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[Federal Register: September 18, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 181)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 58693-58695]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18se02-6]                         

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

22 CFR Part 41

[Public Notice 4121]

 
Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and 
Nationality Act, as Amended: Transitional Foreign Student Monitoring 
Program

AGENCY: Department of State.

ACTION: Interim rule; with request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This rule creates an electronic system known as the ``Interim 
Student and Exchange Authentication System'' (ISEAS) for monitoring the 
visa adjudication process and visa issuances to foreign students and 
exchange visitors who enter the United States in F-1,M-1, or J-1 
nonimmigrant visa categories. Recent legislation requires ISEAS to be 
operational by September 11, 2002. ISEAS will remain in operation until 
the foreign student monitoring system being developed by the INS is 
fully operational. The Department, the INS, approved institutions of 
higher education or other approved educational institutions, and 
exchange visitor program sponsors will use the ISEAS database for the 
collection and transmission of information pertaining to foreign 
student and exchange visitor visa applicants to ensure compliance with 
the legislation.

DATES: Effective date: This interim rule is effective on September 11, 
2002. Comment date: Written comments must be submitted on or before 
November 18, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments in duplicate to Chief, Legislation and 
Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, 20520-0106. 
Comments may also be forwarded via e-mail to VisaRegs@state.gov or 
faxed to 202-663-3898.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Altman, Legislation and 
Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, 
DC 20520-0106, 202-261-8040.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What Is the Background for This Action?

    On May 14, 2002, the President signed into law the ``Enhanced 
Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002'' (Border Security 
Act), Public Law 107-173, section 501 of the Border Security Act 
addresses the need to improve our ability to track foreign students 
while in the United States. Section 501(a) expands the Attorney 
General's responsibilities for monitoring and verification requirements 
established for students and exchange visitors by the Illegal 
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IRRIRA), 
Public Law 101-649. An electronic information collection and tracking 
system is being developed by the INS pursuant to these responsibilities 
(known as the ``Student and Exchange Visitor Information system'' 
(SEVIS)) and is required to be fully implemented by January 1, 2003.
    Section 501(c) of the Border Security Act requires the 
establishment by the Department of an interim program for the 
electronic monitoring of foreign student and exchange visitor visa 
issuance, admission to the United States, and enrollment until SEVIS is 
fully operational. The interim system, known as ISEAS, will be the 
means by which the Department, INS, approved educational and vocational 
institutions and exchange visitor programs meet the legislative 
requirements under 501(c). Subject to a thirty to sixty day phase-in 
and testing period, ISEAS will become operational on September 11, 
2002.
    While section 501(c) of the Act only mandates its application to 
exchange visitors seeking to attend approved institutions of higher 
education, the Department has determined to make ISEAS requirements 
identical to SEVIS requirements regarding the participation of all 
exchange visitor applicants. The Department also believes that this 
determination more accurately reflects the intent of Congress as 
expressed in the USA PATRIOT Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, both of which contain provisions 
relating to the electronic monitoring of students and exchange 
visitors. Thus, all exchange visitor visa applications will be subject 
to ISEAS verification.

Why Is This Action Being Taken?

    In light of national security concerns, Congress has mandated an 
interim electronic system to monitor aliens seeking to enter the United 
States under the F, M, or J nonimmigrant visa categories. Until SEVIS 
is fully implemented, ISEAS will facilitate the collection and 
transmission of student and exchange visitor applicant data by the 
Department, the INS, approved educational and other educational 
institutions, and exchange visitor programs to ensure that visa 
requirements are met before student or exchange visitor visas are 
issued and that students and exchange visitors, in fact, enroll in the 
institutions and programs that formed the basis of their visa 
classifications.

When Must Officials Designated by Institutions and Programs Begin To 
Use ISEAS?

Will There Be a Phase-in Period?

    ISEAS will be available to officials designated by institutions and 
programs beginning September 11, 2002. These officials should begin 
entering student and exchange visitor data into the ISEAS database on 
that date. However, it will not be fully operational for an additional 
thirty to sixty days after September 11. Therefore, during this phase-
in and testing period, entry of data into ISEAS may not guarantee that 
a consular officer will receive the data electronically. In view of 
that fact and because no student or exchange visitor visas can be 
issued on or after September 11 unless the Department receives 
``electronic evidence of documentation of the alien's acceptance,'' the 
Department has devised back-up procedures to ensure that consular 
officers receive timely electronic verification of enrollment from the 
sponsoring institutions and programs during the first month or two 
before ISEAS is fully operational.
    Instructions have been sent to all consular posts advising consular 
officers that if no data has been entered into or a consular officer 
cannot access data from ISEAS, the officer must send an email inquiry 
directly to the sponsoring institution or program office and request 
email confirmation of the student's or exchange visitor's enrollment. 
Our officers in many cases may be able to obtain email addresses using 
internet search engines or from the visa applicant directly. The 
Department also is creating lists of institutional and program web 
pages, and will be available to assist consular officers in locating 
email addresses. If a consular officer cannot obtain the electronic 
verification directly, the Visa Office will seek to obtain it from the 
sponsoring institution through the Department's internet or email 
resources.
    Thus, admissions offices of all institutions and the acceptance 
offices of all exchange visitor program sponsors should be aware of the 
possibility that

[[Page 58694]]

despite the fact that they have entered student and program participant 
information into ISEAS, they may receive direct email requests for 
verification from consular officers or from the Visa Office if 
enrollment cannot be verified through ISEAS. These offices should 
respond promptly to any such request in order not to delay the issuance 
of a visa to the student or exchange visitor.
    The Department also is undertaking an extensive media campaign 
targeted at institutions and programs that will inform them in detail 
about the new requirements.

How Does the Transitional Program Work?

    Aliens who wish to obtain visas to study or participate in an 
exchange program in the United States must first apply to an 
educational institution that has been approved by the INS or to a 
program approved by the Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural 
Affairs. When a student or exchange visitor accepts an offer to study 
or otherwise participate in an exchange program, the approved 
institution or program must complete the appropriate form for that 
institution or program. Academic or language institutions must complete 
the Form I20A-B, ``Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) 
Student Status.'' Vocational schools must complete the Form I-20M-N, 
``Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status.'' 
Designated exchange visitor program sponsors must complete the Form DS-
2019, ``Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.''
    Section 501(c) requires the approved institution or program to 
electronically transmit evidence of the student's or exchange visitor's 
acceptance to the Department. An official designated by an approved 
institution or program must enter certain information from the Forms I-
20A-B, I-20M-N or DS-2019 into the ISEAS database. Consular officers 
may not issue an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa unless they have received and 
reviewed the electronic acceptance data submitted by the approved 
institution or program. The Department, in turn, must notify the INS 
upon issuance of an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa.
    The fact that section 501(c) provides that a consular officer may 
not issue an F-1, M-1 or J-1 visa until the official designated by a 
school or program enters the appropriate information into ISEAS means 
that an alien already enrolled in a school or exchange program whose 
visa expires may not obtain a new visa until the designated official 
makes the ISEAS entries. Therefore, ISEAS requirements do not apply 
only to new school and program enrollees. They apply to all principal 
aliens seeking student and exchange visitor visas after September 11, 
2002, whether or not a visa was previously issued to that student or 
exchange visitor for the same program.
    Section 501(c) also requires the INS is to notify the approved 
institution at the time of the student's or the exchange visitor's 
admission to the United States. If the student or exchange visitor 
fails to register for classes or an exchange program, the approved 
institution must notify the INS of such failure no later than 30 days 
after the deadline for registration has passed.

How Will Approved Institutions and Programs Transmit Student Acceptance 
Documentation to the Department?

    An official designated by an approved institution or exchange 
visitor program can enter student or exchange visitor acceptance 
documentation for transmission to the Department by going to the State 
Department web page, www.iseas.state.gov. The official of the approved 
institution or program will follow instructions contained on the web 
page for entering student or exchange visitor identification data. 
ISEAS checks the list of approved institutions and exchange visitor 
programs against the identification data entered by the institution or 
program to determine if the institution or program is on the INS or 
State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs approved 
list, as appropriate. Once ISEAS confirms that the institution or 
program is on one of the approved lists, an official designated by the 
approved institution or program will enter into the database certain 
student or exchange visitor data contained in the forms I-20, IAP-66 or 
DS-2019. After each record is entered into the ISEAS database, ISEAS 
will return a confirmation number. The institution or program sponsor 
user must download and retain the ISEAS confirmation number as part of 
the institution's or program sponsor's student or exchange visitor 
data.

How Is the Department Amending Its Regulations?

    The Department is amending its regulations at 22 CFR 41.61 and 
41.62 regarding students and exchange visitors by adding the 
requirement that approved institutions or program sponsors transmit 
electronic evidence of the foreign student's or exchange visitor's 
acceptance documentation to the Department. An F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa 
may not be issued unless a consular officer has received and reviewed 
the student or exchange visitor acceptance documentation.

Regulatory Analysis and Notices

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Department's implementation of this regulation as an interim 
rule with request for comments is based upon the ``good cause'' 
exceptions found at 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (d)(3). The Border Security Act 
requires that the transitional program be operational no later than 
September 11, 2002. Considerable time was required to develop a program 
to implement Section 501(c) of the Border Security Act. The Department 
has determined that there is insufficient additional time to issue a 
proposed rule with a request for comments, given the need to promulgate 
regulations in compliance with the statutory deadline of September 11, 
2002.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
(5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation and, by approving it, 
certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any year and it will not significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary 
under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996. This rule will not 
result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a 
major increase in costs or prices: or significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on 
the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-
based companies in domestic and export markets.

Executive Order 12866

    The Department of State does not consider this rule to be a 
``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 
3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review. In addition, the Department is 
exempt from Executive

[[Page 58695]]

Order 12866 except to the extent that it is promulgating regulations in 
conjunction with a domestic agency that are significant regulatory 
actions. The Department has nevertheless reviewed the regulation to 
ensure its consistency with the regulatory philosophy and principles 
set forth in that Executive Order.

Executive Order 13132

    This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 
of Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have 
sufficient federalism implications to require consultations or warrant 
the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not impose any new reporting or record-keeping 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 
35.

List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 41

    Aliens, Nonimmigrants, Passports and visas.

    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed in the preamble, 22 CFR part 
41 is amended as follows:

PART 41--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 41 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1104; Pub. L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 et 
seq.

    2. Amend Sec.  41.61 by revising paragraph (b)(1)(i) and by adding 
paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  41.61  Students--academic and nonacademic.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) The alien has been accepted for attendance solely for the 
purpose of pursuing a full course of study in an academic institution 
approved by the Attorney General for foreign students under INA 
101(a)(15)(F)(i) or a nonacademic student institution approved under 
INA 101(a)(15)(M)(i), as evidenced by submission of a Form I-20A-B, 
Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status--For 
Academic and Language Students, or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of 
Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status--For Vocational 
Students, properly completed and signed by the alien and a designated 
school official, and the Department also has received from an official 
designated by the academic or nonacademic institution electronic 
evidence documenting the student's acceptance as provided in paragraph 
(d) of this section;
* * * * *
    (d) Electronic submission. A student's acceptance documentation 
must be submitted to the Department via the State Department's WEB page 
at http://www.iseas.state.gov. An official designated by an approved 
Academic, Language or Vocational school must follow the instructions in 
the electronic submission process, which include the requirement to 
enter data from the I-20A-B or the I-20M-N into the ISEAS database and 
download a copy of the confirmation number issued by ISEAS after each 
student record is successfully stored. The approved Academic, Language 
or Vocational school shall retain the ISEAS confirmation number as part 
of that institution's student data.

    3. Amend Sec.  41.62 by revising paragraph (a)(1) and adding 
paragraph (a)(5) to read as follows:


Sec.  41.62  Exchange visitors.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Has been accepted to participate, and intends to participate, 
in an exchange visitor program designated by the Department of State, 
as evidenced by the presentation of a properly executed Form IAP-66 or 
DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for exchange visitor status, and 
the Department has received from an official designated by the exchange 
visitor program electronic evidence documenting the student's 
acceptance as provided in paragraph (a)(5) of this section;
* * * * *
    (5) Electronic submission. An exchange visitor's acceptance 
documentation must be submitted to the Department via the State 
Department's WEB page at http://www.iseas.state.gov. The designated 
official from the approved exchange program will follow the 
instructions in the electronic submission process, which include the 
requirement to enter data from the previously issued IAP-66 or the DS-
2019 into the ISEAS database and download a copy of the confirmation 
number issued by ISEAS after each student or exchange visitor record is 
successfully stored. The Exchange program is responsible for retaining 
the ISEAS confirmation number as part of that program's student or 
exchange visitor data.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 6, 2002.
Dianne Andruch,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 02-23625 Filed 9-17-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-06-P





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