WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hoping to better track foreign visitors and keep out would-be terrorists, immigration officials are tightening student visa rules and proposing shorter U.S. trips for tourists and business travelers.
Effective immediately, any foreigner wishing to study in the United States must have an approved student visa before taking courses, the Immigration and Naturalization Service said Monday.
The INS also is proposing to restrict tourists and business travelers to 30-day visits, down from the current six months.
The INS has been under intense scrutiny since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with some in Congress calling for the agency to be dismantled. Supporters and critics agree that the agency is burdened with conflicting missions to help immigrants enter and stay in the country and to identify and keep out those who try to enter illegally or who may pose a danger.
The restrictions on travelers potentially could affect more than 2 million visits to the United States a year and were immediately criticized by people in the travel industry.
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