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Address FAQ

Last updated 26-Jan-2018

Timeline for Implementation of Address Validation

Q: When will address validation be implemented?
A: Address validation will be implemented in 2015, after batch testing has ended. Batch testing will began in November 2014.

Types of Addresses to be Validated

Q: Will SEVIS validate all addresses, including international addresses?
A: No. SEVIS will validate only U.S. addresses.

General Questions about Address Validation

Q: Will SEVIS require the entry of the full 9-digit zip code?
A: No. You only need to enter the 5-digit zip code.

Q: Will the character limits for the address fields change?
A: Address lines 1 and 2 will increase to 64 characters from the current limit of 60.

Q: My school/program uses an address validation tool. What will happen if the address validation tool in SEVIS does not validate an address that our system has validated?
A: Our research shows that most address validation software uses U.S. Postal Service (USPS) standards, so we do not anticipate a problem. However, if the address does not validate, school/program officials still have the ability to enter the address.

Q: How will SEVIS handle rural addresses that do not have house numbers and are often P.O. Boxes or rural route addresses? West Virginia does not have rural mail delivery and P.O. Boxes are common.
A: We have not yet determined how rural addresses will be handled.

Note: P.O. Boxes are not permissible for exchange visitor U.S. addresses and sites of activity.

Q: What is a “low quality” address?
A: A low quality address is one where the city or state does not correspond to the zip code or where Address Line 1 and Address Line 2 do not indicate where it is.

Q: What should school/sponsor officials do to validate current addresses considering that some organizations have more than 3600 addresses to check?
>A: School/sponsor officials should work with their IT department to see if there are validation tools they can use, as it will be difficult for institutions with large populations to check each individual address.

Q: We put both the residence hall address, which is not verifiable, and P.O. Box in the address line. Should we only be listing the P.O. Box?
A: We want to have a mechanism that would make it possible to verify the residence hall address, while minimizing the work on your part; but we do not have a solution for this yet.

Q: Will there be any connection between the AR-11 and the SEVIS Addresses?
A: No. There are no plans to create an interface between these two systems. We will explore the feasibility of developing an interface with USCIS.

Q: Should apartment numbers be entered in Address Line 1 or in Address Line 2?
A: Apartment numbers should be entered in Address Line 1. That is a USPS standard.

Q: Please clarify which address we should be recording – the U.S. mailing address or the physical address. Longstanding SEVP guidance has been to enter the address where the nonimmigrant sleeps, not the mailing address.
A: For F and M students, SEVP must have the physical address since SEVIS only allows entry of one address at this time.

For exchange visitors, in July 2014, Department of State is adding fields to capture the exchange visitor’s mailing address in SEVIS real-time interface. Mailing address has been added to the batch environment in November 2014.

Q: Would SEVIS reject an address with a P.O. Box?
A: SEVP has not yet decided whether P.O. Boxes will be allowed under the new standards.

Note: J Program sponsors should not use P.O. Boxes in the address fields and must enter the exchange visitor’s physical address. Per Department of State guidance, the purpose of the address is to locate the exchange visitor.

Q: What do you mean when you say the system will “correct” addresses? Isn’t a correction still a change to the address; and wouldn’t this still be a mismatch in data between SEVIS and our system?
A: Address corrections made by the system would entail changing spelling errors (i.e., Atalanta to Atlanta) or correcting the zip code to match the street address. The address is not changed, as it is the same address, just corrected. SEVP is working on the details of how school/sponsor officials will be notified of address changes in batch.

Q: Would you have address validation Application Programming Interface (API) available?
A: No. We do not have the rights to share this functionality.

Q: Will address validation apply only to the student’s local address or would it also apply to the student’s employer address?
A: Initially address validation will apply only to the nonimmigrant’s residential address in the United States. Address validation will also apply to the exchange visitor’s physical address and all sites of activity addresses.

Eventually, address validation will apply to the address of the student’s employer. This functionality is scheduled for release in 2015; along with the changes that affect Optional Practical Training.

Q: Will hotel addresses validate in SEVIS?
A: Yes. Any valid U.S. address that meets USPS standards will validate. It will most likely validate as a commercial address, but it would still validate.

Q: Will the address validation be done directly through SEVIS, or will we have to access the address validation tool separately?
A: Address validation would be done directly through SEVIS. For addresses already in SEVIS, the system will initiate a mass validation of those addresses and give us a sense of the quality of those addresses. As you enter addresses into SEVIS using the real-time interface or batch, the validation occurs at that time.

Q: Does it matter if addresses are entered in upper and lower case letters, or must addresses be entered in ALL CAPS?
A: Addresses can be entered in upper and lower case letters. Address information is not case sensitive.

Q: Will students and exchange visitors ever be able to enter their own addresses in SEVIS?
A: There are currently no plans to allow nonimmigrant access to SEVIS.

Q: Students and some exchange visitors change dormitory addresses annually. Should we update the dormitory name and room number each year?
A: Yes. Addresses for students and exchange visitors must be updated whenever there is a change.

Q: Our students and exchange visitors live in a number of apartments in a nearby apartment building. We currently list that building as their local address, but we do not specify the apartment number. Is this acceptable? Would it be better to list our school building (across the street) as the students' local address?
A: No. List both the apartment building’s street address and the nonimmigrants’ apartment number. Do not list your institution’s building as the nonimmigrants’ local address, because they do not live there.

Q: What will happen if an address doesn't validate? Will we get an error message and be unable to continue with a task?
A: You will get an error message. The error message asks you to confirm that the address is correct; and then you will be able to continue with your task.

Q: Could SEVP extend a license for Address Doctor to schools/sponsors/vendors, so that we can test addresses before the conversion?
A: No. SEVP is unable to extend its license to other organizations. The functionality of Address Doctor will be available to school and sponsor officials through SEVIS and will be available through the SEVIS beta environment for testing, prior to full implementation.

Address Alerts and Notifications to School/Sponsor Officials

Q: Will there be new SEVIS alerts for addresses of “low quality?”
A: Yes. We will give you an alert list for addresses of low quality.

Q: Will schools and sponsors be notified if SEVIS changes the address for students, exchange visitors, or for ourselves?
A: No. SEVIS will not change addresses, but will correct them to bring them up to standards. For example, if you enter Atalanta instead of Atlanta, we plan to correct the misspelling. There are no plans to notify school/sponsor officials of this change.

Q: My institution uses address validation software. Roughly, three percent of the addresses that fail to validate are real addresses. Will it be possible to enter addresses that are not verifiable by U.S. Postal standards?
A: Yes. You will be able to enter addresses that cannot be verified. You will be able to over-ride an unverifiable address and have SEVIS accept the entry.

Q: Will the new address validation tool check to see if the place of study/site of activity is the same as where the nonimmigrant is living? In some situations, sites of activity in remote areas have residence rooms; therefore, they would be the same.
A: No. The address validation tool will not compare different types of addresses. It will only establish whether or not the address is valid.

Addresses in the Batch Environment

Q: How will you address data mismatches between SEVIS and batch systems, if schools are not notified of system-initiated changes to addresses?
A: There are no plans to notify schools when addresses change. It may be possible to provide a report.

Q: Will there be an alpha test site for Batch testing?
A: We will have a testing site available for both RTI and batch users.

Q: Many large institutions have their own zip code. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers the mail to a central mail room and the institution delivers it. There are concerns that campus addresses will not validate by batch. Will there be a method by batch to state that an address is true, if it fails initial validation? It is critical that large schools have the ability to do this via batch, as doing this through RTI for over 1,000 students living on campus is not feasible.
A: We are still working on requirements for validation of addresses via batch. At a minimum, validation of addresses via batch will require city, state, and zip code matches.

Q: In batch, would an address with a valid city, state, and zip validate, even if the Address Line 1 did not?
A: Yes.

Addresses Validation Questions from J Program Sponsors

Q: As a Summer Work Travel J sponsor, we currently list the name of the site of activity in Address Line 1. Will this change?
A: The Department of State recently sent out guidance instructing Summer Work Travel sponsors to enter the site of activity in the Site of Activity Name field. The Address Line 1 field should contain the actual street address for the site of activity.

Q: Will you validate Site of Activity addresses?
A: Yes. We will validate two addresses for exchange visitors: the residential address and the site of activity.

Q: I work for an Au Pair program and did not get the guidance referenced in the previous question. Can you summarize the address requirements for J programs?
A: Department of State has issued new address guidance that applies only to the Summer Work Travel category. Under this guidance, the sponsor records the site of activity’s street address in Address Line 1 and the name of the site in the Site of Activity Name field.

Au Pair programs should continue to follow existing guidance and record address, as follows:

  • Address Line 1: Host family name
  • Address Line 2: Street address

This will eventually change as we prepare to transition to address validation. Department of State is crafting guidance to instruct sponsors how to record addresses properly.

Q: Many of our J-1 researchers are located in remote areas that are off the map, such as a tiny cabin in the woods. Will such remote addresses pose a problem?
A: Many exchange visitors work in remote areas. We will not know how SEVIS’ address validation will work for these types of locations until we test them during the testing period. Once we can evaluate how the system handles those types of addresses, we can determine what actions need to be taken to accommodate them.

Q: Can program sponsors enter an address with a P.O. Box?
A: No. J Program sponsors should not use P.O. Boxes and must enter the exchange visitor’s physical address. Per Department of State guidance, the purpose of the address is to locate the exchange visitor.

Q: Currently when we make biographical updates for an initial exchange visitor, we are required to enter a U.S. address, even if the person is still outside the United States and has no U.S. address yet. Can the U.S. address be made optional until they enter the United States?
A: Yes, this will be changed in a future release.