US flag   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States

View Disclaimer


Students: Protect Yourself by Choosing a Compliant School

April 12, 2017

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certifies U.S. schools and programs to admit international students to ensure the schools are legitimate. To find out if a school or program you are interested in attending is SEVP-certified, please refer to the School Search tool on Study in the States.

However, it is also important for students to understand some of the warning signs of fraudulent schools because enrolling in one could adversely impact a student’s ability to continue their studies in the United States.

For instance, while searching for schools and before arriving to the United States, prospective students should be careful if:

  • The school emphasizes or student testimonials indicate that work or on-the-job training is the primary purpose of enrolling. F and M students’ primary purpose for coming to the United States is to study.  There are strict rules about employment you must follow to maintain your status.
  • The school implies or students indicate that class attendance is not required. To properly maintain status, F and M students must enroll in a full course of study each term and there are rules about how many classes must require in-person attendance.
  • The school or program does not request records/proof of past education, coursework and financial information from you before they issue you a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

Once you arrive at school, some warning signs to look out for include:

  • There is not enough classroom space on the campus for all the students enrolled.
  • You are not required to enroll in and attend a full course load.
  • You are immediately permitted to work or engage in on-the-job training full time or away from the school location.
  • You are not required to report to your designated school official at the beginning of every term or semester.

If you have encountered some of these warning signs, please contact the SEVP Response Center with your concerns.

Back to Blog

Was This Helpful?

Additional Feedback
Additional Feedback