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Welcome to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Spotlight, a quarterly newsletter for the academic community which includes important program news, seasonal reminders and updates relevant to the international student life cycle.
SEVP Director's Corner: SEVP Announces Publication of Final Fee Rule to Adjust Program Fees
A message from Rachel Canty, Director of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program
As you know, on May 23, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule to adjust fees charged by SEVP to international students, exchange visitors and SEVP-certified schools. The new fees are an estimate of the current and projected costs of funding needed to continue enhancing SEVP’s ability to achieve our priorities—supporting national security and preventing immigration fraud. The final fee rule took effect June 24, 2019.
SEVP is funded entirely by fees charged to international students and SEVP-certified schools. Although the program’s fees have not changed since 2008, operating costs have increased due to inflation, expanded program operations and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) enhancements. We anticipated that the program would experience an average annual shortfall of $68.9 million beginning this month if we continued to operate at the previous fee levels. The new and increased fees eliminated this risk and allow us to continue to achieve our mission of enhancing national security and preventing immigration fraud.
In developing and adjusting fees, we identified key program priorities such as SEVIS enhancements, increased SEVP adjudication personnel and additional oversight of SEVP-certified schools. The new fees will help us respond to stakeholder requests to improve the SEVIS user experience and decrease school petition processing times.
Although the new adjustments will ultimately benefit our stakeholders by ensuring adequate funding for SEVP activities and program priorities, we wanted to make sure that we minimized the cost of these proposed fee adjustments to SEVP-certified schools as much as possible. We paid particularly close attention to the 76 percent of SEVP-certified schools that enroll less than 50 F or M students. For example, we collected U.S. Census data to estimate the revenue of SEVP-certified public schools, helping us examine the impact of the proposed fee rule on small public schools. We also determined an appropriate amount for each fee by tracing the cost of SEVP’s activities and forecasting fee payments.
We thank those of you that submitted comments on the proposed fee rule last year. We appreciate your feedback and offered responses in the final rule. For complete details on the final fee adjustments, how we made these decisions and our program priorities moving forward, I encourage you to read the final rule on the Federal Register.
We have shared information about the new fees through Broadcast Message, Study in the States blog posts, social media updates, GovDelivery emails and more. Keep an eye on these channels for updates about how we’re making progress with the program’s priorities.
We appreciate your feedback and thank you for your continued support.
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What's New on Study in the States
Check Out the New Recertification Series
Don’t miss Study in the States’ new blog series on recertification. The following blog posts provide an in-depth overview of the school recertification process in the SEVP school certification life cycle:
For more information on recertification, visit the Getting Started with SEVP Recertification page or the Recertification tab under the Schools and Programs section of ICE.gov/SEVP.
SEVP Publishes Guidance on Recruiters and the Form I-20
On June 4, 2019, SEVP published a policy guidance document on Form I-20 Issuance and School Use of Recruiters. This new policy guidance clarifies that for reasons of privacy, security and fraud prevention, the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Students,” must be issued directly by SEVP-certified schools to nonimmigrant students, their dependents or, for minors, their parent or guardian. Recruiters may not receive the Form I-20 directly from a school’s designated school official (DSO) and then distribute it to the student. Download the new policy guidance under the Policy tab of the Schools page on ICE.gov/SEVP.
If you have questions or comments about the guidance, please contact the SEVP Response Center.
Don't Miss New SEVP Fee Resources
On June 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security implemented new and increased fees for SEVP-certified schools, F and M international students and J exchange visitors. Don’t miss these new resources on Study in the States for schools and students:
- SEVP Fees infographic: This free, downloadable resource breaks down who pays which fees and provides links to payment instructions.
- I-901 SEVIS Fee video: This new video walks F, M, and J international students and exchange visitors through how to pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee.
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Field Representative Unit Update
Meet SEVP's New Field Representatives
In April 2019, SEVP deployed two new field representatives in New York and New Mexico. Field representatives serve as liaisons between SEVP and SEVP-certified schools. Learn more about the newest members of the Field Representative Unit below.
Alexandra Chow is the field representative for one of two territories in New York City. She previously served as the principal designated school official (PDSO) at The New School. Prior to that, she was the PDSO and responsible officer at Monroe College, where she authored the college’s application to become a sponsor program. Alexandra also has experience with academic advising and study abroad. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northern Vermont University and a master’s degree in college student personnel from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
Melissa Domblisky is the field representative for the El Paso and New Mexico territory. She previously served as the director of international compliance and PDSO for The Art Institute’s 60 locations, Argosy University and South University. Melissa has experience with various areas of student affairs, including student development, resident life and housing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising and video production, and a master’s degree in international leadership from South University.
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Conferences & Outreach Unit Update
Spring 2019 InFocus Webinar
The SEVP InFocus Webinar series, produced by SEVP’s Conferences and Outreach team, provides program updates each season. The Spring 2019 Webinar, on May 9, highlighted the latest news and updates affecting international students and SEVP-certified schools. The webinar is intended for designated school officials at SEVP-certified schools, and those interested in international student topics and trends.
The webinar covered:
- Government Accountability Office’s audit recommendations;
- Recent SEVP Portal releases;
- Science, technology, engineering and mathematics optional practical training reporting reminders;
- Record keeping best practices;
- Additional updates from other SEVP units, and
- Important resources on Study in the States.
To learn more about each topic, watch the recording of the Spring 2019 InFocus Webinar.
For more information and meeting materials, including the presentation, appendix and glossary, check out the Spring 2019 InFocus Webinar page on Study in the States.
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K-12 Best Practices
Change of Education Level: Primary to Secondary
The kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) international student population is the fastest growing user group in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This section of SEVP Spotlight helps K-12 schools understand how to comply with federal regulations and navigate the international student life cycle.
If your school has eighth grade students who plan to stay in the United States for high school—grades nine through 12—you will need to take action on their records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
For a primary level student, the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” should reflect a program end date for the completion of eighth grade. No later than 60 days after the program end date, create a change of education level Form I-20 for the student to continue studying at your campus at the secondary-education level.
When creating a Form I-20 for kindergarten through grade 12 students, it is important to remember the following:
- Primary education is kindergarten through eighth grade. Secondary education is ninth grade through 12th grade.
- The program end date should reflect the date the student is expected to complete the specific level of education. Changing a student’s education level creates a new Initial record and requires a new Form I-20.
- The new Form I-20 must be created no later than 60 days after the student’s current program end date. You can also create it sooner and provide it to the student at the end of the school year.
- This new Initial record needs to be activated within 30 days of the beginning of the student’s program start date for high school.
- You should continue to update the student’s Active record, as necessary, until the student has completed the current education level.
- Change of education level applies even when the student is staying at the same campus. If the student is changing education levels and moving to a different campus, you must transfer the student’s record.
For more information and step-by-step guidance on changing a student’s education level, visit the Change Education Level page on the SEVIS Help Hub.
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SEVP is dedicated to maintaining open communication with international students and academic officials. Our offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, except federal holidays.
SEVP has multiple contact options:
If you need assistance with passwords or Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) technical help, email SEVISHelpDesk@ice.dhs.gov.
To report national vulnerabilities or national security concerns, contact ICE's Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit at CTCEU@ice.dhs.gov.
To report exploitation of student visa programs, contact your local HSI special agent by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or visit www.ice.gov.
Disclaimer: The information presented in SEVP Spotlight is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.
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