Update on Immigration Regulations
What is SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)?
SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 or J-1 student's academic career in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also have access to SEVIS.
How does SEVIS work?
There are several steps:
- After Linfield admits an international student, SEVIS is notified and USCIS approves the College's request to issue an I-20 for F-1 or DS-2019 for J-1. The student is required to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee. For payment information, see www.ice.gov/sevis. The College transmits the new bar-coded I-20 form to the student.
- The student visits the U.S. consulate abroad and the consulate confirms through SEVIS that the student is carrying a valid I-20. If all is in order, the consulate issues the visa. The best information regarding consulate procedures is on each consulate’s web site. Application forms can be filled out, submitted electronically, printed and taken to the interview in many cases.
- A USCIS officer at the airport reports the student's entry into the U.S. to SEVIS. The US Visit automated biometric program at the port of entry is required to verify identity –two index fingers will be scanned and a digital picture will be taken.
- When the student arrives on campus, he/she reports to the International Programs Office (IPO) and the school confirms through SEVIS that the student has enrolled. Linfield continues to provide regular electronic reports to USCIS throughout the student's academic career.
- Finally, SEVIS records the student's departure from the U.S.
- For J-1 students, the process is similar, but the reports go to the Department of State.
Travel Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors
- Hand carry (do not put in your checked luggage) the following documents:
- Your passport
- Your SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of student or exchange visitor status, such as letter of acceptance
- Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee
- The name and contact information of your designated school official (DSO) or sponsor
- Inform the CBP Officer at the port of entry as soon as possible that you will be a new student or exchange visitor in the United States.
What data does SEVIS collect?
Linfield must report:
- Whether the student has enrolled or failed to enroll at the school.
- A change of the student or dependent's legal name or address.
- Any student who graduates prior to the end date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019.
- Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction.
- Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior authorization from the designated school official (DSO - immigration's term for the international student advisers).
- Linfield College's DSO's are: Dr. Shaik Ismail, Sandy Soohoo-Refaei, Michele Tomseth, Marie Schmidt and Matthew Hodges.
- Termination date and reason for termination.
- Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extensions, school transfers, changes in level of study, employment authorizations and reinstatement.
- Any student who fails to maintain status or complete his or her program.
Maintenance of Status
A student with a F-1 or J-1 status has the following responsibilities to maintain their immigration status:
- Report to the DSO for SEVIS registration.
- Attend authorized school.
- Pursue a full course of study. "Full course of study" means 12 credits per semester for undergraduates. Only a DSO has the authority to approve a reduced credit load (must be approved prior to someone dropping below the min. 12 credits). Acceptable reasons include:
- Students who experience academic difficulties (for example, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods).
- Students in their final semester of study need only the credits required to complete the degree.
- Students who have a medical problem can reduce their credit load or take the semester off.
- Make normal academic progress.
- Have the DSO process extensions/changes in academic/level of study/complete transfer process.
- Abide by the F-1 and J-1 grade period rules.
- Report change of address to the DSO within 10 days of the change. Comply with special registration requirements, if applicable.
- Maintain a valid passport/valid I-20 DS-2019.
- Refrain from unlawful employment. Before an F-1 student can legally do an off-campus internship, whether paid or unpaid, prior approval for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be obtained by the International Programs Office. The form and instructions can be downloaded from the IPO website.
- Depart the U.S. in a timely manner.
What are the consequences if a student fails to maintain status?
The student's record will be updated with SEVIS every term. Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student visa and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status, denial of requests for Practical Training, denial of requests to change visa status and possible denial of all future visa applications.
Can a student who is "out of status" regain legal status?
If a student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the DSO, that "event" would be reported to USCIS via SEVIS, and he or she would be out of status. The student may apply to ICE for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if he or she is out of status longer than five months. If ICE does not reinstate the student, he or she may not appeal that decision.
What happens if Linfield fails to comply with the SEVIS regulations?
USCIS is required to audit the College's compliance with these new requirements every two years. Failure to comply with the federal regulations could result in the loss of the College's ability to accept international students.
***These requirements and rules are subject to revisions by the Department of Homeland Security. For an update on current regulations that may apply to you at the time of application, please contact the International Programs Office.