There’s relief locally that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service offered an extension to Canadian students last Friday that will allow them to cross the border to attend part-time classes in the United States.
“I see it as encouraging,” said Carol Grim, director of Public Information and Development at Rainy River Community College over in International Falls, Mn.
The ruling will affect more than 50 Canadian students in Rainy River District who currently attend RRCC on a part-time basis. It will allow them to complete their studies up until Dec. 31, 2002.
The extension is an about-face for the INS, which began strictly enforcing a regulation barring part-time international students from the U.S. after security concerns arising from the Sept. 11 attacks.
Before Friday’s announcement, the INS only allowed students to complete their 2002 spring semester. Now students can attend another semester of classes with no complications.
“It was offered because we recognize that there are a fair number of people that are enrolled in part-time classes that, for economic reason, cannot attend full-time,” said INS spokesman Tim Counts from his office in Bloomington, Mn.
“We are trying to work toward a permanent resolution to the issue,” he added.
The newly-enforced regulation sparked an outcry among American colleges and universities in border communities who believed the policy was unfair.
Grim contacted both of Minnesota’s senators with regard to the issue.
“Apparently [the INS] got enough heat,” she said. “We will continue to work on getting [the regulation] repealed and have some common sense injected into the issue.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona has proposed Bill HR 4967, which would establish “non-immigrant status” for residents of Canada and Mexico and allow them to attend part-time classes in the U.S.
Although the new part-time student extension runs out at the end of this year, there is no timetable yet for the proposed bill to be voted on in Washington, D.C.