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February 1, 2000
Foreign students may have to pay $ 95 entrance fee
A P Kamath
Complaining that many international students default the conditions under which they were issued visas and take less than the required number of credits per semester, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has proposed an entrance fee for new international students.
Students who transfer to another university will have to pay the fee again.
If Congress approves the $ 95 fee, it would become effective this summer. INS officials, who are seeking comments from universities and students, say they will decide on February 22 whether to forward the suggestion to Congress. If Washington accepts the proposal, it will be effective for at least two years.
But several universities have begun protesting against the idea. According to the INS plan, universities are responsible for reminding the students about the fees, collecting it and forwarding it to the INS.
University officials say it will create more paperwork and will cause financial loss to the schools. Some officials feel that by collecting the fee for the INS would give the impression that they are working with INS. Officials are worried that such an impression would alienate them from the goodwill students could have for a school.
But the INS is keen on the fee. Evleen Schmidt, a spokesperson for the INS, told reporters the fee would be used to create a database of information that will keep a more effective tab on international students.
Apart from finding out if the students are taking the required course load, the INS also wants to know if the students are working beyond the 20-hour-per week.
According to Schmidt, the INS is required by Congress to ensure the program funds itself.
Several officials suggested that the INS should ask Congress to fund the program instead of asking international students to pay the $ 95 fee.
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