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SEVP Announces Plan to Reduce Processing Time for Form I-17 Updates

December 16, 2015

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released a message to the academic community that outlined its way forward for reducing the processing time on Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” principal designated school official (PDSO) and designated school official (DSO) updates. 

The Plan:

As a top priority, SEVP intends to focus first on eliminating the current PDSO and DSO update backlog. SEVP will accomplish this by setting an internal deadline of March 25, 2016 to eliminate the backlog for all types of PDSO and DSO update requests, including those submitted on their own, those submitted in conjunction with other updates in SEVIS, as well as PDSO and DSO update requests sent via email from schools that cannot edit the Form I‑17 petition in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Roughly 130 backlogged requests remain from schools looking to update or change a PDSO and DSO. SEVP is confident decisions will be rendered for all before March 25, 2016. SEVP is using its Field Representative Unit members to augment the School Certification Unit (SCU) staff to ensure that the backlog is eliminated in a timely manner and to minimize the impact to other adjudications.

Once SEVP eliminates the backlog, it pledges to provide schools with an adjudication decision within 10 business days of receipt for any new PDSO and DSO updates if the requests include complete and accurate supporting evidence documentation. In order to meet the 10 business day adjudication goal, SEVP adjudicators will be more timely and firm about the issuance of cancellation or denial decisions for incorrect petition submissions or unresponsiveness from PDSOs and DSOs.

What School Officials Need to Know:

Moving forward, three key factors will help ensure the continued timely processing of updates:

1) Completeness of petition submissions, as well as supporting evidence documentation. PDSOs and DSOs are strongly encouraged to gather and prepare all of the signatures and supporting evidence prior to submitting their request via SEVIS (for unlocked petitions) or via email (for locked petitions). All PDSOs and DSOs must submit requests and supporting evidence at one time.

2) Timely responsiveness by PDSOs and DSOs to SEVP adjudicator requests for evidence.

3) PDSO and DSO updates are submitted alone in SEVIS with no other updates on the petition. By not combining this update with others, it will allow SEVP adjudicators to expeditiously process these crucial updates more easily. In fall 2016, SEVP plans to issue a SEVIS release that will allow PDSOs to submit school official updates completely separate, but simultaneously, to other Form I-17 updates in SEVIS. Until that time, SEVP strongly recommends that update requests remain separate and that you submit school official updates first.

To help PDSOs and DSOs correctly file a Form I-17 update and provide required documentation, SEVP improved or developed five pieces of instructional material:

  1. SEVP Fact Sheet: Designated School Official Submissions
  2. SEVIS Job Aid: Update School Officials
  3. SEVIS Job Aid: Update School Officials Process Flow Sketches
  4. Dec. 11, 2015 - DSO Updates Webinar
  5. SEVIS User Guide – An updated user guide will be published on within the next two weeks.

SEVP will continue to investigate ways to improve the process for all Form I-17 updates. The program will continue to inform stakeholders of progress made on reducing backlogs and enhancing the updates process through webinars, conferences and Study in the States.

In February 2016, SEVP will host an Ask the Experts webinar with SCU adjudicators to provide an overview of the improved PDSO and DSO updates process and report on where the program stands with reducing the backlog. This webinar will allow stakeholders the opportunity to directly ask questions about the process to SEVP adjudicators. Stay tuned to Study in the States and social media for additional information about this webinar and how stakeholders can submit their questions on the PDSO and DSO updates process to SEVP.

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