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SEVIS Schools

Only schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) can enroll F or M nonimmigrant students. A school applies for SEVP-certification to enroll F and/or M students by completing the Form I-17, "Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student," online using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pays all required fees online at Pay.gov.


Regulations

Helpful Documents

Resources

Technical Guidance & Information

Note: SEVIS Release 6.29 deployed on Sept. 30, 2016. Enhancements included in this release may impact the accuracy of some SEVIS user manuals. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to SEVIS Release 6.29 Planning Guide on the SEVIS Help Hub.

School Reporting Requirements

How to File an Appeal or Motion

Policy

Guidance

Guidance is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) interpretation of federal laws and regulations that guide SEVP adjudicators in their decision-making. Guidance is not the same as governing regulations. Governing regulations are developed and instituted by each cabinet-level agency in the Federal Government.

Final Guidance

Final guidance is official SEVP policy that establishes standards or requirements and is used in SEVP adjudications. Final guidance is not open for public comment. It is intended to clarify laws or regulations related to SEVP adjudications and does not replace or supersede those laws or regulations.

SEVP has issued final guidance on the following issues:

TitleDescription

Flight Training Providers

This policy addresses requirements for flight schools to receive SEVP certification. Specifically, SEVP requires that flight schools have Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 141 or Part 142 certification.

Read the final guidance.

Accreditation of English Training Programs Act (Accreditation Act)

This guidance provides SEVP policy, process and timeline for enforcing the Accreditation Act.

The Accreditation Act requires all English language training programs of study (commonly referred to as ESL programs) to have applied for accreditation before Dec. 15, 2011. This accreditation must be granted by a regional or national accrediting agency that the Department of Education currently recognizes.

Read the final guidance.

Reporting Instructional Sites

This policy addresses the types of instructional sites school officials need to report on the Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.”

Read the final guidance.

Conditional Admission

This guidance interprets the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status,” issuance regulation for prospective F-1 and M-1 students (8 CFR 214.3(k)) to guide SEVP adjudicators.

Read the final guidance.

The Form I-20 and the English Proficiency Field

SEVP regulations and the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” require a designated school official (DSO) to provide information on a school’s English proficiency requirements and whether a prospective F-1 or M-1 student has met those requirements. Consistent use of the English proficiency field by DSOs is important because it directly relates to who is eligible for F-1 or M-1 student status.

Read the final guidance.

Pathway Programs for Reasons of English Proficiency

This guidance provides information for SEVP adjudicators regarding pathway programs for F-1 postsecondary students who fail to meet the English proficiency requirements for admission into a certified degree program of study, or need to improve English competencies for that program.

Read the final guidance.

Interim Final Guidance

SEVP develops interim final guidance that clarifies or revises SEVP policy. Unlike draft guidance, interim final guidance is official SEVP policy that establishes standards or requirements and is used by SEVP adjudicators when it is posted. SEVP will typically issue interim final guidance on issues that require immediate clarification, revision or are uncontroversial to seek public comment to help inform the final guidance.

The table below identifies SEVP interim final guidance documents that are not currently open for public comment. Please refer to the SEVP Guidance for Comment page on Study in the States to review any the interim final guidance documents that are currently available for public comment.

TitleDescriptionComments

Academic Year

SEVP is currently reviewing all comments received. Because the guidance is in Interim Final status, it is considered effective and schools are expected to be in compliance during this review period. Once all feedback has been reviewed, the guidance will be available in final form on the SEVP website.

Read the interim final guidance.

60 comments received.

This guidance is in review by SEVP.

Form I-20 - Student and Dependent Personal Information Fields in SEVIS

Interprets aspects of the regulations and process for designated school official (DSO) issuance of Forms I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” to F and M nonimmigrants (8 CFR 214.3(k)).

Read the interim final guidance.

 

Note: If you have any SEVP policy questions that are not related to guidance documents, please contact the SEVP Response Center at (703) 603-3400 or SEVP@ice.dhs.gov.

Useful Links

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

  • USCIS Forms and Fees — Copies of forms and instructions to use when filing with USCIS for a benefit. This includes links to electronic filing.
  • USCIS — General information on U.S. immigration policies.

Department of State

Social Security

Social Security Administration (SSA) — Information on how and when you can obtain a Social Security Number.

Federal Income Tax Information

Tax Information for Foreign Students and Scholars — Foreigners temporarily present in the United States as students, scholars, teachers, researchers, exchange visitors, and cultural exchange visitors are subject to special rules with respect to the taxation of their income. This web page contains extensive information on the rules and requirements for those individuals.

Department of Education

Postsecondary Educational Institutions and Programs Accredited by Accrediting Agencies and State Approval Agencies Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education — The database lists approximately 6,900 postsecondary educational institutions and programs, each of which is accredited by an accrediting agency or state approval agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a "reliable authority as to the quality of postsecondary education" within the meaning of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The database does not include a number of postsecondary educational institutions and programs that elect not to seek accreditation but nevertheless may provide a quality postsecondary education. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that the database be used as one source of qualitative information and that additional sources of qualitative information be consulted.

Immigration Laws and Regulations

  • Federal Register Home Page — Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.
  • Electronic Version of 8 CFR 214 — Links to all CFR(8 CFR 214 is the section of the immigration regulations dealing with nonimmigrant status.)
 

 

As of Oct. 1, 2016, all schools seeking initial certification with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) must submit the evidence supporting their Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled. Failure to submit all of the required evidence for filing may also result in the cancelation of the petition.

The evidence needed for filing is broken down below by school type and accreditation status. It is the responsibility of the school to determine which document applies to their school. Any questions can be directed to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov.

For more information about navigating the Form I-17 in SEVIS, please refer to the SEVIS Help Hub.

Public High School

The document below contains the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for public high schools (i.e., grade nine through grade 12). Public high schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

Accredited, Private Kindergarten through Grade 12

The document below contains the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for private, accredited kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) schools. Private K-12 schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

Non-Accredited, Private Kindergarten through Grade 12

The document below contains the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for private, non-accredited K-12 schools. Private K-12 schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

Accredited, F and/or M Post-Secondary

The document below contains the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for accredited post-secondary schools. Schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

Non-Accredited, F and/or M Post-Secondary

The documents below contain the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for non-accredited post-secondary schools. Schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

Flight School

The documents below contain the definitions of evidence required for filing a Form I-17 petition for flight schools. Flight schools must submit the evidence supporting their petition to initial.sevis@ice.dhs.gov within two business days of submitting their petition in SEVIS. Petitions belonging to schools that fail to submit evidence to the email address above will be canceled.

For more information SEVP Certification Frequently Asked Questions page.

Do not submit any documentation unless your school has received a 180-day notice via the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools must go through the recertification process every two years to ensure they remain eligible for certification and have complied with all record keeping, retention and reporting requirements, and all other requirements, in accordance with the regulations.

One hundred and eighty days before a school’s Certification Expiration Date (CED), designated school officials (DSOs) will receive notice from SEVP through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that the school is eligible to apply for recertification.

Quick Recertification Filing Tips

  • The Form I-17 must be signed in its entirety. This includes signatures by the principal designated school official (PDSO), all DSOs, the owner, and head of school or chancellors.
  • Successfully filing for recertification consists of submitting for recertification via SEVIS and submitting a complete recertification package via email.
  • Upon receipt of your complete recertification package and submission in SEVIS, you will receive a Notice of Confirmation of Complete Filing from the Recertification Team.
  • If you have not received a Notice of Confirmation of Complete Filing by your school’s Certification Expiration Date your school will be automatically withdrawn.
  • The Recertification Team strongly recommends that you file your package for recertification as soon as possible and no later than 30 days prior to the Certification Expiration Date.
  • Your school’s SEVP certification expires at 12:01 a.m. on the Certification Expiration Date listed in SEVIS.
  • If a package is received on the day prior to the Certification Expiration Date, your school may be temporarily withdrawn from SEVIS.
  • Please submit your recertification package via e-mail only. SEVP no longer accepts submissions via fax or U.S. mail.
  • Recertification forms are located at the bottom of this page.

Recertification Instructions

Once you have been notified via SEVIS that your school is within the 180 days of the Certification Expiration Date, your school must submit a completed recertification package prior to the Certification Expiration Date.

Please review the Recertification Checklist to assist you in completing the recertification process. Do not submit the checklist with your recertification package. This is strictly for your use to ensure all required documentation and procedures are included and completed.

In order to file for recertification, you must electronically submit the following on the same business day:

Form I-17

Print a copy of the Form I-17 from SEVIS and sign the petition, including any continuation pages. Obtain signatures from president, owner, or head of school and all designated school officials listed on the Form I-17. If the information contained within the Form I-17 accurately reflects your school and its operations, and you are not required to submit additional evidence, submit all documentation via email to: recert.sevis@ice.dhs.gov. In the subject line type in "Recertification Package_School Name_School Code".

Additional Evidence (For Non-Accredited Schools)

If your school is not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency or an SEVP-identified accrediting agency, additional evidence must be submitted based on your school type. Refer to the Additional Evidence Guide below to determine what evidence is needed. Submit this evidence together with the signed Form I-17. If your school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized or SEVP-identified accrediting agency, you do not need to submit additional evidence.

SEVIS Submission

You must also submit for recertification via SEVIS by clicking on the link to Apply for Recertification. Only the PDSO at the main instructional site can file for recertification. The PDSO must submit for recertification via SEVIS at the same time as he/she submits the recertification package.

 

After Submitting the Petition for Recertification

If you correctly submit a complete recertification package, you will receive a Notice of Confirmation of Complete Filing. This notice serves to inform you that SEVP received your petition for recertification and that the petition has entered the queue for review and adjudication.

If your submission is incorrect, you will receive a Notice of Rejection of Complete Filing. This notice will state the errors in your package and request that you make the corrections and resubmit your recertification package. SEVP recommends that you correct any errors and submit a new package as soon as possible.

Remember: You only have a total of 180 days to resubmit a complete package. No extensions will be granted.

Once your recertification package is in adjudication, you may receive a Request for Evidence. You will have 15 days to respond to the request. Failure to respond to a Request for Evidence may result in the denial of your school’s recertification petition. If no additional evidence is needed and your school continues to operate in accordance with the federal regulations governing SEVP, you will receive a Notice of Recertification.

 

Incomplete Package or Failure to File

Federal regulation 8 CFR §214.3 (h)(2)(ii) Consequence of failure to petition. SEVP will serve a Notice of Intent to Withdraw (NOIW) to the school 30 days prior to a school's certification expiration date. SEVP will no longer accept a petition for recertification from the school and will immediately withdraw the school's certification if the school does not petition for recertification, abandons its petition, or does not submit a complete recertification petition package by the certification expiration date, in accordance with the automatic withdrawal criteria in 8 CFR 214.4(a)(3). The school must comply with 8 CFR 214.4(i) upon withdrawal.

Voluntary Withdrawals

If your school has been notified for Recertification or has filed for Recertification and wants to voluntarily withdraw certification, please submit a letter on the school’s letterhead signed by the school President or Owner and Primary Designated School Official (PDSO). Submit this form-request to recert.SEVIS@ice.dhs.gov.

Updating the Form I-17 and Recertification

  • Petition update adjudications have no effect on an institution’s Recertification Certification Expiration Date (CED). Institutions that have received the 180-day Recertification Notice are advised to file for recertification upon receipt an adjudication decision for the petition update, schools are reminded that they must apply for recertification by their CED or risk withdrawal. If the Form I-17 is submitted for recertification prior to the update adjudication, the pending updates will be automatically canceled.
  • For further information, please review the recertification website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/getting-started-with-sevp-recertification
  • For questions regarding petition updates and recertification, please contact the SEVIS Response Center (SRC) Monday - Friday at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov or at 703-603-3400 and 1(800)-892-4829

 

Recertification Forms

Regulations require Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified institutions report any material changes to the Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.” SEVP-certified institutions are required to keep all Form I-17 sections up to date in order to ensure the Form I-17 reflects the institution’s current operating status.

Principal designated school officials (PDSOs) at an institution with a Form I-17 that does not match the institution’s current operating status must update the petition in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 21 days of the change(s).

Note: Once the petition update is submitted in SEVIS, the petition is then locked for edits while pending adjudication.

SEVP recommends that designated school officials (DSOs) review the institution’s Form I-17 on a regular basis to ensure it reflects the school’s most up-to-date information.

8 CFR 214.3(g) and (h) requires that updates are made within 21 days of any changes.

The entire Form I-17 must be kept up to date; however, the following sections when updated must be adjudicated:

  • 1.1 Approval of Attendance of Students Under
  • 1.2 Name of School or School System
  • 1.3 Name of Main campus
  • 1.4 Mailing address of school
  • 1.7 Location of school
  • 1.8 School type (with name and address of owner 1.8 & 1.9)
  • 2.1 School is engaged in
  • 2.2 Areas of study
  • 2.3 Degrees available
  • 2.4 Courses of study and time necessary to complete
  • 3.2 & 3.3 & 3.4 Accreditation and recognitions
  • 3.6 FAA Certification
  • Average annual numbers
  • School official additions
  • Instructional site addition
  • PDSO or DSO information

While SEVP does not adjudicate the following sections, schools are still required to keep these sections of the Form I-17 up to date:

  • Section 3.1 – Date school was established
  • Section 4.1– School Sessions
  • Section 4.2 – Date Registration begins for EACH session during a calendar year
  • Section 4.3 – Type of Sessions (Day/Night)
  • Section – Approximate Annual Cost of Room, Board, Tuition, etc., per student
  • Section 4.9 – Requirements for Admission

How to Submit an Update

In order to update the information on the Form I-17, the PDSO must log into SEVIS, make the appropriate edits and click Submit.

The PDSO may choose the right side navigation box to go to the submit page at any time. You may also choose to Save Draft by utilizing the button on the bottom of each screen. However if you use the Cancel button all changes will be wiped and your draft will be erased. “Draft status” means that the institution can see the updates made, but the update has not been submitted to SEVP for review.

School officials also must submit the evidence required for adjudication at the same time they submit their updates in SEVIS. The evidence a school needs to provide to SEVP depends what is being updated, and whether or not the school is accredited. If a school fails to submit evidence at the same time it submits the update in SEVIS, SEVP will cancel the request and ask that the school resubmit the request with the required evidence.

SEVP may ask your school to provide additional evidence for adjudication through a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice that will be sent via a SEVIS-generated email. A specific due date will be included in all RFEs. Institutions should note this date and ensure all evidence is emailed by the date on which it is due.

Notification of adjudication will also be sent via a SEVIS-generated email. Therefore, DSO email addresses in SEVIS must be current in order to receive proper notifications and requests for evidence.

Notes:

  • Processing times for updates vary depending on the type of submitted update.
  • Please submit all supporting documents to update.sevis@ice.dhs.gov at the time the school submits its petition update in SEVIS. For more information about the required evidence a school needs to submit with an update, see the appropriate evidence tabs below (i.e., Accredited school or program of study filing evidence or Non-Accredited school or program of study filing evidence).
  • For PDSO or DSO updates, please submit supporting evidence to FormI17SupportingEvidence@ice.dhs.gov.
  • The subject lines of all emails containing evidence must include, “(NAME of SCHOOL), (SCHOOL CODE)”
  • If the institution believes that there is an error in the submission, the institution has the option of canceling the pending update and resubmitting. If the institution would like to cancel a pending update, please email update.sevis@ice.dhs.gov. Upon receipt, the Updates Team will review the request.
  • Upon completion of the cancelation request, the institution will receive an automated email from SEVIS, after which time the institution will be able to make any needed updates to the Form I-17 without prejudice.

If there are questions regarding login or use of SEVIS, please contact the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400.

Fees Associated with Updating the Form I-17

There is a $655 site visit fee for edits made to the main location address that are determined to be a true change in physical location. Once SEVP receives payment, the school will be contacted to schedule a site visit at the new location.

There is a filing fee of $1,700 for edits made to the owner name that are determined to be a true changes in ownership (control). If ownership of the school changes, an institution’s SEVP certification may be automatically withdrawn if the PDSO does not update that information in SEVIS within 60 days of the change.

Required fee payments are paid through www.pay.gov. For detailed instructions on how to pay these fees, please see the “Physical Location of the School” and “Private School Owner” sections in the documents found under the appropriate evidence tabs below (i.e., Accredited school/program of study filing evidence or Non-Accredited school/program of study filing evidence).

Accredited School/Program of Study Filing Evidence

The below document contains evidence required for adjudication for each Form I-17 section being updated. Evidence is listed based on the type of school submitting the update. For example, if a school or program of study is accredited and an update to the program information is needed (i.e., SEVIS sections 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4), please refer to pages 2-6 in the below PDF for a list of required evidence.

Note: The evidence listed is not all inclusive and additional evidence may be required upon review of a school’s Form I- 17 petition update.

Non-Accredited School/Program of Study Filing Evidence

The below document contains evidence required for adjudication for each Form I-17 section being updated. Evidence is listed based on the type of school submitting the update. For example, if a school or program of study is non-accredited and an update to the program information is needed (i.e., SEVIS sections 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4), please refer to pages 3-10 in the below PDF for a list of required evidence.

Note: The evidence listed is not all inclusive and additional evidence may be required upon review of a school’s Form I- 17 petition update.

Updating School Officials

SEVP’s process for submitting new PDSOs and DSOs and changing PDSO or DSO information requires a complete submission. This includes submitting the PDSO or DSO update request and supporting evidence all at once.

If documentation is missing at the time of submission, the PDSO or DSO submission will be considered incomplete and may be subject to cancelation. For more information about this process, including required evidence your school must submit, please refer to SEVP Fact Sheet 8.1: Designated School Official Submissions.

To make PDSO or DSO updates to your school’s locked Form I-17, a school must submit the update requests, as detailed in the SEVP Fact Sheet 8.1: Designated School Official Submissions, to SEVP by sending an email to FormI17SupportingEvidence@ice.dhs.gov.

How to Voluntarily Withdraw

If your school has any active nonimmigrant students, they must first transfer to another SEVP-certified school or depart the United States before your Voluntary Withdrawal is processed.

If your school would like to have its SEVP certification voluntarily withdrawn, you must submit a letter on the school’s letterhead signed by the school’s president or owner. The request must be emailed to update.SEVIS@ice.dhs.gov.

If your school has filed for Recertification and has chosen to voluntarily withdraw certification, please complete the Voluntary Withdrawal Form. The school’s president or owner must sign the form and email the form to recert.SEVIS@ice.dhs.gov.

Web-based Training Course for Designated School Officials

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offers a web-based training course titled "SEVIS Training for School Officials." This training provides instruction on the responsibilities and obligations for both school officials and nonimmigrant students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The course provides guidance on completing the various actions required to update and maintain student information in SEVIS for new and veteran designated school officials. Enjoy the course!

SEVP Training for Designated School Officials (PDF | 681 KB)

Field representatives are part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and serve as direct day-to-day liaisons between SEVP and SEVP-certified schools.

The SEVP Field Representative Unit enhances national security by fostering an understanding of regulatory adherence and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) data integrity.

Additionally, SEVP field representatives:

  • Ensure SEVP-certified schools understand SEVP rules and regulations.
  • Answer general questions related to the nonimmigrant student process.
  • Provide training and assistance to principal designated school officials and designated school officials.
  • Meet with schools in their territories normally a minimum of once per year.
  • Help school officials with the SEVP recertification process by conducting scheduled school visits.
  • Attend conferences and meetings in their territories that pertain to nonimmigrant students.

As a reminder, SEVP-certified schools are subject to on-site review at any time, per 8 CFR 214.3 (h)(3)(iv). Please note that these reviews are not related to the SEVP field representatives and are not part of their duties.

SEVP has now deployed four groups of field representatives for a total of 54. SEVP plans to deploy a total of 60 field representatives nationwide. There are three regional groups — eastern, central and western — comprised of 20 field representatives in each region. Each field representative will spend four days each week in the field with schools and one day in their “home office.” SEVP will continue to provide updates about the field representatives on a regular basis.

Please note that there are six field representative territory vacancies — Arlington, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; San Antonio, Texas and San Jose, California. If your school falls within any of these six territories, please contact the SEVP Response Center for assistance with questions and concerns by calling (703) 603-3400 or emailing SEVP@ice.dhs.gov.

Information regarding hiring and deployment of these vacancies will be communicated via a SEVIS Broadcast Message.

To learn more about this program, please read these FAQs about the field representatives.

  • Please provide an email address and/or phone number to students and SEVP – Provide an email address and toll-free phone number, if possible, for displaced students and exchange visitors to report their location and health status and to receive instructions from you. Also, please have an email address that SEVP can use to contact you if issues arise about F, M or J nonimmigrants during or after an evacuation.
  • If you are unable to provide this information to students or exchange visitors – Advise F, M and J nonimmigrants to check SEVP's website and Study in the States for information and guidance and email us at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov, or call us at (703) 603-3400 to report their location and contact information.
  • Fact Sheet: Continuity of Operations Planning for SEVP-Approved Schools