There are two lessons:
• Lesson 2: Nonimmigrant Student Arrival and
Change of Status
1: Applying to Become a Nonimmigrant Student
This Lesson looks at the responsibilities of the prospective nonimmigrant student and the school during the admission process.
events must take place before a prospective nonimmigrant student may attend
school in the
• The prospective student applies to one or more SEVP-certified schools
• Each school determines if the prospective student fully meets its admission requirements and has the financial ability to pay for the education and living expenses
• If admission and financial requirements are met, each school that admits the student creates an Initial SEVIS record and issues a Form I-20 for the student
• Each school sends a copy of its Form I-20, signed by a DSO, to the prospective student
• The prospective student chooses a school and
pays the SEVIS I-901 fee. (See the SEVP Web site at www.ice.gov/sevis for a
full list of questions and answers regarding the SEVIS I-901 fee.)
• The prospective student then applies to one of the following:
• The local
• The U.S. POE directly, if the student is a citizen of a visa exempt country; or
• USCIS for a change of status to F-1 or
M-1, if the prospective student is in the
Topic 1: Student Responsibilities
A prospective student begins the process by applying to one or more SEVP-certified schools. Once accepted, the student is responsible for paying the SEVIS I-901 fee and then applying for a visa (unless visa exempt) or a change of status if already in the
After completing this Topic, you will be able to:
• Locate the list of SEVP-certified schools
• Coach a prospective student on how to pay the I-901 fee
• Advise a prospective student of the visa requirements
• Advise a prospective student on how and when
to file for a change of status
Applying to SEVP-Certified Schools
nonimmigrant students outside the
When your school receives an application for admission from a prospective nonimmigrant student, you must determine if the student meets your criteria for admission and has adequate funds to meet tuition and living expenses.
Keep complete records on the students your school accepts. Each accepted student’s record must contain the student’s written application, transcripts or other records of courses taken, proof of financial responsibility and other supporting documents.
Record an accepted student’s specific biographical and financial information in SEVIS. This information, plus information about your school and the prospective student’s program of study, is necessary in order to issue the student a Form I-20.
prospective student may apply to multiple schools and receive a Form I-20 from
each school at which the student is accepted. However, the student must use
only the Form I-20 from the school that he or she intends to attend when paying
the SEVIS I-901 fee and when applying for a student visa.
Paying the SEVIS I-901 Fee
nonimmigrant students must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee prior to applying for a
student visa, applying for student status at a POE or applying for a change of
status within the
• The receipt that can be printed after paying online at http://www.fmjfee.com with a credit card
• The receipt issued by Western Union when
• The Form I-797 receipt
• Through fmjfee.com (allow three business days for the interface with the DOS database to record the payment)
most instances, a nonimmigrant student is required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
Applying for a Student Visa
nonimmigrant students outside of the
A student must bring several items to the interview:
• A signed Form I-20 issued by the school the student plans to attend
• A completed application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. Children need a separate form, even if they are included in a parent's passport.
• A passport valid for at least six months
after the proposed date of entry into the
• One (1) 2"x2" photograph
• A fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee, a visa issuance fee if applicable (please consult the Visa Reciprocity Table located at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/reciprocity/reciprocity_3272.html ) and a separate SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.
Because each prospective student's personal and academic situation differs, consular officials may ask applicants, applying for the same type of visa, for different documents. For that reason, the guidelines that follow are general and may differ based on the applicant.
All applicants should be prepared to provide:
• Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
• Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.; and
• Financial evidence showing that the prospective student or sponsor has sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study. For example:
- If the student or sponsor is a salaried employee, the applicant should bring income tax documents and original bank records and/or statements.
- If the student or sponsor owns a business, the applicant should bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank records and/or statements.
Applicants with dependents must also provide proof of relationship to their spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates).
prefers that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the
spouse and children must apply separately, they should bring a copy of the
student’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.
Module 2: Becoming a Nonimmigrant Student
1: Overview of How a Foreign Visitor
Becomes an F or M nonimmigrant Student
Topic 1: Student Responsibilities
Applying for Entry Into the United States for Visa Exempt Students
nonimmigrant students from visa exempt countries do not need to visit a
exempt nonimmigrant students should be prepared to present all supporting
financial and academic documentation upon arrival at the U.S. POE in order to
be admitted into the
Applying for a Change of Status
can enter the
example, a person may enter the
prospective nonimmigrant student currently in the
Most classes of nonimmigrants can begin studying while their applications for change of status are pending with USCIS. However, those that are currently in B-1, B-2, F-2, or M-2 status cannot begin their studies prior to approval of their change of status. Also, B-1 or B-2 visitors should file for an extension of status if their B-1 or B-2 status will expire while their change of status applications are pending with USCIS or before the study program start date. You can help the applicants check the USCIS Web site to find the current processing times for change of status applications.
students that initially entered as M-1 nonimmigrants are not permitted to
change status to F-1 while in the
Topic 2: School Responsibilities: Creating a SEVIS Record for a Nonimmigrant Student
For an SEVP-certified school to create a Form I-20 for a prospective nonimmigrant student, it must, by law, collect certain information on that student and enter that information into SEVIS.
After completing this Topic, you will be able to:
• Define the terms, Initial and Active record
• Populate and create an Initial Form I-20
• Understand how the system accounts for multiple Forms I-20
• Apply appropriate process for canceling and
terminating SEVIS records
Creating the SEVIS Record
Once your school approves a prospective nonimmigrant student's application for admission, you are required to use the biographical and financial information provided by the student to create an Initial SEVIS record for the student.
SEVIS assigns each student record your school creates a unique SEVIS identification number (SEVIS ID number). SEVIS uses all this information to generate the student’s Form I-20, which includes the SEVIS ID number.
It is critical that you populate the student’s record completely and accurately. Pay particular attention to the name and date of birth fields. SEVP has provided a Data Integrity FAQ (see http://www.ice.gov/sevis/faqs/data_integrity.htm) to assist with this process. Accurate data input ensures data integrity and better data matching with other government databases.
You can enter dependent information only after you create the Initial student’s record. Each dependent, regardless of age, needs a separate SEVIS record. The class of admission for dependents of F-1 students is F-2; the class of admission for dependents of M-1 students is M-2.
adding dependents to a prospective student’s SEVIS record, ensure the financial
section reflects the cost for their support in the funding information area as
well as the source of funding. You must print and mail a unique Form I-20 for
each accompanying dependent. Dependents need the Form I-20 to obtain a visa, if
required, or for a change of status application. They will also need the Form
I-20 to enter the
Once the student’s SEVIS record has been completed in draft status, you must click Submit in order for the record to convert to Initial status and be assigned a SEVIS ID in the system.
If you need to save a draft of a student’s SEVIS record to return to it later, the draft record can be found in the List of Saved Students. Access this list on the Listing of Schools screen, selecting Student Lists, and then selecting Saved Students. (SEVIS automatically deletes a draft record 45 days after its original creation.)
You may choose the student name from the list and then continue to edit the record. An asterisk will precede fields that must be completed. Other fields, such as Admission Number can be updated later.
Once the student’s SEVIS record has been completed in draft status, you must click Submit in order for the record to convert to Initial status in the system.
same screens are used to update and edit information for Active nonimmigrant
Printing and Sending the Initial Form I-20 to the Prospective Student
Once you have produced an Initial SEVIS record for a student, print a copy of the Form I-20 for the student and one for each dependent, if applicable.
You or another DSO must sign all the prospective student’s applicable Forms I-20 generated and send them directly to the student. The signature serves as legal verification that the student has met all the criteria for admission to your school and has proven capability to cover all financial requirements.
addition to sending the Form I-20, you may also want to provide a prospective
student with information about the SEVIS I-901 fee payment, information on the
visa application process, and information on what to expect upon arrival at the
U.S. POE. You should include contact information for all DSOs.
Best Management Practice:
Prepare the student for the POE process. Help avoid a secondary screening by reminding the student to copy and hand carry a set of the travel documents.
A consular official updates a DOS database upon issuance of an F-1 or M-1 visa to a prospective student. DOS sends the visa information to SEVIS via an interface. The interface will automatically update the student’s SEVIS record, if there is an exact match on the name and date of birth. Consistency in the spelling of a student’s name and a correctly entered date of birth ensures that all current and future immigration documents will match.
name of the school the student will attend and the student’s SEVIS ID number is
recorded on the visa. A student in possession of an Initial Form I-20 is
required to enter the
After visa issuance, the system will, ideally, run a check for any Initial records issued by other schools to that student and automatically cancel them. However, you cannot rely on the system to cancel those records or to capture visa information on a student coming to your school, as these updates depend on matching biographical data.
The law requires you to determine if a student has enrolled in your school within 30 days of the program start date. If a student has enrolled, activate the student’s SEVIS record.
If a student does not report to you and/or enroll in classes at your school within the allotted time, you need to cancel or terminate the student’s SEVIS record, as appropriate.
• Cancel: Use cancel when the student has
chosen another school to attend or when you are aware that the student was
unable to enter the
• Terminate: Use terminate when you know the
student entered the
How to Populate the SEVIS Record
After entering all of the data, you have the opportunity to print and review a draft of the Form I-20. This is an excellent opportunity to proofread the entered information before submitting it as a final product. While the data still exists in draft form, you can edit any field.
Once you submit the entered data to the system, you will no longer be able to change the visa type or the education level on M-1 SEVIS records.
If you need to change the program start date for a student at a later date, use the Defer Attendance function (you can also change the program end date). Do not use the Defer Attendance function once a student has entered the country.
Once the student’s information is submitted in SEVIS, print and sign the student’s Form I-20 and send the form directly to the student.
Lesson 1 outlined the steps needed when a prospective nonimmigrant student applies to your school either from overseas or from within the
• A prospective student who is not already in
Present documentation required for entry into the
- Receive documentation to be used as additional proof of legal nonimmigrant status
• Student arrives at school and reports to you
• You activate the student’s record in SEVIS
Deferred Start Date or Students Who Do Not Arrive
students may enter the
who cannot arrive by the program start date listed on the Form I-20 must
contact you, defer their program start date, and get a reprinted Form I-20 for
the deferred start date. You should not defer the program start date of a
student who does not report to school by the program start date but has POE
data on his or her SEVIS record indicating entrance into the
This action allows the student to begin later than initially expected or can allow the student to arrive for a future semester. The student will need to receive a new Form I-20.
If the program start date has passed, the student has not contacted the school, and there is no evidence in SEVIS that the student has passed through the POE, cancel the student’s SEVIS record. If the student subsequently contacts the school and still plans to attend the school, create a new SEVIS record and send the student a new Form I-20 with the updated information.
While it is possible that the POE will allow the student to enter after the program start date, if the record has been cancelled, you will not be able to activate it if the student reports to your school. You will have to request a data fix.
SEVP verifies that the student has entered through a POE and is able to attend
school that semester, SEVP will perform a data fix to return the record to
Active status. In this situation, if SEVP determines the student can attend a
session that starts within 30 days, the data fix will defer attendance.
However, if SEVP determines that the student cannot start within 30 days, SEVP
will terminate the SEVIS record and the student must leave within 15 days. The
school can issue the student a new SEVIS record for attendance for the next
Documentation Required for Entry Into
Upon arrival at the U.S. POE, the prospective student must present the following:
• A Form I-20, signed by a DSO, from the school the student will attend
• A valid visa containing the SEVIS ID and the name of the school the student will attend (unless the student is visa exempt)
• Financial documentation as evidence of ability to pay tuition and living expenses
• A valid passport
• Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee
The prospective student must furnish the above documentation during POE inspection. CBP officers at the POE sometimes take nonimmigrants aside for further inspection. This is referred to as secondary inspection.
exempt nonimmigrants, including citizens of
• Apply directly at the POE for a determination
of their eligibility to enter the
• Present all the documents listed on the previous page except for the visa
• Provide proof that they paid the SEVIS I-901
fee prior to arrival in the
full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all
Canadian citizens will have to present a valid passport to enter the
The Form I-94 expiration date depends on whether it is issued to an F-1 or M-1 student.
F-1 Student: Form I-94 issued to an F-1 student is issued for “duration of status.” Duration of status “D/S” is notated on the student’s Form I-94 and Form I-20. For an F-1 student, duration of status is the time during which the student is enrolled in a full course of study plus any authorized practical training, and following that, authorized time to depart the country. An F-1 student may also elect to extend status by transferring or changing level to another program of study.
Student: Form I-94 issued to an M-1 student is issued for one year or the
duration of the program plus 30 days, whichever date is earlier. By the date
indicated, the student must leave the country or apply to USCIS for an
extension of status. USCIS may grant extensions for the time needed to complete
the program up to a maximum of one year at a time. The module covering program
length extensions and reductions has more information.
POE Data Entry
officers enter the following information into a DHS database upon admitting a
nonimmigrant student into the
• Date of entry
• Form I-94 admission number
Operational interfaces update student SEVIS records with POE data. As with the visa information, this interface depends on matching a student’s biographical data. When POE information successfully posts, you will receive an alert in SEVIS under the title, “Students in Initial Status With POE Records.” This alert lets you know that a student has entered the country and to expect the student to report to the school by the program start date on the Form I-20.
the interface is dependent upon accurate matching, it is important that you ask
all nonimmigrant students to report to your office immediately upon arrival in
Form I-515 Entry Process
students forget to bring all of the required documentation to present at the
POE. For example, a student may not have proof that they paid the SEVIS I-901
fee prior to arrival or the student’s Form I-20 may lack the signature of a
DSO. Using discretion, the inspecting CBP officer at the POE has the option to
deny the nonimmigrant student entry into the
Form I-515 allows for a deferred inspection of a prospective nonimmigrant
student’s entry into the
will determine if the deficiencies have been corrected. If they have, the
student’s Form I-94 will be updated to show the normal term of status. If SEVP
determines the student did not provide sufficient proof of admissibility, the
student must depart the
The Form I-515:
• Is entered into a central database for tracking, and
• Expires in 30 days if the student does not provide the required paperwork and evidence to SEVP.
You and the student should read the instructions on the Form I-515 carefully and mail it to the address listed on the form. If the student does not provide the required documentation within 30 days, he or she must leave the country.
With the exception of B-1, B-2, F-2, and M-2 nonimmigrants, intending students who have properly filed a Form I-539 with USCIS to change their status to F-1 or M-1 may begin classes prior to the adjudication of the change of status application.
After completing this Topic, you will be able to:
• Know which nonimmigrants cannot enroll in school while a change of status is pending with USCIS
• Know what form is used by students filing for
a change of status
Deferring the Program Start Date during USCIS Adjudication
In order for a prospective student to file a change of status, you must create a SEVIS record and print a Form I-20 for submission with the Form I-539. This puts the student’s SEVIS record in Initial status. You should not activate these Initial SEVIS records until USCIS has favorably adjudicated the change of status application.
Defer the program start date when a student is within five working days of their program start date and USCIS has not adjudicated the change of status. If the student is nearing the end of their current status, advise them to file for an extension of status to the next program start date.
Deferring the program start date keeps the record from canceling while the Form I-539 is pending with USCIS. So long as the change of status application is pending with the USCIS, the student's name will display on the associated lists of students.
should make sure that new nonimmigrant students know to report to your office
upon arriving in the
After completing this Topic, you will be able to:
• Know when to make a SEVIS record Active
• Know when to terminate a SEVIS record for No Show
• Know when to cancel an Initial SEVIS record
• Know when and how to defer attendance
• Know when a petitioning nonimmigrant for a change to F-1 status may begin classes
• Know what action to take in SEVIS when reporting on a student with an Initial SEVIS record.
• Report the nonimmigrant student as enrolled
in a program of study at the school by setting the SEVIS record to Active
SEVIS automatically cancels or terminates a SEVIS record if it is still in Initial status 60 days after the program start date. If the prospective student is still planning to enter the
New (Initial) students can be found in the list of Initial Status Students.
the Registration function shown on the student record screen to update SEVIS to
show that a student has arrived and registered. The word session as used
through out this topic is synonymous with term, semester, quarter, etc.
Data Field: Current Session End Date
Instructions: Using MM/DD/YYYY format, enter the end date
for the current academic session. If the student is in the last session of his
or her program, check the associated box and do not enter a next session start
Data Field: Next Session Start Date
Instructions: Using MM/DD/YYYY format, enter the start date
for the student’s next academic session. If the student will be on vacation for
the summer session, use the beginning date of the fall/winter session.
Instructions: Enter the student’s physical
may use a Post Office box as a
Data Field: Foreign Address
Instructions: Update the student’s foreign address. All
nonimmigrant students must maintain a foreign address, even if they currently
reside in the
Data Field: Passport Number, Passport Issuing Country, Passport Expiration Date
Instructions: Passport information is optional. However, it
is useful and initial registration is a good time to collect this information.
Data Field: Visa Number, Post/Country of Visa Issuance, Visa Expiration Date
Instructions: If a student was issued a visa, an interface with the DOS should provide this information. However, because the interface depends upon exact matching information, it may not update SEVIS. You will be unable to modify any fields populated by interface in this section. You will only be permitted to populate unpopulated fields with this information.
the information did not post automatically, it is a good practice to enter the
Data Field: Admission Number, Port of Entry, Date of Entry
Instructions: This information can be found on the student’s Form I-94. When the interface did not add this information to the student’s SEVIS record, it is a good practice to enter this information manually.
will be unable to modify any fields populated by interface in this section. You
can add information if the field is blank.
Data Field: Remarks
Instructions: Enter any applicable remarks regarding the student. Any time a school official adds remarks the existing remarks will be overridden. Remarks print in Field 9 of the Form I-20.
Best Management Practice
It is good practice to make copies of the student’s
Form I-20, visa, passport, Form I-94 and any other required documentation at
this time, and include these copies in the student’s file.
Reporting in SEVIS on Nonimmigrant Students Who Fail to Report by the Program of Study
There are three general scenarios you will encounter for Initial nonimmigrant students who fail to report by the program start date. The Initial student:
• Entered the
• Did not enter the
• Applied for and received a change of status but did not report for the current program start date as expected
there is evidence that a student entered the
When a student with an approved change of status and a record in Initial status fails to report to your campus as expected by the program start date, terminate the student’s SEVIS record for the reason of No Show - Manual Termination.
a student is unable to enter the
The student will not be able to use the Canceled SEVIS record to get a visa or enter the country. The prospective nonimmigrant student must obtain a new Form I-20 if he or she still wishes to become a nonimmigrant student.
An Initial student must report by the program start date listed on the Form I-20. However, if an Initial student arrives at your school and decides to transfer, work with the student to facilitate the transfer of his or her SEVIS record. Transfers are covered in greater detail later in this course. You can also find information on the transfer of Initial students in the F-1 Transfer FAQ, which is found on the SEVP Web site.
Module 2 built upon the procedural information presented in the previous module by providing detailed information about each of the steps. Additionally Module 2 provided you with the step by step directions necessary to complete specific documents such as the Form I-20 as well as instructions for data entry for specific situations you may encounter throughout the admission process.