IG says system for tracking foreign students not effective

The Immigration and Naturalization Service's new student tracking system likely will have minimal impact in solving the problem of tracking foreign students in the United States, the Justice Department's inspector general says.

In a report that slammed INS for bungling the processing of visas for flight school students and Sept. 11 terrorist pilots Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the IG analyzed the effect of the Student Exchange and Visitor System. INS is developing SEVIS to track information about foreign students and the State Department's exchange visitor program. The agency plans to bring the system online July 1.

But for SEVIS to function properly, INS must review the schools that will be permitted to accept foreign students, and INS likely won't be able to complete that task by next January as planned, the IG said.

In addition, the agency has not set up a training program for INS employees and employees of the schools, the IG said.

'The INS should ensure that schools are entering timely and accurate information into SEVIS and that specific and sufficient INS personnel are responsible for analyzing the data collected in SEVIS and acting on cases of suspected fraud,' the report said. 'The information is only useful if it is accurate and is used by the INS.'

INS officials declined to comment on SEVIS, and said INS commissioner James Ziglar was preparing a response to the IG report.

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