The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Blue Campaign occurs every January to raise awareness for and prevent human trafficking. To coincide with this, DHS recently announced the department’s Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation. In support of this announcement, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is sharing reminders for designated school officials (DSO) on how they can help ensure the health, safety and welfare of their international students.
According to a recently released U.S. Department of State report, student visas are potentially used to traffic people in Australia, France, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Cyprus, the Philippines and Tunisia. In a separate report in 2018, Polaris identified 34 confirmed victims of human trafficking who were in the United States temporarily working on an F-1 visa between 2015 and 2017.
Kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) DSOs are typically the first line of defense in ensuring the heath, safety and welfare of their international students while they are in the United States. Usually a K-12 student is a minor who needs support and guidance while they are in the United States. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure the safety of your students.
Tip 1: Verify Your Student’s Address
As a best practice, SEVP recommends that K-12 DSOs verify that a student’s U.S. physical address is current in SEVIS when completing registration to ensure the safety of the student. Without a known address, a minor student cannot be easily located during an emergency. SEVP also recommends performing a background check of a K-12 student’s host family and having contact information for the host family.
Tip 2: Know the Indicators of Human Trafficking
Familiarize yourself with DHS’ Blue Campaign and the indicators of human trafficking to help ensure the safety of your international students:
- Has the student stopped attending school?
- Has the student had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
- Does the student appear to be coached on what to say?
- Is the student living in unsuitable conditions?
Tip 3: Complete Your Regulatory Requirement to Register Your Students in SEVIS
You can also help ensure the health, safety and welfare of their students by following their regulatory requirement to register students no later than 30 days of the start of each session. Failure to register students at the beginning of each school session jeopardizes F and M students’ nonimmigrant status and can impact the students’ ability to re-enter the United States in the future.
For case-specific questions on registration, contact your field representative or call the SEVP Response Center. If you would like to report suspicious activity, call the HSI Tip line.