Government officials and representatives from 198
colleges and universities came to the Homewood campus on
Friday to discuss issues related to their international
student and staff populations. Johns Hopkins hosted the
full-day conference — an annual event that has grown
in size each year — to provide a forum for university
officials from Maryland and five neighboring states to
discuss an ever-evolving set of federal regulations to
which schools must adhere in order to stay in
Nearly a dozen government officials, most from the
departments of State and Homeland Security, were scheduled
to speak at the conference, called the Mid-Atlantic
Nicholas Arrindell, director of
and Scholar Services for the Homewood campus, said that
the event served as an information gathering opportunity
for practitioners who are principally responsible for a
school's international student and faculty population.
After 9/11, the U.S. government issued several new
rigid immigration policies intended to more closely track
and scrutinize foreign visitors for the sake of national
security. The university currently has more than 5,300
visiting students, faculty and other scholars enrolled in
its academic divisions.
"One reason an event like this is needed is that the
rules are constantly changing and open to various
interpretation," Arrindell said. "The government itself
does not provide such forums for any part of the
regulations, so there is always misinformation out there.
We see this as a golden opportunity to get information
right from the source."
Specific items discussed included updates regarding
the J-1 exchange visitor's program and the Student and
Exchange Visitor Information System, the Web-based system
for maintaining information on international students and
exchange visitors in the United States. SEVIS is
administered by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, a
division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Also on the agenda were matters pertaining to
permanent residency for internationals and a proposed new
visa category designed to encourage people in the fields of
science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as
STEM, to come to the United States to receive advanced
degrees and to conduct research.
The establishment of a new visa category specifically
designed to increase visibility in STEM areas, with a
direct path to permanent residency, Arrindell said, would
encourage some of the best and brightest to consider the
United States as a first-choice destination to pursue
Given Johns Hopkins' profile internationally,
Arrindell thinks that this new visa category can have a
far-reaching effect on the university's graduate
The event, held in Mudd Hall, featured keynote
speakers Sanford J. Ungar, president of Goucher College;
and Victor Johnson, associate executive director of public
policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Panelists at the workshop included officials from the State
Department, Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services and the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing.
Johns Hopkins has hosted the Mid-Atlantic Immigration
Workshop, which began as a forum for a handful of local
schools, for the past 12 years. The event alternates
between the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses.