NKU SEVIS on track despite setbacks

Northern Kentucky University is not among a group of schools across the nation that needed a deadline extension to get online with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Viki Kimball, Director of International Student Affairs, said that while meeting the original Jan. 30 deadline for schools to begin using SEVIS to submit information on new international students wasn’t exactly smooth, her office was able to complete the task.

“We didn’t need the extension,” she said.

Kimball said SEVIS was “really bogged down” over the past few weeks as thousands of schools rushed to get their information entered into the system.

The delays forced her and her staff to work odd hours and she had to call the SEVIS Help Desk several times.

“It was aggravating, no doubt,” she said.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued the extension on Jan. 29, one day before the deadline, after some schools had difficulty using the system.

Schools now have until Feb. 15 to get online with the service.

SEVIS is a system designed to track foreign students when they register for classes in the United States.

Any school that accepts foreign students is required to enter such information as academic status and field of study so that the INS has instantaneous access.

So far, the problems with the system are mainly technical, but there has been at least one serious SEVIS related incident where information was in jeopardy.

Sometime between Jan. 6 and Jan. 17 someone hacked into a server at the University of Kansas and downloaded personal information on 1,450 international students.

According to a news release from the University the files were created during a test of the SEVIS database.

The University sent out packets of information on how to guard against identity theft to the students, fearing that someone would try to use the information illegally.

Kimball said she had not heard of the incident, but had received assurances from the INS that the SEVIS system was secure.

Abdul Kazi, a Pakistani student who handles public relations for the International Student Union (ISU) at NKU said he isn’t worried about the security of the system.

He said the only people who will see the information would be school administrators and the INS.

He said the ISU has discussed SEVIS at its meetings, but no one has had any serious problems.

“I haven’t [heard] any negative comments from people,” he said.

Despite technical glitches, SEVIS does have some benefits.

Both Kimball and Kazi said the system offers faster response times on forms that international students are required to fill out.

“It has its pros and cons,” Kazi said.

KRT Campus contributed to this report.