After colleges had difficulty inputting data about international students into a new national database, the Immigration and Naturalization Service extended the deadline for registration to Feb. 15.

Yale Office of International Students and Scholars director Ann Kuhlman said the inputting process has proven significantly easier since the extension.

The database, dubbed the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, is part of a new INS initiative to monitor foreign students more carefully.ÊSEVIS was implemented on Jan. 1 and was supposed to replace paper visa forms by Jan. 30. During the extension, colleges were permitted to revert back to the old paper process. Yale’s OISS did not do so, opting to continue using SEVIS throughout the extension period.

SEVIS was created under the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, which requires universities with international students to provide limited biographical information so that the students can be monitored. All students with J-1 and F-1 visa status will be tracked in the system. J-1 student visas are given to those whose financial support is primarily from an external scholarship or fellowship, while F-1 visas are assigned to those whose education is self-funded. Colleges must also enter spouses and children of international students in the database.

With SEVIS, colleges can use the real-time interactive process, or RTI, to input individual student data. Kuhlman said she found that RTI became faster after the deadline extension. The change is most likely a result of INS system enhancements and a reduction in the number of schools using the system because of the extension, Kuhlman said.

“It may be a combination of both,” she said. “For the past two weeks we’ve had a pretty smooth ride with SEVIS.”

Part of the controversy over SEVIS has been the unavailability of batch processing, a faster method of data input that permits colleges to send data electronically in bulk. Because OISS does not have to input data for international students in the Class of 2007 right now, Kuhlman said the office is not overwhelmed. As a result, it can handle using the more time-consuming RTI method, Kuhlman said.

But the process of securing summer employment authorizations is just beginning, which will increase the number of SEVIS entries required.

Kuhlman said she anticipates that batch processing will be implemented within the next 10 days.

“We have the expectation that it will work,” she said. “If not, RTI will be a much less manageable option.”