On Jan. 1, a new act of Congress will go into effect that will change the way universities nationwide monitor and interact with their international students, scholars and staff.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was passed in response to the government's growing concern about illegal immigration and illegal workers. The act places increased responsibilities on institutions like Hopkins to track foreigners associated with them and imposes severe sanctions on those that do not comply with the new legislation. These sanctions include fines in excess of $10,000, loss of federally funded grants and, ultimately, the revocation of the privilege to enroll or employ foreign nationals.
It also establishes harsh penalties for foreign visitors who violate immigration regulations, including barring from re-entry for three to 10 years those who remain in the United States without authorization for 180 days or more.
At Hopkins, the new law affects about 3,000 international faculty, staff and students, said Edgar Roulhac, vice provost for academic services and chair of a university-wide task force dealing with the new law. The task force was established in May 1997 by Provost Steven Knapp to determine how to best serve Hopkins' international population and to carry out compliance measures in light of what the task force's report calls "these onerous Immigration and Naturalization Service requirements."
Also affected at Hopkins are all those who hire, enroll and track the presence of non-U.S. citizens.
Said Roulhac, "Our international guests are vital to Hopkins' reputation and its function as one of the world's most distinguished institutions of education, research and clinical care. Our intention is to cushion the effect of this legislation, making it possible for our international population to experience success, whether they are working in the classroom, a lab or an office."
In a report submitted on Nov. 1, the task force presented 19 recommendations that will be implemented in the coming months. According to President William R. Brody, these include adjustments to student registration and university payroll systems; commitment to educating those affected by the act and to training those responsible for implementing the various components of the new regulations; and the dedication of resources required to achieve the operational adjustments the law demands.
As the recommendations are carried out, Brody said, all those involved will receive information about changes within their areas of responsibility.
In the question-and-answer report that follows, the task force addresses the most pressing issues at this time. The full task force report will soon be available on the Internet, and foreign citizens will be able to receive important INS reminders and alerts via campus e-mail.
What is the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996?
The act represents the latest legislation passed by the U.S. Congress concerning the presence and treatment of foreign nationals in the United States.
Congress passed the act in response to growing concerns about illegal immigration and illegal employment in the United States. In order to accomplish the act's goal, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has increased the monitoring of non-citizens in the United States and can impose severe sanctions on institutions that employ foreign nationals in an unauthorized fashion.
Who is impacted by the act?
The act primarily impacts non-U.S. citizens in F-1 and J-1 visa statuses who study, research or train in the United States and the institutions that admit or hire them. The act penalizes foreign nationals who remain in the United States beyond their period of authorized stay. Institutions and international visitors who adhere to the act's requirements will not experience any problems.
What sections of the act are of interest to me and my international colleagues?
In general, there are three sections of primary interest to the Hopkins community. The intent of each section is to see that foreign citizens maintain their legal status and extend their documents in a timely manner.
On Jan. 1, what does an international visitor and anyone responsible for bringing foreign nationals to Hopkins need to do?
If you are a foreign scholar, staff member or student and your visa status is up to date, you don't have to do anything. However, if you are a non-U.S. citizen who has questions or concerns about your status, contact one of the international services offices promptly; university employees who admit or hire foreigners should contact an international services office for help in how to properly handle the process (see sidebar below).
How will institutions collect and report information on non-U.S. citizens to the Immigration and Naturalization Service?
The act has established an electronic tracking system that institutions must use to meet the reporting requirements of the act. Currently, a prototype of this system, called CIPRIS, is being tested in the southeastern United States and is expected to be implemented nationwide sometime in 1998.
What administrative changes will take place to ensure that Hopkins is in compliance with the new immigration act?
Currently, adjustments are being made to our student registration and payroll systems; educational programs are being planned for those affected by the act; and hardware and software are being upgraded to meet the act's electronic reporting requirements.
What changes does the act make to the employment eligibility verification process (I-9 form completion)?
The act makes certain technical changes to the documents considered acceptable for employment eligibility verification. Beyond that, however, we can anticipate increased scrutiny of our compliance with I-9 requirements. As an employer, we are strictly prohibited from placing on payroll anyone who has not completed the verification process in person at Johns Hopkins.
What other changes must the institution make to strengthen its accountability and compliance with the act?
Hopkins will perform an in-depth institutional review of current policies, procedures and work flow regarding INS information management, I-9 verification, employment eligibility, taxation and personal I.D. number assignment and will make changes to its policies and procedures as necessary.
What happens if Hopkins is found in non-compliance with the act?
Sanctions imposed on institutions by the federal government for non-compliance may include stiff financial penalties, loss of federal grants and revocation of the privilege to enroll or employ foreign nationals.
Where do I go for more information or assistance?
Johns Hopkins has international services offices at the following locations: the Homewood campus, the Medical Institutions, the School of Advanced International Studies and the Peabody Institute. Staff at each of these offices can address your questions and provide information regarding immigration, employment and tax matters relevant to international students and scholars (see sidebar below).
The Immigration Reform Act: Where To Get HelpHopkins has four international services offices, all of which were represented on the Planning Task Force on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. "We all perform similar duties, but our populations require that we understand the nuances of each of the campus sites," said Nicholas Arrindell, director of International Student and Scholar Services at Homewood.
"It is our goal to continue to provide assistance and guidance to every foreign citizen who is formally part of our university system," he said.
Following is a description of services available in each of the offices. To obtain assistance and guidance in understanding the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, contact the appropriate representative.
The Office of International Student and Scholar Services at Homewood serves undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, associate research scientists and visiting scholars. According to Director Nicholas Arrindell, the majority of the foreign population will take advantage of at least one immigration benefit before leaving the university.
The staff prepares on a regular basis off-campus employment, option practical training, extensions of stay and change of status. The personnel are very much involved with maintaining sound working relationships with INS and U.S. State Department officials. The office prepares H-1 and permanent residency petitions for faculty and associate research scientists.
For more information, contact Arrindell at 410-516-8058.
The Office of International Student, Faculty and Staff Services at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions serves over 2,000 international students, faculty and staff, who are primarily in F, J and H visa status. The office also provides additional services and support for individuals seeking assistance with TN visa status, O-1 visa status, waiver applications and Permanent Resident status.
The OISFSS staff serves internationals in three primary capacities: as advisers concerning immigration rules and regulations; as advocates who are sensitive to the needs of non-immigrants; and as liaisons between non-immigrants and the INS, the U.S. Information Agency, various U.S. embassies abroad and departments/offices at JHMI.
The staff provides advising services to foreign citizens that relate to their particular visa status within the United States, including entrance into the U.S., extensions of stay, work authorization, changes of visa status, reinstatement to legal status, waiver applications, travel authorization/re-entry to U.S., transfers to/from JHMI and accompanying-dependents' issues. In their roles as liaisons, staff members work with government agencies, university department/offices and many other entities to solve various problems, voice certain concerns and/or request appropriate assistance when needed.
For more information, contact Priscilla Vaughan, international affairs adviser, at 410-955-3371.
The International Student Affairs Office at the Peabody Conservatory is responsible for assisting the international student in all areas under the purview of federal regulation. These include the preparation of documents for F-1 student visa applications, assistance in applying for all forms of work authorization and helping the student maintain status through leaves of absence, extensions, transfers and reinstatements. Through International Student Orientation and periodic workshops and mailings, the office keeps students informed about immigration and cultural issues.
Peabody's students are unique in that their education often requires them to perform off campus or to attend international competitions outside the United States. These special needs require that the student be kept well informed as to immigration guidelines and potential penalties for non-compliance. As an additional service, Peabody's International Office provides English as a Second Language courses for those students in need of such assistance.
For more information, contact Janice Shannon, international student adviser, at 410-659-8198.
The School of Advanced International Studies, located in Washington, D.C., works directly with the Immigration Service in Arlington, Va. As SAIS programs are designed for graduate students who have specific interest in international affairs, many students are required to complete an internship with an international organization as part of their graduation requirement. This requires careful synchronization between program demands and time limits.
For more information, contact Betty Beauchamp, registrar, at 202-663-5708.
Planning Task Force on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996Nicholas Arrindell, Director International Student and Scholar Services
Betty Beauchamp, Registrar and Foreign Services Administrator
Patricia Day, Senior Director
Emily Frank, Associate Dean Student Affairs and Undergraduate
Patricia Friend, Assistant General Counsel
Joseph V. LaMonte, Director Microcomputing and Networking
Ronald Mullen, Director of Security
Alethia Randell, Management Information Systems
Edgar Roulhac, Chair
Allison Schelberg, Manager
Janice Shannon, International Student Adviser
Ann Snead, Director Housing and Student Life
Priscilla Vaughan, Office of International Student, Faculty and