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INS Statement

March 12, 2002

Issuance of Student Documents on Atta, Alshehhi

In September of 2000, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi filed requests with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to change their non-immigrant status from visitor to student. Atta’s application was approved on July 17, 2001 and Alshehhi’s was approved on August 9, 2001. Notices to students are automatically generated upon approval. Secondary notification to the school occurs later, after data is manually entered at an INS contract facility.

It is important to emphasize that the decisions regarding the request to change status were made in the summer of 2001, prior to the tragic events of September 11. It is equally important to recognize that when the applications were approved the INS had no information indicating that Atta or Alshehhi had ties to terrorist organizations.

The current process for collecting and tracking information on students is paper-based and relies on manual data entry into a computer system. INS is transitioning to a computer-based system. The new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will eliminate notification delays by informing all parties simultaneously once the INS adjudication is made.