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Designated School Official

One requirement for a school to be Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified is that the school must have dedicated employees for assisting and overseeing enrolled F and M students:

  • Principal designated school official (PDSO).
  • Designated school officials (DSO)

The role of a DSO is defined in 8 CFR 214.3 (l)(1), which can be found on the Regulations page of Each campus or physical location must have a PDSO, whose duties also include serving as the main point of contact for issues related to SEVP certification. SEVP-certified schools can nominate as many additional DSOs as the school determines that it need.

DSO Requirements

The president, owner or head of a school or school system must nominate DSOs by signing a Form I-17A, “Record of Designated School Officials.” Each individual nominated to be a DSO must also sign the Form I-17A, certifying their familiarity with relevant regulations of admission and maintenance of status for F and M students and school certification. A DSO nominee’s signature also affirms that the individual will comply with these regulations.

  • A DSO must be either a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States. To prove this status to SEVP, school officials must provide one of the following with the Form I-17A:
  • Copy of U.S. passport (current or expired). Copy of a U.S. civil-issued birth certificate. Copy of an alien registration card. Copy of a naturalization or citizenship certificate.
  • A DSO must be a regularly employed member of the school administration whose office is located at the school.
  • A DSO’s compensation must not come from commissions for the recruitment of foreign students.
  • For a full summary of SEVIS reporting requirements for DSOs, please visit or access the Record Keeping Requirements PDF in the Study in the States Resource Library.
  • A PDSO may update the school’s list of DSOs by adding or deleting names in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). For more information, please see the Petition Updates tab on
Responsibilities of a DSO

Federal law requires DSOs to update and maintain student records in SEVIS. For more information on specific reporting requirements, please read the SEVIS Reporting Requirements for Designated School Officials fact sheet or view the SEVP Record Keeping Requirements PDF.

A DSO also helps international students avoid problems by advising them on how to follow required processes. Some common issues international students may have questions about or should report to a DSO are:

  • Working in the United States.
  • Applying for a driver’s license.
  • Applying for a Social Security number.
  • Changing their major, program or degree level.
  • Changing their education level.
  • Transferring to a new school or taking a leave of absence.
  • Taking a break from school.
  • Traveling outside the United States.
  • Moving to a new address.
  • Changing their name.
  • Requesting a program extension.




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