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Clayton State can continue hosting international students

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given Clayton State University the go-ahead to continue hosting international students, according to John Shiffert, director of university relations at CSU.

Shiffert said Brett Reichert, Clayton State’s associate director of International Student Services, was notified by DHS last week.

“The news comes as the end-result of a process called [Student Exchange and Visitor Information System] SEVIS rectification, which began on May 27, 2011 –– eight months ago,” said Shiffert.

He added that SEVIS is an electronic data-management tool designed for the Department of Homeland Security, to collect, track and monitor information on international students and scholars in the United States.

Individuals at user-campuses, who are approved to access the system, are called Designated School Officials (DSO’s).

Reichert noted that the system was conceived in the late 1990’s, but gained little attention until the first terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993.

He said years later –– in the aftermath of the “9/11” attacks –– it was learned that one of the hijackers who crashed American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon had also exploited the student visa process.

“That attacker had entered the country on a student visa to study, but never showed up at campus,” said Reichert. “SEVIS was quickly digitized and rolled out nationwide by 2003 to address the absence of a timely, automated notification system.”

Shiffert added that SEVIS re-certification allows DHS to maintain a high level of data regarding not only international students and scholars, but also regarding all campuses nationwide, approved to host them.

Reichert said Clayton State has expanded, and added programs and locations since the first SEVIS certification in 2003, and that the re-certification petition has been thoroughly reviewed.

“This is great news,” said Reichert. “Basically, DHS has given Clayton State a stamp of approval, which implies everything from our international application process, to international advising and reporting, to the programs and locations we offer today, are in good standing.”

Shiffert said SEVIS is run by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is part of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, he added, there were 15,539 international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the state of Georgia, with an annual economic impact of nearly $430 million.