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SEVP Releases Final Guidance for Pathway Programs

October 31, 2016

On Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released final guidance S7.2: Pathway Programs for Reasons of English Proficiency. This guidance is available in the Operating Instruction section of, under the Policy Guidance tab.

SEVP Policy Guidance S7.2 provides information regarding pathway programs for F-1 postsecondary students who fail to meet the English proficiency requirements for admission into a certified degree program of study, or need to improve English competencies for that program.

Attached within the guidance document is Fact Sheet FS S7.2 – Pathway Programs. The fact sheet outlines Student and Exchange Visitor Information System instructions for how to:

  • Input pathway program information into the school’s Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.”
  • Properly issue a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” for a pathway program.

SEVP released this final guidance to meet the majority of stakeholders’ concerns, and specifically focuses on English language training components of pathway programs. The guidance also addresses requirements for credit-bearing courses and simplifies terminology by removing use of “bridge” and “bridged degree” when referring to programs.

Please note this guidance does not address the following topics:

  • Pathway programs unrelated to English proficiency.
  • Reduced course load for academic difficulties.
  • Concurrent enrollment.
  • Developmental English as a Second Language coursework during a student’s orientation period.

As a reminder, final guidance is official SEVP policy that establishes standards or requirements and is used in SEVP adjudications. Final guidance is not open for public comment. It is intended to clarify laws or regulations related to SEVP adjudications and does not replace or supersede those laws or regulations.

If you have questions about SEVP Policy Guidance S7.2 Pathway Programs for Reasons of English Proficiency, please email them to the SEVP Response Center at

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