- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

University officials are alerting the more than 12,000 foreign nationals studying in the metropolitan area that they may have to re-register for student visas by Monday, the deadline set last month by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

"The new registration requirements are posted on the Federal Register, but nobody reads that," said John B. Childers, president and CEO of the Consortium of Universities for the Washington Metropolitan Area. "And with final exams and papers due about this time, [the deadline notice] is easily missed."

Under the requirements posted in the Nov. 6 Federal Register, men born before Dec. 2, 1986, who entered the United States on or before Sept. 30 from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Libya which are considered at high risk for terrorism must register in person at an INS office by Monday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft later extended the requirement to men from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen who intend to stay in this country at least until Jan. 10.

Persons meeting the criteria must be fingerprinted and photographed, and be able to provide detailed information about their backgrounds and the purpose of their stay.

The order does not apply to permanent residents, those persons with INS "green cards," naturalized citizens, diplomats and persons who are seeking or were granted political asylum in the country.

"We have seen a productive and successful registration process for those temporary foreign visitors under the new regulation," a Justice Department official said. "Most required have been doing so over the past month."

Noncompliance can result in loss of nonimmigrant status and deportation, Mr. Childers said.

"I urge all of our students to follow up with appropriate officials on your campus to make sure that affected students and staff comply with the attorney general's order," consortium spokesman Reggie Sanders said.

Only the INS office at 4420 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington handles registration in the metropolitan area.

Justice officials would not say how many persons in the region fall under the requirement and would not disclose how many have registered or have yet to meet the requirement.

Local university officials said new U.S. immigration policies under the Student Exchange Visa Information System have hurt enrollment.

One of the biggest problems, said an official at American University, is that students who are trying to return from their homelands are having trouble getting into the United States.

"By and large, the enrollment problems we've had are not related to this new regulation, but there are several new policies. And some of them have affected our Middle Eastern students," said Fanta Aw, director of international student services for American University.

Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

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