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Find out about designated school officials.

Students: What Is a DSO?

April 14, 2014

If you have been accepted to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, you are probably hearing plenty of new terms related to studying in the United States. If you are not sure what a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” or the I-901 SEVIS fee are, do not worry, you will learn. All of these terms are key, but it is especially important to take note of designated school officials (DSOs), your biggest resource as an F or M student. DSOs can answer your questions and guide you through the process of studying in the United States.

All SEVP‑certified schools are required to have DSOs to communicate with SEVP, update your student record, and help you maintain your student status by providing advice, or helping your fill out important forms. While benefits like employment or driving are available to you in the United States, you need authorization from your DSO before enjoying them. Speak to your DSO before doing any of the following:

  • Working in the United States
  • Applying for a driver’s license
  • Applying for a Social Security number
  • Changing your major, program, or degree level
  • Changing your education level
  • Transferring to a new school
  • Being absent from classes
  • Taking a vacation
  • Traveling outside the United States
  • Moving to a new address
  • Changing your name
  • Requesting a program extension

If you have questions about studying in the United States, talk to your DSO. You can also read more about the process on the Study in the States blog.

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