Exchange Visitor Program

The Senate last week passed its version of legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in FY 2006 at $31.86 billion, an increase of $1.29 billion over the President’s budget request, and $1.06 billion above the House approved version of the bill. The House passed its bill in May.

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Meeting date: March 29, 2005
Place: American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS
Task Force chair: Elizabeth Chazottes, AIPT

Over 50 Alliance members convened on March 29 for the J Task Force meeting. Elizabeth Chazottes, Executive Director of the Association for International Practical Training and Alliance vice chair, serves as the task force chair. Susan Geary, DHS Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) Acting Director, and Stanley Colvin, Acting Director of the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation at ECA, addressed the group in the afternoon. A summary of the meeting follows:

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Witnesses at a joint hearing of the House Education Subcommittees on 21 st Century Competitiveness and Select Education yesterday reported on improvements in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), while noting that some changes still need to be addressed.

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month approved the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for FY 2006 and 2007, which includes authorization of the President’s budget request of $430.4 million for educational and cultural exchanges. The legislation, which was recently made public, also adopts some of the key visa provisions of the American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now (ACTION) Act legislation, recently introduced by Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and aimed at reversing the decline of foreign students in the U.S.

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month approved the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for FY 2006 and 2007, which includes authorization of the President’s budget request of $430.4 million for educational and cultural exchanges. The legislation, which was recently made public, also adopts some of the key visa provisions of the American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now (ACTION) Act legislation, recently introduced by Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and aimed at reversing the decline of foreign students in the U.S.

Full text available to Alliance Members. Please use the "Member Log In" form on the left.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month approved the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for FY 2006 and 2007, which includes authorization of the President’s budget request of $430.4 million for educational and cultural exchanges. The legislation, which was recently made public, also adopts some of the key visa provisions of the American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now (ACTION) Act legislation, recently introduced by Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and aimed at reversing the decline of foreign students in the U.S.

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The Alliance’s fifth annual Advocacy Day was held on February 17, 2005, in conjunction with the Association for International Education Administrators (AIEA), an Alliance member representing the chief international officers on campuses throughout the United States. This was the second year of the successful collaboration between the Alliance and AIEA. The event drew 136 participants to Washington, D.C., the highest number of participants to date. Eighty-two Alliance members and 54 AIEA members attended Advocacy Day. They visited more than 130 House and Senate offices on Capitol Hill, representing 28 states. While most members met with a staff representative in the congressional office, a number of members met directly with their Representative and/or Senator.

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Seeking to reverse the decline in the number of international students studying at American colleges, universities, and high schools, Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now Act of 2005, also known as the ACTION Act of 2005, on February 17. The legislation calls for improvements in visa processing, including allowing U.S. embassies more discretion in waiving visa interviews, amending a 50-year old provision which requires consular officers to presume prospective foreign students are intending immigrants, reducing SEVIS fees for short-term visitors, and providing latitude to consular officers to issue visitor rather than student visas to some short-term English language students. The bill also sets standards for timeliness in security reviews of pending applications.

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President Bush’s FY 2006 budget released this morning, requests $430.4 million for the educational and cultural exchange programs at the Department of State, an increase of $74.46 million over the $355.9 million level enacted in FY 2005. While Congress appropriated $360.75 million for FY 2005, an across the board recession applied to programs in the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations legislation resulted in a funding level of $355.9 million for exchanges. The amount requested by President Bush for FY 2006 is $85 million above last year’s budget request of $345.346 million. The President’s overall budget for FY 2006 cuts discretionary spending other than defense and homeland security by nearly one per cent, eliminating or severely cutting back on as many as 150 domestic programs.

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Acting on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report, the intelligence legislation approved by Congress this week calls on the U.S. to “significantly increase its investment” in people-to-people programs, including youth exchange programs, young ambassadors programs, international visitor programs, academic and cultural exchange programs, American Corner programs, library programs, journalist exchange programs, sister city programs, and other programs related to people-to-people diplomacy. The legislation also calls on the Secretary of State to make public diplomacy “an integral component in the planning and execution of U.S. foreign policy” and to develop a comprehensive and coherent strategy for public diplomacy with long-term measurable objectives. It also codifies the interview process for nonimmigrant visas.

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