INS Now Provides Online Access to Case Status Information

The INS recently launched an online system for viewing the status of cases pending at U.S. Services Centers. This new, web-based method for checking case status provides an alternative to the INS Direct inquiry lines.

The online Case Status Service provides 24-hour access to the latest information about cases pending at INS Service Centers. You can search for the status of your immigration benefits application by entering in the application receipt number assigned to you by the INS. Changes to your case will be posted within minutes; however, only recent case status information is located online.

The Case Status Service provides information for a range of visa applications. For a full list of applications supported, visit

All case status information available online is identical to information provided by the INS’s telephone-based information system, INS Direct. Information online is available in both English and Spanish. Further, all data on the site is secure, and uses the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to provide authentication and confidentiality.

For further information about your application receipt number or the online Case Status Service, please telephone the INS National Customer Service Center at 800.375.5283 or 800.767.1833.

Department of Education and INS Plan to Enact Computer Matching Program to Verify Some Students’ Immigrant Status

The Department of Education soon plans to utilize a computer matching program with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to verify the immigrant status of alien applicants seeking student aid. This plan is pursuant to the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 and the Office of Management and Budget Guidelines on the Conduct of Matching Programs.

The matching program will enable the Department of Education to verify the immigrant status of alens seeking assistance as authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These forms of assistance include: the Federal Pell Grant Program, the Federal Perkins Loan Program; the Federal Work-Study Program; the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program; the Federal Family Education Loan Program; the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program; the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program; and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

The INS is authorized under the authority of Section 103 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to confirm immigrant status from the Alien Status Verification Index (ASVI).

Authorized individuals from the Department of Education will submit electronically the alien registration number and date of birth of each alien applicant for Title IV assistance. The INS will then search the ASVI for a match of records. When a match is found, INS will forward the immigrant status of the applicant to the Department of Education. The Department will then either independently verify the information, or, according to the Department of Education, determine “in accordance with guidance issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget that (i) the information is limited to identification and amount of benefits paid by INS under a Federal benefit program; and (ii) there is a high degree of confidence that the information provided to ED is accurate.”

Alien applicants will have the opportunity to contest the information within 30 days of receiving the notice and 30 days from the day their receipt of the notice has expired.

This matching program will become effective 40 days after an approved copy of the agreement is sent to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget. Public comments on this notice may be sent to: Ms. Edith Bell, Management and Program Analyst, U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, Union Center Plaza, 830 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002-5345

Bureau of Consular Affairs Activates the Interim Student and Exchange Authentication System

The Interim Student and Exchange Authentication System (ISEAS) was implemented by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, as of September 11, 2002. The purpose of the ISEAS is to verify the acceptance for enrollment of foreign students and exchange visitors (and their dependents) seeking to enter the U.S. under the F, J or M temporary visa.

There is a 30-day notification period, ending October 10, 2002, during which institutions and exchange programs will enter required data into the ISEAS. During this 30-day period, the Bureau of Consular Affairs will continue F, J, and M visa processing under current procedures. Electronic acceptance verification by e-mail to the consulate or embassy will also be allowed during this notification period.

Data gathered by the ISEAS will be provided to the INS as part of regularly shared non-immigrant visa data. This interim data system is designed to gather information on F, J, and M temporary visa applicants who have received acceptance data. This data will be reviewed by Consular Officers before they issue visas, to ensure official acceptance status.

The ISEAS also applies to students and exchange visitors applying to return to educational programs begun before September 11, 2002.

The ISEAS is the transitional student and exchange visitor tracking program mandated by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002. It will enable sharing of data between schools/sponsor programs and the Department of State and INS. The ISEAS will remain active until the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is fully operational.

The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act also mandates these eligible schools and exchange programs transmit — via the ISEAS website ( — evidence that a student or exchange visitor has been accepted to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, until SEVIS is fully operational.

New Notice Requires Nonimmigrant Aliens from ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ to Special Registration Requirements

Effective September 11, 2002 certain nonimmigrant aliens from nations considered by the U.S. to be state sponsors of terrorism will be required to partake in special registration requirements at the time they apply for admission to the United States. These new requirements will include fingerprinting and photographing by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), along with periodic registration mandates.

The most recent public notice, dated July 21, 1998, required special registration for certain nonimmigrant aliens from Iran, Iraq, Libya and Sudan. With this new notice, the requirements have expanded and one additional nation, Syria, has been added to the list.

Section 262(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act stated that “all aliens who are age 14 or older and who have not previously been registered and fingerprinted at a consular office abroad … have a duty to apply for registration and to be fingerprinted if they remain in the United States for 30 days or longer.” But, as stated in 8 CFR 264.1(e), general provisions were made to waive this requirement for many immigrants.

The 1998 notice, in response to these general provisions, required that certain nonimmigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria be fingerprinted and photographed by the INS at the port-of-entry. This new notice, effective September 11, 2002, extends that list of nations (now including Syria) and also requires that all nonimmigrants from these five nations register in person after 30 days in the U.S., reregister annually, and register one final time when leaving the U.S.

According to the Department of Justice, “the Attorney General has consulted the Secretary of State in designating these countries. In addition, all the countries covered by this Notice have been designated by the Department of State as state sponsors of terrorism.” These provisions will also apply, according to the Department of Justice, to “any nonimmigrant aliens who a consular officer or an inspecting officer has reason to believe are nationals or citizens of one of the five designated countries.”

For more information on this new notice, please contact Dan Brown at Office of the General Counsel, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 6100, Washington, DC 20536.

INS Announces Interim Rule for Canadian and Mexican Commuter Students

The Immigration and Naturalization Service recently announced an interim rule that will enable both Canadian and Mexican commuter students to participate in part-time study at U.S. schools located within 75 miles of the U.S. border. The purpose of this interim rule is to officially allow Canadian and Mexican nationals who regularly commute across national borders to attend U.S. schools part-time under F-1 or M-1 visa classification.

“Clarifying the legal manner in which part-time students enter the U.S.,” said John Ashcroft, Attorney General, “will benefit not only the students but American schools in the border communities.”

To be eligible under the interim rule, individuals must attend a school approved by the INS and within 75 miles of the U.S. border. Individuals must also obtain Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and must obtain either the F-1 or M-1 Visa, unless otherwise exempt.

“The purpose of this rule is to acknowledge the special relationship between the United States and its neighbors,” said INS Commissioner James Ziglar. “[This rule will] legitimize such study by border commuter students, while placing it within a regulated, controlled process.” Participating schools will be required, as of January 2003, to report through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) relevant information about these part-time students.

Previous to this interim rule, immigration law did not allow entry to aliens wishing to attend U.S. schools part-time as commuters, and scrutiny of this law had become much more strict since September 11. In recognition of this situation, INS will allow parole of all Canadian and Mexican nationals enrolled in U.S. schools up to December 31, 2002. The interim rule will also enable prospective commuter students to attend U.S. schools part-time, as long as they obtain all required documentation.

Comments on this interim rule should be mailed to: Director, Regulations and Forms Services Division, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW, Room 4034, Washington, DC 20536. Comments may be emailed to If you are emailing comments, please include INS No. 2220-02 in the subject heading of your email.