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New Rules Permit More Designated School Officials and Offer Study for Dependents

April 29, 2015
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools will have greater flexibility in determining how many designated school officials (DSOs) to nominate. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations under SEVP to improve management of international student programs and increase opportunities for study by spouses and children of international students.
Previously, SEVP-certified schools could only nominate a maximum of 10 DSOs. The new regulation removes the cap and permits SEVP-certified schools to nominate an appropriate number of DSOs based on their school’s specific needs. These amended regulations will permit schools to better meet students' needs while ensuring compliance with DHS reporting and other school certification requirements.
This rule does not alter SEVP's authority to approve or reject a DSO or principal designated school official nomination. The nominee will not have Student and Exchange Visitor Information System access while the DSO nomination is pending.
Additionally, the new rule permits dependents (F-2 and M-2) of international students to engage in study at SEVP-certified schools in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study.
F-2 and M-2 dependents can still participate up to full-time in avocational or recreational studies, such as hobbies. If an F-2 or M-2 wants to enroll in a full course of academic study, however, they must apply for and obtain approval to change their nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1 or M-1. 
Currently, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) only allows SEVP-certified schools to input up to 10 DSOs. In the next SEVIS release, scheduled for late June, SEVP will include the ability for schools to designate a suitable number of school officials based on their requirements. SEVP will be broadcasting updates regarding the SEVIS release in the coming weeks via the SEVIS message board, Study in the States and social media platforms.
This new rule stems from recommendations provided by the DHS Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. The amended regulations go into effect 30 days after it is posted to the Federal Register on April 29, 2015. Additional information about the amended regulations may be found on the Federal Register website.
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