Homeland Security: Performance of Foreign Student and Exchange Visitor Information System Continues to Improve, But Issues Remain Page: 3 of 27
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Messrs. Chairmen and Members of the Subcommittees:
We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Subcommittees'
hearing on the federal government's progress in tracking
international students in higher education. As you know, a central
component of this tracking is the Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS), an Internet-based system run by the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect and record
information on foreign students, exchange visitors, and their
dependents-before they enter the United States, when they enter,
and during their stay. The system, which is the focus of our
testimony, began operating in July 2002, and DHS required its use
for all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors
beginning in August 2003.
SEVIS automates the manual, paper-intensive processes that
schools and exchange programs had been using to manage and
report information about foreign students and exchange visitors.
With SEVIS, schools and program sponsors can transmit
information electronically to DHS and the Department of State. The
system's two main objectives are
* to support the oversight and enforcement of laws and regulations
concerning foreign students, exchange visitors, and schools, as well
as sponsors of exchange visitor programs who are authorized by the
government to issue eligibility documents, and
* to improve DHS's processing of foreign students and exchange
visitors at ports of entry, through streamlined procedures and
modernized data capture.
Our testimony today is based on a report that we issued in June
20041 on SEVIS performance, augmented by our recent work to
determine DHS efforts to strengthen system performance since that
report, reports that we issued in February 2004 and 2005 on student
1GAO, Homeland Security: Performance of Information System to Monitor Foreign
Students and Exchange Visitors Has Improved, but Issues Remain, GAO-04-690
(Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2004).
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Homeland Security: Performance of Foreign Student and Exchange Visitor Information System Continues to Improve, But Issues Remain, text, March 17, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294449/m1/3/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.