5 Questions with Lynne Vanahill
Lynne Vanahill is an associate director and SEVIS coordinator in the office of International Student Services at the University of Kansas. She has been with the office for 16 years. KU has slightly over 2,100 international students with approximately 1,800 of those being F-1. Vanahill oversees SEVIS compliance as well as advises students. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Counselor Education with an emphasis in College Student Personnel from Emporia State University. Vanahill currently serves on the NAFSA Trainer Corps and has presented numerous regulatory workshops at both the regional and national levels.
How would you describe your job?
I primarily oversee KU’s compliance with our federal reporting requirements through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) for F-1 and J-1 international students. I also advise international students on immigration related topics such as extending I-20 and DS-2019 documents, applying for practical training work permits in one’s field of study or anything else that has to do with one’s legal status while here. Lastly I oversee all document production (I-20 and DS-2019s) for all incoming new students.
How do changing immigration regulations impact your work?
Actually we haven’t had any new regulations regarding F-1 students for several years. The latest major changes were back in 2008. We’ve been expecting new regulations any day for the last few years that will be major overhauls of the existing regulations.
What is your favorite experience of working with international students?
The variety. I never have a dull day. Although regulations haven’t changed significantly for years, interpretations and policy guidance are regularly changing. Almost daily I encounter a new experience or situation that makes me ponder.
What fact about International Student Services might surprise people?
We’ve been serving international students since the 1950s.
What advice do you have for someone interested in entering your field?
Your favorite color must be gray. Just kidding, but you must be comfortable (and maybe secretly love) ambiguity. The regulations are ambiguous and we’re constantly swimming in the gray area.