whenever asked by the INS. Anecdotal evidence suggests such requests do not occur regularly; for example, Salem State College has not been asked for such information since the late 1980s. Some campuses consider it "good practice" to notify INS whenever a student is no longer in compliance. If a student who was out of compliance wishes to re-enroll, (s)he must begin with a new I-20 or I-539 application before re-admittance.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (the Service) regulations (in 8 CFR 214.3(g)(2)) state that: at intervals specified by the Service but not more frequently than once a term or session, the Service's processing center shall send each school (to the address given on Form I-17 as that to which the list should be sent) a list of all F-1 and M-1 students who, according to Service records, are attending school. A designated school official at the school must note on the list whether or not each student on the list is pursuing a full course of study and give, in addition to the above information, the names and current address of all F-1 or M1 students, or both, not listed, attending the school and other information specified by the Service as necessary to identify the students and to determine their immigration status. The designated school official must comply with the request, sign the list, state his or her title, and return the list to the Service's processing center within sixty days of the date of the request.

The lack of reliable information about non-citizens living in the United States on a temporary basis has impeded the investigation into the attacks. The proposed new BHE policy to enhance the reporting requirements supports both existing law and good practice. By establishing this policy, it is our intent to be proactive in responding to this threat.


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Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, MA  02151
Phone: (617) 391-6070
Fax: (617) 727-0667
E-mail: osfa@osfa.mass.edu