ACICS Loss of Recognition: What it Means for Schools and International Students
On April 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) temporarily reinstated its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as the department conducts a further review of the accrediting body. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will continue to monitor the evolving situation and review its impact on stakeholders on a case-by-case basis.
On Dec. 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency.
This decision affects more than 16,000 international students in the United States attending nearly 130 Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified schools and programs that are accredited by ACICS.
Most SEVP-certified schools are not required to obtain accreditation and can provide evidence in lieu of accreditation. However, there are two instances when SEVP-certified schools must be accredited:
- English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are required to be accredited under the Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act.
- F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension must use a degree from an accredited, SEVP-certified school as the basis of their STEM OPT extension. The school must be accredited at the time the student applies.
ACICS-accredited ESL programs must take action if they wish to remain SEVP-certified and continue enrolling international students.
International students must take action if they are:
- Participating in an ACICS-accredited ESL program.
- Attending an ACICS-accredited school and wanting to participate in STEM OPT in the future.
For more detailed information and guidance, students and schools should visit ICE.gov/SEVP. If you have a specific question, you may also contact the SEVP Response Center.