Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools have dedicated employees that assist and oversee enrolled F and M students, known as designated school officials (DSOs). Your DSO is available to answer questions and provide guidance to you while you are studying in the United States.
You may enter the United States up to 30 days before your program start date listed on your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” After entering the country, it is a good idea to contact your DSO immediately. When you arrive at school, you must contact your DSO and be enrolled no later than the program start date. If you cannot enter the United States for the academic term listed on your Form I-20, or will be absent a few days, contact your DSO immediately. Your DSO will update your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record and provide you a revised Form I-20. The Form I-20 you present at the port of entry must have the correct program start date.
After you begin your program, you will still need to stay in contact with your DSO. Remember to report the following changes to your DSO:
- Change in major, program or degree level;
- Change in education level;
- Transfer to a new school;
- Taking a break or temporary absence from school;
- Travel outside the United States;
- Move to a new address;
- Request a program extension;
- Bring dependents into the country; or
- Request for employment.
You must report changes in your address or legal name within 10 days of the change. Other changes must be entered by the DSO in SEVIS within 21 days of the change; it may take a couple weeks for the DSO to have time to enter your changes into your record. It is important to report these changes as early as possible in order to maintain your F or M student status. When in doubt, communicate any changes or updates to your DSO.