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DSOs: Send USCIS a Letter of Explanation If You Cannot Issue Updated Forms I-20

September 15, 2015

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) needs to authorize certain employment opportunities that F-1 and M-1 students participate in, like off-campus employment and optional practical training.

As a designated school official (DSO), you need to assist students in filing the Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with USCIS.

Usually, in order to receive employment authorization, a complete employment authorization application package must be submitted to USCIS. This requires DSOs to issue an updated Form I-20, “Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” to their students who apply for work authorization.

Sometimes, when there is a pending data correction to a student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information (SEVIS) record, an updated Form I-20 cannot be included with an employment authorization application.

If you are unable to issue an updated, signed Form I-20 to your student due to pending data corrections to the student’s SEVIS record, you should provide the student with a letter of explanation. The student should include this letter in the work authorization application package sent to USCIS.

Specifically, this letter of explanation must be on your school’s letterhead and include all reasons for requesting a data correction to the student’s SEVIS record and the request or data fix ticket number. Providing this letter of explanation to USCIS may prevent the student’s application from simply being denied because the signed Form I-20 is missing.

USCIS will work with students whose Form I-20 submission is delayed due to pending data correction requests. Once the student’s application has been submitted to USCIS, DSOs should work with the SEVP Response Center to escalate the student’s data correction requests. An updated Form I-20 must be submitted to USCIS within 30 days of making the recommendation for employment authorization in SEVIS.

DSOs,  please direct your students to the Working in the United States  and our Training page for more infromation about opportunities that may be available to them. 

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