DOS Cable Announces the Interim Student and Exchange Authentication System


P 110239Z SEP 02
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS PRIORITY
SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY

UNCLAS STATE 174234

VISAS, FOR CONSULS, ALSO FOR PAO'S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT, KPAO
SUBJECT: THE INTERIM STUDENT AND EXCHANGE AUTHENTICATION
SYSTEM

REF: A) STATE 113328, B) STATE 163094

1. SUMMARY.  ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2002, THE STATE DEPARTMENT WILL INTRODUCE THE INTERIM STUDENT AND EXCHANGE AUTHENTICATION SYSTEM (ISEAS), WHICH WILL MONITOR THE VISA ADJUDICATION PROCESS OF FOREIGN STUDENTS AND EXCHANGE VISITORS WHO ENTER THE UNITED STATES IN F, J, OR M NONIMMIGRANT VISA CATEGORIES.  THE CONTRACTOR CREATING ISEAS ADVISES THAT THE SYSTEM WILL BE OPERATIONAL ON SEPTEMBER 11 AND AVAILABLE TO PARTICIPATING ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND EXCHANGE PROGRAM SPONSORS.  HOWEVER, DUE TO THE VERY SHORT DEVELOPMENT PERIOD MANDATED BY THE LEGISLATION ISEAS CANNOT BE DEPLOYED BEFORE THAT DATE, AND PARTICIPATING ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND PROGRAM SPONSORS WILL BE UNABLE TO ENTER THE REQUIRED DATA INTO THE SYSTEM BEFORE THE STATUTORILY MANDATED DATE.  THEREFORE, FULL ISEAS DEPLOYMENT ON SEPTEMBER 11 COULD RESULT IN AN INTERRUPTION IN THE PROCESSING OF F, J AND M VISAS UNTIL PARTICIPATING ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND PROGRAM SPONSORS HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENTER THE MANDATED DATA INTO ISEAS. BECAUSE NO STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA CAN BE ISSUED ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 UNLESS THE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES "ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE OF DOCUMENTATION OF THE ALIEN'S ACCEPTANCE," DEPARTMENT IS DEVISING BACK-UP PROCEDURES TO ENSURE THAT CONSULAR OFFICERS RECEIVE TIMELY ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT FROM THE SPONSORING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS DURING THE FIRST 30  DAYS THAT ISEAS WILL BE OPERATIONAL, WHILE MINIMIZING THE IMPACT OF ISEAS IMPLEMENTATION ON THE ISSUANCE OF STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR VISAS.  SEE PARA. 14.

2. SECTION 501[C] OF THE ENHANCED BORDER SECURITY AND VISA ENTRY REFORM ACT OF 2002 REQUIRES THAT THE DEPARTMENT ESTABLISH A TRANSITIONAL STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR TRACKING PROGRAM 120 DAYS AFTER ENACTMENT (SEPTEMBER 11, 2002), WHICH WILL REMAIN IN OPERATION UNTIL INS' STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR INFORMATION SYSTEM (SEVIS) IS FULLY OPERATIONAL.  CA/EX/CSD CONTRACTORS ARE NEARING COMPLETION
OF THE ISEAS WEB PAGE, WWW.ISEAS.STATE.GOV, ONTO WHICH APPROVED INSTITUTIONS AND EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAMS CAN ENTER STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR ACCEPTANCE DOCUMENTATION FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE DEPARTMENT.  ADJUDICATING CONSULAR OFFICERS OR CONSULAR STAFF WILL CONFIRM THE PROVENANCE OF FORMS I-20 A/B, I-20 M/N, IAP-66 AND DS-2019 BY CHECKING ISEAS (PER REFTEL B, FORM DS-2019 FULLY REPLACED FORM IAP- 66 ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2002).  DEPARTMENT WILL PROVIDE MORE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE ON THIS PROCESS VISA IN SEPTEL.  END SUMMARY.

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BACKGROUND
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3. ON MAY 14, 2002, THE PRESIDENT SIGNED INTO LAW THE "ENHANCED BORDER SECURITY AND VISA ENTRY REFORM ACT OF 2002" (BORDER SECURITY ACT), PUB. L. 107-173.  SECTION 501[C] OF THE BORDER SECURITY ACT REQUIRES THAT A TRANSITIONAL STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR TRACKING PROGRAM INVOLVING ELECTRONIC DATA SHARING BETWEEN SCHOOLS AND SPONSORS, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE INS BE IN PLACE NOT LATER THAN 120 DAYS AFTER ENACTMENT OF THE ACT.  FURTHER, THAT IT REMAIN IN PLACE UNTIL SEVIS IS FULLY IMPLEMENTED AND PARTICIPATION BY THE ACADEMIC AND EXCHANGE COMMUNITIES IS MANDATORY - A DATE ESTABLISHED BY THE INS AS JANUARY 30, 2003.  ACCORDING TO SECTION 501[C], AN "APPROVED INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION OR OTHER APPROVED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION" MUST PROVIDE STATE WITH ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE OF THE ALIEN'S ACCEPTANCE AT THAT INSTITUTION BEFORE AN F, J OR M VISA CAN BE ISSUED.  UPON ISSUANCE OF THE VISA, STATE MUST TRANSMIT NOTIFICATION OF ISSUANCE TO INS.

4. THE DEPARTMENT HAS DEVELOPED ISEAS IN ORDER TO FULFILL THIS MANDATE TO ESTABLISH AN INTERIM SYSTEM FOR THE ELECTRONIC MONITORING OF THE FOREIGN STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA ISSUANCE PROCESS UNTIL SEVIS IS OPERATIONAL. ISEAS WILL BE THE MEANS BY WHICH THE DEPARTMENT, APPROVED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND EXCHANGE PROGRAM SPONSORS MEET
THE LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS OF 501[C].  ISEAS WILL BE OPERATIONAL ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2002; THE DEPARTMENT WILL PROVIDE MORE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE ON THIS PROCESS SEPTEL. THAT PORTION OF THE SECTION 501[C] MANDATE THAT REQUIRES THE DEPARTMENT TO INFORM INS OF F, M OR J VISA ISSUANCE WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED USING THE EXISTING DATASHARE LINK.

5. ISEAS IS BEING ESTABLISHED AS AN INTERIM SYSTEM, WITH THE LIMITED SUPPORT AND CAPACITY IMPLIED BY THE TERM. THEREFORE, IT IS LIKELY THAT ISEAS WILL STAND ALONE FOR ITS ENTIRE LIFETIME, AND WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SHARE ANY DATA WITH SEVIS.  AS THE DATE FOR  MANDATORY SEVIS COMPLIANCE GROWS NEAR, AND MORE AND MORE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND DESIGNATED PROGRAM SPONSORS BECOME SEVIS COMPLIANT, WE WILL
FIND OURSELVES IN A SITUATION WHERE DESIGNATED OFFICIALS WILL HAVE TO REPORT FORM I-20/IAP-66/DS-2019 ISSUANCES INTO TWO SEPARATE DATABASES, (ISEAS AND SEVIS) AND CONSULAR OFFICERS WILL HAVE TO CHECK BOTH DATA BASES TO CONFIRM THE PROVENANCE OF THOSE DOCUMENTS, UNTIL ISEAS SUNSETS ON JANUARY 30, 2003.

6. BECAUSE THE ACT WAS PASSED AND SIGNED IN MAY 2002, RATHER THAN DECEMBER 2001 AS ANTICIPATED BY ITS DRAFTERS, "120 DAYS AFTER PASSAGE OF THE ACT" IS SEPTEMBER 11, 2002. AS THE INS LAUNCHED SEVIS AS A VOLUNTARY SYSTEM ON JULY 1, 2002, WHAT WAS INTENDED TO BE STRICTLY A TRANSITIONAL PROGRAM HAS BECOME IN PRACTICAL TERMS A PARALLEL REQUIREMENT ON THE ACADEMIC AND EXCHANGE COMMUNITIES, THE DEPARTMENT, AND INS.

7. NOTE: WITH RESPECT TO J VISAS, WHILE SECTION 501[C] OF THE ACT LIMITS ITS PROVISION TO EXCHANGE VISITORS SEEKING TO ATTEND APPROVED INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT HAS DETERMINED THAT ALL EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA APPLICATIONS SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO ISEAS VERIFICATION.  THE DEPARTMENT BASED THIS DETERMINATION ON ITS DESIRE TO MAKE ISEAS REQUIREMENTS IDENTICAL TO SEVIS REQUIREMENTS REGARDING THE PARTICIPATION OF ALL EXCHANGE VISITOR APPLICANTS.  THE DEPARTMENT ALSO BELIEVES THAT THIS DETERMINATION MORE ACCURATELY REFLECTS THE INTENT OF CONGRESS AS EXPRESSED IN THE USA PATRIOT ACT AND THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION REFORM AND IMMIGRANT RESPONSIBILITY ACT OF 1996, BOTH OF WHICH CONTAIN PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE ELECTRONIC MONITORING OF STUDENTS AND EXCHANGE VISITORS. END NOTE.

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HOW ISEAS WILL WORK
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8. ALIENS WHO WISH TO OBTAIN VISAS TO STUDY OR PARTICIPATE IN AN EXCHANGE PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATES MUST FIRST APPLY TO AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION OR OTHER INSTITUTION THAT HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE INS (F AND M VISAS) OR THE
DEPARTMENT OF STATE (J VISA).  WHEN A STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR ACCEPTS AN OFFER TO STUDY OR ENGAGE IN OTHER EXCHANGE PROGRAM ACTIVITIES, THE APPROVED INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM SPONSOR MUST COMPLETE THE APPROPRIATE FORM. ACADEMIC OR LANGUAGE INSTITUTIONS MUST COMPLETE THE FORM I-
20 A-B, "CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR NONIMMIGRANT (F-1) STUDENT STATUS."  VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS MUST COMPLETE THE FORM I-20 M-N, "CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR NONIMMIGRANT (M-1) STUDENT STATUS."  DESIGNATED EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAMS MUST COMPLETE FORM DS-2019, "CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR (J-1) STATUS."

9. SECTION 501[C] OF THE BORDER SECURITY ACT REQUIRES THE APPROVED INSTITUTION OR DESIGNATED EXCHANGE PROGRAM SPONSOR TO TRANSMIT ELECTRONICALLY EVIDENCE OF THE APPLICANT'S ACCEPTANCE TO THE DEPARTMENT.  WHEN ISEAS IS LAUNCHED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2002, ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND PROGRAM SPONSORS WILL ENTER CERTAIN INFORMATION FROM THE FORMS I-20 A-B, I-20 M-N OR DS-2019 INTO THE ISEAS WEB APPLICATION (PROVIDED AT WWW.ISEAS.STATE.GOV) FOR TRANSMISSION TO THE DEPARTMENT.  THE INSTITUTION'S OR PROGRAM'S DESIGNATED OFFICIAL WILL FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR ENTERING STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR IDENTIFICATION DATA.

10. AS CURRENTLY ENVISIONED, THE ISEAS SYSTEM WILL CONSIST OF TWO INDEPENDENT COMPUTER BASED SUBSYSTEMS WITH DATA TRANSFERRED BETWEEN THE TWO.  THE FIRST SUBSYSTEM WILL CONTAIN AN INTERNET WEBSITE WITH A DIRECT LINK FOR APPROVED INSTITUTIONS AND EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAMS TO ENTER DATA
FROM THE APPROPRIATE ACCEPTANCE DOCUMENT (FORMS I-20 A/B, I-20 M/N, IAP-66 OR DS-2019).  TO ENSURE DATA INTEGRITY, THE ISEAS INTERNET SUBSYSTEM WILL VALIDATE THE IDENTIFICATION DATA ENTERED BY THE DESIGNATED INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM OFFICIAL AGAINST THE APPROVED LISTS OF INSTITUTIONS OR PROGRAM SPONSORS.  INS APPROVED INSTITUTIONS OR PROGRAM SPONSORS CORRESPOND TO F AND M VISAS AND STATE DEPARTMENT, BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS APPROVED INSTITUTIONS OR PROGRAM SPONSORS
CORRESPOND TO J VISAS.

11. ONCE ISEAS CONFIRMS THAT THE INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM IS ON ONE OF THE APPROVED LISTS, THE DESIGNATED INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM OFFICIAL WILL ENTER CERTAIN STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR DATA CONTAINED ON FORMS I-20 A/B, I-20 M/N, IAP-66 OR DS-2019.  (IN THE CASE OF AN INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPATING IN AN ONGOING J PROGRAM APPLYING FOR A NEW VISA ON THE BASIS OF A FORM IAP-66 ISSUED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 1, 2002, INFORMATION FROM THAT FORM WILL BE ENTERED.  PER REFTEL B, FORMS IAP-66 ISSUED AND DATED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 1, 2002, SHOULD BE ACCEPTED BY CONOFFS IN SUPPORT OF VISA APPLICATIONS.)  ISEAS WILL THEN RETURN A CONFIRMATION NUMBER.  THE INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM SPONSOR USER MUST KEEP A RECORD OF THE CONFIRMATION NUMBER AS PART OF ITS RECORDS.
THE ISEAS CONFIRMATION NUMBER WILL SERVE AS EVIDENCE THAT A PARTICULAR VISA APPLICANT'S DATA HAS BEEN ENTERED INTO THE ISEAS SYSTEM.

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CONSULAR RESPONSIBILITY
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12. CONSULAR SECTIONS WILL USE THE SECOND ISEAS SUBSYSTEM, AN INTRANET APPLICATION RESIDING ON THE DOS OPENNET, TO SEARCH FOR STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR DATA.  THE SEARCH WILL VERIFY THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THE APPLICANT'S FORM I-20 A/B, I-20 M/N, IAP-66 OR DS-2019.  THE SUBSYSTEM WILL ALLOW OFFICERS TO COMPARE THE STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR ACCEPTANCE DOCUMENTATION PRESENTED AT POST WITH AN ISEAS RECORD AND MARK THE APPROPRIATE ISEAS RECORD AS IDENTIFIED.  DEPARTMENT WILL PROVIDE MORE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE
ON THIS PROCESS SEPTEL.  ONCE THE VISA IS ADJUDICATED, VISA ISSUANCE DATA WILL BE TRANSMITTED TO INS AS PART OF THE NIV DATA TRANSFERRED BY DATASHARE TO IBIS/TECS.

13. ONCE ISEAS IS FULLY OPERATIONAL CONSULAR OFFICERS MAY NOT ISSUE AN F, J, OR M VISA UNTIL THEY OR ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE CONSULAR STAFF HAVE REVIEWED THE ACCEPTANCE DATA SUBMITTED TO ISEAS.  THIS INCLUDES STUDENTS/EXCHANGE VISITORS APPLYING FOR VISAS TO RETURN TO ONGOING PROGRAMS WITH PREVIOUSLY ISSUED BUT STILL VALID FORMS I-20 A/B, I-20
M/N, IAP-66 OR DS-2019.  IF THE APPLICANT'S PROGRAM
ACCEPTANCE DATA CANNOT BE VERIFIED IN ISEAS, THE INDIVIDUAL SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO CONTACT HIS OR HER SPONSORING INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM.

14. ISEAS WILL BE OPERATIONAL ON SEPTEMBER 11 AND AVAILABLE TO PARTICIPATING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND EXCHANGE PROGRAM SPONSORS.  HOWEVER, DUE TO THE VERY SHORT ISEAS DEVELOPMENT PERIOD MANDATED BY THE LEGISLATION, THE SYSTEM CANNOT BE DEPLOYED BEFORE THAT DATE, AND PARTICIPATING INSTITUTIONS AND PROGRAM SPONSORS WILL BE UNABLE TO ENTER THE REQUIRED DATA INTO THE SYSTEM BEFORE THE  STATUTORILY MANDATED DATE.  THEREFORE, FULL ISEAS DEPLOYMENT ON SEPTEMBER 11 COULD RESULT IN AN INTERRUPTION IN THE PROCESSING OF F, J AND M VISAS AT A TIME WHEN THESE VISITORS ARE ALREADY SEEING SUBSTANTIAL PROCESSING DELAYS DUE TO SECURITY RELATED CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS.  WHILE THERE MAY BE SOME INSTITUTIONS THAT CAN QUICKLY SATISFY THE
NEW REQUIREMENT USING THE ISEAS SYSTEM, DEPARTMENT EXPECTS THAT THE MAJORITY WILL BE UNABLE TO SO QUICKLY ADD THE REQUIRED DATA INTO ISEAS.  BECAUSE NO STUDENT OR EXCHANGE VISITOR VISAS CAN BE ISSUED ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 UNLESS THE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES "ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE OF DOCUMENTATION OF THE ALIEN'S ACCEPTANCE," THE DEPARTMENT IS DEVISING BACK-UP PROCEDURES TO ENSURE THAT CONSULAR
OFFICERS RECEIVE TIMELY ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION OF
ENROLLMENT FROM THE SPONSORING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS DURING THE FIRST 30  DAYS THAT ISEAS WILL BE OPERATIONAL, I.E. THROUGH OCTOBER 11, 2002, WHILE MINIMIZING THE IMPACT OF ISEAS IMPLEMENTATION ON THE ISSUANCE OF STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR VISAS:

POSTS ARE ADVISED THAT, IN MOST CASES, IF DATA REGARDING  A PARTICULAR F, M OR J VISA APPLICANT IS NOT IN ISEAS,   THE APPLICANT SHOULD BE ADVISED TO CONTACT HIS OR HER  SPONSORING INSTITUTION OR PROGRAM AND ADVISE IT OF THE  NEED TO ENTER DATA INTO ISEAS.  SHOULD THE ISEAS OPTION PROVE UNWORKABLE DURING THE 30-DAY PERIOD, POSTS MAY ACCEPT DIRECT E-MAIL CONFIRMATION OF ACCEPTANCE.

AT THEIR DISCRETION, POSTS MAY SEND E-MAIL INQUIRIES DIRECTLY TO THE SPONSORING INSTITUTIONS AND REQUEST E-MAIL CONFIRMATION OF ENROLLMENT.  POSTS IN MANY CASES MAY BE ABLE TO OBTAIN E-MAIL ADDRESSES USING INTERNET SEARCH ENGINES OR FROM THE VISA APPLICANT DIRECTLY.  CA  AND ECA WILL WORK ON OBTAINING LISTS OF INSTITUTIONAL WEB PAGES, AND WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST CONSULAR OFFICERS IN LOCATING E-MAIL ADDRESSES.

IF POST CANNOT MAKE THE ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION DIRECTLY, THE VISA OFFICE WORKING WITH ECA WILL SEEK THE ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION FROM THE SPONSORING INSTITUTION UPON REQUEST FROM POST.

15. CA, WORKING WITH ECA AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, IS
ALERTING ADMISSIONS OFFICES OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS REGARDING THE NEED FOR ELECTRONIC VERIFICATIONS AND THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY WILL RECEIVE DIRECT REQUESTS FOR VERIFICATION FROM VISA APPLICANTS, CONSULAR OFFICERS OR THE VISA OFFICE IF ENROLLMENT HAS NOT BEEN VERIFIED THROUGH
ISEAS, AND ASKING THAT THEY RESPOND PROMPTLY.  WE WILL USE THIS COMMUNICATION TO FURTHER INFORM THEM OF ISEAS AND ITS REQUIREMENTS.  SEPTEL WILL PROVIDE PUBLIC RELATIONS GUIDANCE WHICH POSTS SHOULD DISSEMINATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

16. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
POWELL       
                                                                           
                 
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