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Adding New Programs with Future Start Dates

Background

Stakeholders note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) denied some, but not all, Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” updates filed to add a new instructional program. Stakeholders reported that SEVP cited the program’s future start date as a cause for denial.

Most schools request a Form I-17 update to add a new program once they finalize the program’s necessary arrangements but before actual instruction begins. This makes sense for them from the perspective of business practices and to be able to enroll international students in the program upon establishment. Although many schools refile and later receive SEVP approval, a program’s implementation may be delayed by up to an entire academic year due to its inability to offer instruction to international students.

Government Response

To address this situation, SEVP released internal draft guidance in 2015 for its federal adjudicators. The internal guidance discusses the limited circumstances under which an accredited school’s new program can receive SEVP certification without prior student enrollment. 

Federal adjudicators currently operate under this guidance. SEVP intends to release this internal guidance for public comment at a later date.

Timeline

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

2015
August 2015

SEVP adjudicators participate in NAFSA webinar to answer stakeholder questions about Form I-17 update requests. 

December 2015

SEVP releases internal guidance to federal adjudicators discussing the limited circumstances under which an accredited school’s new program can receive SEVP certification without prior student enrollment.