SEVP Field Representatives Look Back at 2015
Stephanie Garrard is a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) field representative. In this role, she serves as a liaison between SEVP and the certified schools in her territory of northern Washington and Alaska. To help school officials begin the new year, she recaps major SEVP milestones from 2015. These accomplishments include Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) enhancements, new SEVP policy guidance, important regulatory changes and new tools on Study in the States.
As we look to an exciting year ahead, it is helpful to remember the major milestones SEVP experienced in 2015 as they may impact your responsibilities as a designated school official (DSO).
- The inaugural SEVIS annual DSO verification period closed with 96 percent of all SEVP-certified schools and 99 percent of all SEVP-certified programs verified. The 2016 SEVIS annual DSO verification period is now open. If you are a principal designated school official and have not already completed your SEVIS verification, please do so before March 2, 2016.
- SEVP deployed the largest SEVIS release to date. SEVIS Release 6.21 included major system enhancements such as name standardizations; a re-designed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status;” mass reprint request functionality and a SEVIS Downloads page. Please note, by July 1, 2016, F and M students and their dependents are required to have the redesigned Form I-20.
- SEVP deployed SEVIS Release 6.23, which included updates that allow DSOs to enter SEVIS information about multiple employers for a student participating in optional practical training (OPT) and improved how details are presented on the events history page of a student’s SEVIS record.
SEVP Policy Guidance:
- SEVP changed its time frame for the acceptance of a DSO’s “Request for Correction to Student Status.” DSOs can now submit a request to change an F-1 student’s SEVIS record to Active up to 60 days in advance of the student’s return from a temporary absence.
- SEVP invited the public to comment on employment-related draft policy guidance and received over 200 comments. This year, in addition to finalizing the 2015 employment-related guidance, stakeholders can also expect SEVP to release new and additional guidance on curricular practical training, OPT and pathway programs.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Regulatory Changes:
- DHS amended regulations that directly impact SEVP program participants. The new rule increased study opportunities for F-2 and M-2 dependents and offered greater flexibility to SEVP-certified schools to determine how many DSOs to nominate.
- In October 2015, DHS issued a proposed rule that would extend the time during which some international students may engage in practical training while in the United States.
Study in the States Updates:
- Study in the States launched the SEVIS Help Hub. The SEVIS Help Hub is a regularly updated, central location for school officials to access information regarding student records, school records and SEVIS release updates.
Throughout the year, Study in the States continued to add to new tools for stakeholders including the interactive SEVP Certification Life Cycle and the Study in the States widget, which helps you easily share our free resources with your students.