The Immigration and Natural-ization Service announced a new deadline Friday extending the time that part-time foreign students may study at American universities.
Mexicans and Canadians atten-ding U.S. universities as part-time students will be allowed to complete this year’s courses, following the agency’s decision to extend deadlines.
“Recognizing the unique nature of the border communities and the need to serve the educational interests of the students living on both sides of the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders, the compliance date is hereby extended to Dec. 31, 2002,” stated an INS memo dated Aug. 7.
Part-time international students will be able to attend classes through the end of the year if they were enrolled in their academic programs as of May 22.
This is the second INS deadline extension. The original deadline was in May, but was extended to Aug. 15.
International students are required to have a visa to attend colleges in the United States. However, only applicants who are registered as full-time are granted student visas. Although part-time enrollment has always been illegal, it has only recently been enforced.
Daniel Kane, spokesman for the INS, said the agency is working with Congress on this issue.
“We recognize the situation, and we’re working with everyone involved to see what we can do,” Kane said.
U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., has proposed the Border Com- muter Student Act, which would create a non-immigrant classification for Canadian and Mexican part-time commuter students.
Neena Moorjani, spokeswoman for Kolbe, said allowing these students access to education benefits all sides.
“It benefits the American economy because students shop and eat in the areas they attend school,” she said. “It benefits Mexico’s economy, because students who learn English go back and contribute to their economy.”
She said she expects quick action on the proposal when Congress resumes its activities in September.
Bruce D. Leftwich, vice president of government relations for the Career College Association, said he supports both the extension of the deadline and the proposal.
“It gives our Canadian and Mexican neighbors a chance to come and attend colleges and universities here at the border and go back,” Leftwich said. “The liberation of all is good education.”
He also said the policy would not be without security measures.
“We want to make certain that all the bells and whistles – all the snake traps – are set in place to make sure borders are secure and the right people are coming in,” Leftwich said.
David Austin, representative for the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition, said he supports the Border Commuter Student Act and the INS decision to extend the deadline, since ending part-time studies would be detrimental to international students.
“It really creates a tremendous burden on the students and the universities they attend,” he said. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to the events of Sept. 11.”
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