The Department of Homeland Security unveiled a new website last week to help ease the admission process for international students applying to American universities.

According to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the Study in the States website will be a “one-stop shop” for international students looking for relevant information about student visa and exchange visitor programs.

“Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities is an important part of our nation’s economic, scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness,” Napolitano said in a press release.

Study in the States provides students with a variety of resources, ranging from what to expect upon arriving at a U.S. port of entry to information on applying for a student visa. Prior to the website’s launch, students had to navigate between sites from multiple government agencies in order to find the materials they needed, often receiving conflicting information.

DHS intends for the website to be interactive, linking with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The website also features a blog with videos, public service announcements, relevant news and helpful tips.

The university’s Director of International Student and Scholar Services Helene Robertson said that if students can find the information they need in one convenient location, they will avoid less authentic sources.

“There are a lot of companies and immigration attorneys who are looking to make some money off of international students by giving them the same information that they could find for free on a government site,” Robertson said.

Robertson said that she thinks Georgetown’s Office of International Programs, which provides a number of support services to international students, could benefit from the website’s centralized source of information.

“A challenge that a lot of universities face is making sure that the information they give to students is up-to-date and reflects the latest thinking of the government. If Study in the States is consistently updated and accurate, then we don’t need to do as much here,” she said, adding that this new website will enable her and her staff to spend more time advising students.

Shuo Yan Tan (SFS ’12), who came to D.C. from Singapore, said the website would have been helpful during his application process to Georgetown.

“What would have made my experience easier would be a centralized database on all aspects of U.S. schools, such as academics, food, weather and student life,” he said.

Lynn Screen, director of admissions for Georgetown’s English as a Foreign Language program, which brings over 400 English language learners to campus each year, said the site will make entering the United States easier for students who are still developing their English language skills.

“Up until now, it has been up to the EFL department to explain these processes and rules to our students in a manner that even low-level English students can understand,” Screen said, noting that many necessary processes — such as filling out forms — can be especially confusing for EFL students.

“Study in the States addressed these issues as they pertain to this special population. I hope this new website will empower my students to help themselves better navigate our system,” she added.

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