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Adaptive Policies for Nontraditional Programs


As the trend toward nontraditional, dynamic educational programs continues, stakeholders recognize the need to address the innovative shifts to the way programs are structured in higher education. However, they suggest that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provide guidance that accommodates and facilitates modern and innovative educational programs.

Specifically, stakeholders request that SEVP provide guidance on secondary postgraduate year programs (Grade 13) programs and pathway programs. Stakeholders also suggest that SEVP provide guidance facilitating or at least allowing executive and intermittent residency programs, and believe the program should consider using commuter student rules and leave of absence rules in innovative ways to facilitate these programs.

Government Response

SEVP recognizes the need for policies that evolve with trends in higher education and works to issue new policy guidance as needed. Specifically, SEVP released final guidance on pathway programs for reasons of English proficiency in October 2016. In March 2016, SEVP also issued draft guidance on secondary postgraduate year programs (Grade 13) for public comment. SEVP understands that these guidance documents address just two of the many different types of nontraditional programs available to students, but hopes that these beginnings will be helpful for certain institutions.

SEVP appreciates stakeholder feedback and suggestions for improvements to better suit nontraditional programs. Stakeholders are encouraged to contact SEVP with observations from the field and with items to include in any future policy guidance addressing nontraditional programs. Although the program is discussing the issue internally, government priorities dictate SEVP’s future policy and regulatory plans. 



The timeline below illustrates the steps taken to communicate SEVP's progress to date. 

March 2016

SEVP releases its first draft guidance for public comment for the nontraditional programs related to secondary postgraduate year programs. For more information, please visit the Secondary Postgraduate Year Programs (Grade 13) topic in the Trends and Improvements Section.

October 2016

SEVP releases final guidance on Pathway Programs for Reasons of English Proficiency, and includes a fact sheet that explains how to handle this type of nontraditional programs in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. For more information, please visit the Pathway Programs topic in the Trends and Improvements Section.