SEVPIt is a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program that monitors students and exchange visitors. (The F-1 program is administered by ICE)Only a SEVP certified school can enroll F-1 students. There are only certain schools that are eligible for SEVP certification, which are the following: 1) A college or university that awards a Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, PhD Degree, or Professional Degree; 2) A community college or junior college, which awards an associates degree; 3) A conservator; 4) An academic high school; 5) a private elementary school (K-8), and institution that provides language training, instruction in liberal arts, instruction in professions.SEVISAn Internet-based database that collects information about students and tracks students while in the U.S. (The system is administered by ICE);Students are required to pay a fee and file a Form I-901 to pay for the SEVIS system;The Designated School Official (DSO) is responsible for updating the SEVIS system with respect to when the student commences a full course of study, transfers schools, engages in employment, changes name, changes address, reduces course load, is reinstated, fails to report within 30 days of the registration deadline, etc.F-1 CRITERIANo immigrant intent (must have foreign residence with no intention in abandoning)Must be a bona fide student pursuing a full course of studyMust have sufficient academic credentials to attend the schoolMust obtain SEVIS I-20 issued by SEVP certified schoolMust have sufficient financial supportMust be proficient in English or receive training to become proficient.Must intend to depart the U.S. after completing the full course of studyF-2May not attend school unless file COS to F-1, except child may attend school through 12th grade. F-2 spouse may engage in recreational studies.Must obtain their own SEVIS I-20 issued by the SEVP-certified school.F-2s are not authorized to workF-3May attend school part-time or full-time, as long as not residing in U.S.Canadian and Mexican students are given a date certain with respect to period may remain in U.S., rather than D/S (Duration of Stay)Required to obtain I-20 and meet all other criteria just like F-1, but cannot obtain F-2 status for dependent family members.
AcceptedFollow the school’s application procedure.Once accepted, another application is submitted to the school’s International Student Office for Form I-20 issuance, along with copy of the acceptance letter, and proof of financial support.Form I-20Lists the program start date. Start date is important, because F-1 students may not apply for the F-1 visa more than 120 days prior to the start date and may not use the F-1 visa to enter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to the start date.SEVIS Form I-901 FeeThe student will then Complete on-line application at www.ice.gov/sevis/i901Pay Form I-901 Fee ($200 for F-1 students)SEVIS Customer Service Hotline at 703-603-3400DS 160Filed electronically with the U.S. Department of StatePhotograph is required to be uploaded. After DS 160 has been submitted, the foreign national will schedule a visa appointment through the U.S. Department of State’s web site. Visa InterviewBring Form I-20 issued by schoolBring passport valid for at least six monthsBring evidence of financial supportBring acceptance letterBring evidence of Payment of SEVIS Form I-901 feeBring proof of payment of $160.00 visa application fee.
Documents F-1 Student Needs to PresentValid passport; Form I-20; Acceptance Letter; SEVIS I-901 Receipt; Evidence of Financial Support; Form DS 160; Receipt of Visa Application FeeIf documentation is in order, CBP officer will admit the F-1 student into the U.S.CBP officer may deny the F-1 student admission if documentation is missing, or responses of student are poor to questioning.Form I-515ARather than denying the F-1 student admission due to a missing document, the CBP officer has discretion to issue the F-1 student a Form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the United States for 30 days.Receiving a Form I-515A, although not ideal, is better than having the F-1 student’s application for admission denied and having F-1 student placed back on a plane and sent home.Within the 30 day period, the student is required to submit the necessary documents to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) I-515A Processing Team. If F-1 student does not do this, SEVP (ICE) will terminate the F-1 student’sSEVIS record, and F-1 student will be required to depart the United States or file for reinstatement of status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within five months. (Example: F-1 student does not have proof of payment of I-901 SEVIS fee)Duration of Status (D/S)The F-1 student is admitted for what is called Duration of Status (D/S). Different than any other nonimmigrant category.D/S means the student may remain in the U.S. until the academic program the student has enrolled in, as described in the Form I-20, has been completed. The Form I-20 serves as a guide to when the academic program ends. As a result, no extension of stay is required to be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) each year academic year by the student. Report to DSO within 30 daysDSO is required to update F-1 student’s record in SEVIS whether F-1 student reported or not, so ICE may track.60 Day Grace PeriodAs previously indicated, F-1s are admitted for D/S, unlike H-1B nonimmigrants or L-1 nonimmigrants. The 60 day grace period can be used to prepare for departure, change educational levels, or transfer to another school.Note: If F-1 student withdraws from program with DSO recommendation, F-1 student has 15 day grace period. If F-1 student withdraws from program without reporting to DSO, 0 day grace period.
RequirementsAn F-1 may transfer, if the following requirements are met:F-1 student has to meet the academic program requirements and be accepted into the program;F-1 student has been pursuing a full course of study at the new school;F-1 student intends to pursue a full course of study at new school;F-1 student has the financial ability to attend the transferred school; F-1 student begins classes at the transferred school within five (5) months of transferring out of the school, or within five (5) months of the program completion date. Transfer ProcedureStudent notifies the current school of his or her wish to transfer schoolsStudent obtains SEVIS Form I-20 from new schoolStudent must report to the DSO within 15 days of the start date listed on the new SEVIS I-20, so DSO may update the SEVIS recordThe transfer is complete when the transfer school (DSO) notifies SEVIS that the student has enrolled in classes within 30 days of the start date on the Form I-20. From that point forward, the DSO of the new school is responsible for updating the SEVIS record for the student. Note: The failure to comply with the transfer procedure renders the F-1 student out of status.School TransferThey will generally have a form to do the transfer request and they’ll need a copy of the acceptance letter to the new school. Have to make sure that the student is admitted in a timely manner. Can’t be any more than 5 months between cessation at one school and starting the program at the next. The regulation says to start within 5 months or the next available session, whichever is sooner.They’ll take this information and go into SEVIS to do a transfer release. At some point, the new school after the release date will be able to generate an I-20.
Reduction of Course LoadThe F-1 student must obtain permission from the DSO for the reduction in course load. If do not obtain approval from the DSO, and the student reduces their course load, it is a status violation. If DSO approves the reduction in course load, the DSO will update the SEVIS record and issue a new Form I-20.The F-1 student may only reduce the their full time course load (i.e., 12 credit hours per semester) one time. (Reason behind permitting this is that students may have difficulty adjusting to education methods, language, etc.)Two (2) Exceptions: (1) If F-1 student is in last term of their program, and the number of credit hours needed to complete the program is less than 12 credit hours, then may pursue reduced course load; (2) If F-1 student has medical issues, then may reduce their course load. This may be done for only a maximum period of 12 months. The most that a student is permitted to reduce their course load is half of the full course load. (i.e., six credit hours per semester)
On-Campus EmploymentIt must be approved by the DSO and the Form I-20 must be endorsed by the DSO to reflect the employment authorization. (Note: F-1 Student is employed incident to status, so the F-1 student does not have to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (i.e., EAD card)F-1 student must continue to maintain a full course of study.F-1 student may not work for more than 20 hours per week. The employment on-campus must not displace U.S. workers.F-1 student may only engage in on-campus employment at the school having jurisdiction over the F-1 student’s SEVIS record.F-1 student may not engage in on-campus employment more than 30 days prior to the actual start date of classes.F-1 student may engage in full-time employment when school is not in session or during vacation. “On-campus” may also include work “at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school…the educational affiliation must be associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research project at the post-graduate level…[and] be an integral part of the students educational program.”8 CFR § 214.2(f)(9)(i)Off-Campus Employment Due to Severe Economic HardshipMust be approved by the DSO and the Form I-20 must be endorsed by the DSO to reflect the employment authorization. (Note: F-1 Student is employed incident to status, so the F-1 student does not have to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (i.e., EAD card)F-1 student must be in good academic standing, and carrying a full-course of study.F-1 student may only apply after completing one year of academic study.May only work a maximum period of 20 hours per week (May work full-time during holidays).Evidence of hardship must be present.Curricular Practical TrainingMust submit request for CPT to DSO, who will update SEVIS record and issue new Form I-20, endorsing CPT on the Form I-20.F-1 student must be a full-time student for one academic year.The work must be related to the course of study (degree).Must have a job offer.It may be granted on part-time basis (20 hours per week), or a full-time basis (40 hours per week)Time spent on CPT is deducted from Optional Practical Training (OPT) time.No EAD card is required.Pre-Completion Optional Practical TrainingDSO must make a recommendation for OPT and update SEVIS record, and issue new Form I-20 endorsing the OPT.Pre-Completion OPT: Limited to 20 hours per week; time student works on pre-completion OPT counts toward post-completion OPT; EAD card required; Cannot apply for it unless have been a student for one full-academic year.Post-Completion Optional Practical TrainingDSO must make a recommendation for OPT and update SEVIS record, and issue new Form I-20 endorsing the OPT.Post-Completion OPT occurs after student completes his or her course of study.Limited to 12 months, and must complete the training within 14 months.Must apply for an EAD card, and cannot begin employment until EAD card is issued. May request OPT no earlier than 90 days prior to completing the program, and no later than 60 days after the program ends. May be part-time or full-time employment.Job offer is not required.F-1 student only permitted to be unemployed for 90 day period during period on EAD card. If exceed 90 days of unemployment, then status violation. STEM Optional Practical Training.STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and MathematicsF-1 students who obtain a degree in one of the approved STEM fields (see ICE website), may apply for an additional 17 month period of OPT, if the employer they will be working for is enrolled in E-Verify, and agrees to report the students departure within 48 hours.F-1 student needs to apply for a new EAD card, and include evidence of the employer’s enrollment in the E-Verify programSTEM OPT is based on the most recent degree received by the foreign national.STEM degree must be the F-1 student’s major and not based on a minor.May file for the EAD card 120 days prior to the expiration of the 12 month OPT period.May work while the EAD application is pending for up to 180 days.Students may obtain a new 12 month OPT period based on a higher degree program, but may not obtain new OPT period if enroll in same-level degree program.May have up to 120 days of unemployment, before status violation occurs.
Procedure for Applying:File Form I-539 and pay $290.00 filing fee with properly completed Form I-20 from DSO, with DSOs recommendation for reinstatement.