Last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposal to increase student visa costs in order to pay for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This system-as the name implies-amasses information about every student visitor in the United States. Although the cost of obtaining a visa will nearly double for students, $200 is not too hefty of a fee to pay for an education at a U.S. institution. Such a rate increase is necessary to keep SEVIS functioning, and it is sensible to place the burden of the cost of the program on foreign students.
The overall cost of coming to the United States to study and reside is already high, and students should expect to incur a cost to acquire a student visa. Additionally, with the current state of the U.S. dollar, some international students may not find it too difficult to pay for an increase in visa costs. However, students from regions of the world where the U.S. dollar is stronger than the local currency may have a difficult time paying for this increase. Since a majority of international students come from Asian countries where the dollar is stronger, this increase might be a hindrance.
Understanding this difficulty, it is still important that the SEVIS program is kept at a high level of functioning. Even though this will require an extra financial pledge, in this case, a compromise needs to be made between offering affordable student visas and ensuring the security of international students and all American citizens. We believe any effect the increase will have on international students applying for visas will be minimal.
If through SEVIS, we can have an extra piece of mind about who is in the United States, it should continue as long as it is a relevant program. As long as SEVIS does not infringe on basic rights when performing its task of keeping up-to-date with international students, it is still a system that should be supported.