Despite rumors to the contrary, federal agency officials do plan to participate in quite a few annual conference sessions related to international student and scholar advising. Some will be present in St. Louis, where they will also participate in an open meeting, and others will participate virtually or via teleconference. The efforts made by many of the officials to attend in person, including requests for waivers of sequestration-related agency travel prohibitions, and the efforts of others to participate remotely when denied permission to travel, have been heartening.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will participate in sessions on travel and SEVIS hot topics, in addition to an open meeting. A Department of State (DOS) Visa Office official will participate in a workshop, a session on travel issues, a session on intensive English programs, and an open meeting. Officials from DOS’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will participate in a session on Exchange Visitor Program hot topics. Officials from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program will participate virtually in hot topics sessions on student issues, SEVIS I and II, and intensive English programs. Officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will participate through teleconference in sessions on USCIS hot topics and ELIS. The agencies are aware of the need for direct stakeholder engagement and find value in participating whether it is in person or virtually.

The open meeting "Discussion of International Student and Scholar Travel Issues" will provide an opportunity for informal discussion with CBP and DOS officials. You can also hear more about how NAFSA member-leaders are engaging with federal agencies on your behalf throughout the year in the open meeting "The International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee and its work." As always, many other sessions and open meetings will include plenty of information that the agencies have made available to NAFSA.

For more details about the immigration-related sessions, workshops, and events at the annual conference, see the Immigration Updates and Sessions page of the NAFSA website. There you’ll find the Immigration Update and Session Guide, a great tool you can use to prepare for the conference so that you are up to speed on hot topics and can easily join the conversation. Even if you are not attending the conference, this is an excellent resource for you.

See you in St. Louis!