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What is a Designated School Official?

One requirement for a school to be Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified is that the school must have dedicated employees for assisting and overseeing enrolled F and M students:

  • Designated school officials (DSO)
  • Principal designated school official (PDSO); a DSO with added responsibilities

The school’s president, owner or head of a school or school system must nominate these officials by signing Form I-17A, “Record of Designated School Officials.” Each instructional site location must have at least one PDSO who also serves as the main point of contact related to the school’s compliance for SEVP. Each location can have up to 10 DSOs, including the PDSO. DSOs must have an office at the school and be accessible to the F and/or M students at their school.

A DSO must be either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States. To prove this status to SEVP, school officials can provide one of the following with Form I-17A:

  • Copy of U.S. passport (current or expired)
  • Copy of a U.S. civil-issued birth certificate
  • Copy of an alien registration card
  • Copy of a naturalization or citizenship certificate

Federal law requires DSOs to update and maintain student records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. For more information on specific reporting requirements, please read the SEVIS Reporting Requirements for Designated School Officials fact sheet.

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