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Student and Exchange Visitor Program
04/29/2015

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New rule permits US schools to increase number of designated school officials

Dependents of international students can also enroll in classes

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to improve management of international student programs and increase opportunities for study by spouses and children of international students.

In order to be certified by SEVP to enroll international students, U.S. schools must nominate a designated school official to serve as a liaison between the school and SEVP. This individual is responsible for maintaining international students’ records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and ensuring schools comply with U.S. laws and regulations governing international students studying in the U.S.

Under the amended regulations, SEVP-certified schools have greater flexibility in determining how many designated school officials to nominate. Previously, SEVP-certified schools could only nominate a maximum of 10 designated schools officials. The new regulation removes the cap and permits SEVP-certified schools to nominate an appropriate number of designated school officials based on their school’s specific needs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, must review each nominee and maintains discretion on whether to approve or deny the nomination.

Additionally, the new rule permits dependents of international students to engage in study at SEVP-certified schools in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study.

This new rule stems from recommendations provided to the DHS Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council.

"This final rule improves the capability of schools to assist their international students in maintaining nonimmigrant status. The rule also increases the attractiveness of studying in the United States for international students by broadening study opportunities for their spouses and children," said Lou Farrell, SEVP director.

SEVP is part of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The program monitors approximately one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the United States and their dependents. It also certifies schools and programs that enroll these students.

SEVP uses SEVIS to protect national security by ensuring that students, visitors and schools comply with U.S. laws. SEVP also collects and shares SEVIS information with government partners, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, so only legitimate international students and exchange visitors gain entry into the United States.

HSI reviews SEVIS records for possible violations and refers cases with potential national security or public safety concerns to its field offices for further investigation. Additionally, SEVP’s Analysis and Operations Center reviews student and school records for administrative compliance with federal regulations related to studying in the United States.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/29/2015