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SEVIS at Your Service

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which was criticized when it was started by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in July 2002, is now showing signs of improvement, according to the GAO. For example, the number of requests by educational institutions to correct system problems or make enhancements (called system changer requests, or SCRs) is down. Between January 2003 and June 2003, there were six weeks in which more than 20 critical and high-priority SCRs were reported per week. During the second half of that year, that number had dropped to two. User feedback also indicates improved performance.

SEVIS is designed to collect and record data on foreign students, exchange visitors, and their dependents prior to entering the United States. Problems dogging SEVIS early on included user access and the merging of data from one school or exchange visitor program with that from another. These issues no longer come up, according to the GAO study.

Other problems have cropped up, however. These include slow responses to help- desk requests, incorrect help-desk answers to policy questions, and limitations on the amount of data that can be downloaded. In response, DHS has increased help-desk staffing and training, asked user groups to test new system releases, and otherwise aimed to improve performance and user satisfaction.Gao04690_SEVIS1004_0.pdf