A Private School at the elementary and secondary grade levels (i.e., K-12) is eligible for Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification. Unlike a Public School that may only enroll an F-1 student for one year, regulations place no limit on the length of time an F-1 student may attend a private SEVP-certified school. All schools must be certified by SEVP in order to enroll F-1 or M-1 students. To learn more about the responsibilities and commitment involved with SEVP-certification, please visit the Study in the States' Certification Responsibilities page.
Special notes for minor children of F-1 and M-1 students include:
- A minor F-2 or M-2 dependent of an F-1 or M-1 student may attend public K-12 school at the appropriate grade level without any additional permission or documentation from SEVP.
- State education laws may require that F-2 and M-2 students attend the appropriate grade level until a certain age.
- The elementary, middle or secondary school an F-2 or M-2 student attends does not need to be SEVP-certified.
- For a minor F-2 or M-2 dependent to transfer from a public school to a private school, the F-1 or M-1 student and/or F-2 spouse, if applicable, should talk to the school’s DSO.
If an F-2 or M-2 dependent who wants to continue studying in the United States, learn more on the Change of Status page.
Summer English Language Training Programs
The Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act requires all schools that issue the Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," for English language training to be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
If a school offers an English language training program during the summer when the school’s primary and/or secondary program of study is on annual break, your school can consider this program to be:
- Part of the student’s orientation period for an Initial student.
The designated school official (DSO) can indicate the summer English language training on the student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as the program start date, up to 30 days before the start of classes; or
- Study incidental to status for a continuing student in Active status.
A student that received a Form I-20 and was enrolled in a full course of study during the previous academic term may take classes outside their full course of study during their authorized break.
For programs for F-1 English language training students who arrive during the summer term in Initial status and plan to attend a different school in the fall, the school providing the English language training instruction must submit a separate Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” in SEVIS and obtain SEVP certification. After the school and program are SEVP-certified, the DSO must then issue a Form I-20 for the English language training program. Since the student will be physically present at your school, but will not enroll in that school in the fall, this period of study cannot be considered part of the student’s orientation. The student will need to be transferred to the second school, also SEVP-certified, to begin academic study.
If a school is SEVP-certified or seeking to become certified as a diocese, archdiocese or similar administrative unit, please use the administrative unit’s name as the main name on your Form I-17. However, if the Form I-17 is only for one school within a diocese or similar administrative unit, it is best to use the school name as the main name in SEVIS.
Please ensure that every location where the school may have international students is listed separately on your Form I-17 information in SEVIS. Review SEVP’s policy guidance on instructional sites to determine whether the school should add a given location in SEVIS as a separate instructional site. Visit Study in the States’ reference page to find out more information about how to update your Form I-17.