Yale officials said they are pleased with the compromise legislation announced by the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., had proposed a temporary ban on visas for students from the seven countries the State Department considers sponsors of terrorism.
In a less exacting proposal, Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., had introduced a bill increasing the scrutiny of student visas. The compromise bill generally bans students from the seven countries — Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria — but allows for case by case exceptions.
There are currently no Yale students or scholars from those countries, said Ann Kuhlman, the director of Yale’s Office of International Students and Scholars.
“For the higher education community, this is much more preferable than a wholesale ban,” Kuhlman said.
Richard Jacob, Yale’s associate vice president for federal relations, agreed.
“It follows the recommendations that we have made of where there are special concerns about students from certain countries, additional background checks, additional staff and additional training make sense as opposed to really closing the door on student immigration,” Jacob said.
Jacob said it is unclear whether the Senate will act on this bill before the end of this session. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, however, must be up and running by January 2003 in accordance with the USA Patriot Act, Kuhlman said.
The program will facilitate communication between schools and the Immigration and Naturalization Service about the status of international students and scholars.
Kuhlman said the question of who is going to pay for stricter monitoring of student activity is still undecided.
Last spring, Congress had proposed requiring international students to pay a $95 fee to offset the cost of implementing the new program.
Kuhlman said she felt that Yale would consider helping students with the fee if the United States places the financial burden on students.