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INS Issues Tough Visitor Visa Rules
New rules designed to enhance national security 
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Immigration and Naturalization Service

Dateline: 04/09/02

With some members of Congress calling for abolishing the agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has announced its intent to immediately being enforcing new rules to significantly tighten controls over student and visitor visas.

Under the rule announced Monday, non-immigrant visitors attempting to remain in the U.S. under student visa status will be required to undergo appropriate security checks before taking courses. 

Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, while in the U.S. under visitor visas, received training at a Florida flight school over a year before their requests for student visa status were approved by the INS.

Investigation of the Atta, Al-Shehhi incident revealed severe operational deficiencies between the administrative and enforcement arms of the INS and brought sharp criticism from the White House and many members of Congress.

INS conceded that at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, they were unable to verify the location or status of many of the approximately 600,000 foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges. INS believes these new regulations, along with computerized systems now under development to better track foreign students, will greatly improve their enforcement efforts. 

Other Requirements of the New Rule
The proposed rule governing temporary, non-immigrant visitors will:

reduce the initial allowed stay in the U.S. by non-immigrant visitors from the current six months to as little as 30 days, or the amount of time needed accomplish the purpose of their trip;

reduce the maximum extended stay in the U.S. by non-immigrant visitors from the current one year to six months;

limit the conditions under which an extension of stay non-immigrant visitor status can be granted and reduce the maximum length of that extension;

prohibit non-immigrants admitted under visitor status from changing to student status unless they state an intention to study at the time they enter the U.S.; and

require persons ordered removed from the U.S. to surrender to the INS within 30 days or forfeit their rights to appeal and asylum. [For more details see: Mandatory Surrender Proposed for Persons With Final Removal Orders]

INS - Detailed Fact Sheet
Gives complete details on all new rules governing business visitor (B-1) and tourist (B-2) visas. 

Note: INS defines non-immigrants as persons entering the U.S. from foreign countries who do not intend to seek full American citizenship through the naturalization process.

"These new rules strike the appropriate balance between INS’ mission to ensure that our nation’s immigration laws are followed and stop illegal immigration and our desire to welcome legitimate visitors to the United States,” said INS Commissioner James Ziglar in an agency press release. "While we recognize that the overwhelming majority of people who come to the United States as visitors are honest and law abiding, the events of September 11 remind us that there will always be those who seek to cause us harm."

The new rules will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register

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