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Know the Difference between a PDSO and a DSO

March 3, 2015
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requires every school it certifies to have a principal designated school official (PDSO). Each program or institution may also have additional designated school officials (DSO) that provide support to F and M students. So, what is the difference between a PDSO and a DSO?
An easy way to think about it is that a PDSO is a DSO with added responsibilities. Both PDSOs and DSOs play an important role. DSOs are resources dedicated to assisting F and M students and keeping their records updated in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). While a PDSO may fulfill this role, they must also perform additional administrative tasks that DSOs do not.
The main responsibilities that make a PDSO different from a DSO are:
A PDSO is the main point of contact for SEVP.
A PDSO must file for recertification.
Depending on the needs of the specific SEVP-certified program, a PDSO may want additional help supporting the F and M students enrolled in their school. It is also important for a school to have at least one back-up person in case the PDSO is unable to perform tasks or access SEVIS. 
Are you a PDSO or DSO with questions about your SEVP-related responsibilities? Please contact the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST, except holidays. Or ask us via Twitter or Facebook
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