Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

SEVP, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program,
has the important role of protecting national security while supporting the international
student exchange for the more than one million international students, exchange visitors
and their dependents in the United States. SEVP is a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations directorate which is the largest investigative
arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. SEVP supports ICE’s mission to protect national
security and enforce immigration laws. To contribute to this mission, SEVP manages
the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS, which serves as a
national security tool to monitor international students and the schools that enroll them. SEVIS information is shared throughout HSI
and ICE and with our government and law enforcement partners including U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State, and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. There are approximately 10,000 certified schools
in SEVIS that can enroll international students. Schools wishing to enroll international students
first must apply and be granted SEVP certification to accept international students. Following certification, these schools must
appoint a designated school official, known as a DSO, to be the point of contact for students
and SEVP and to facilitate the school certification process. The certification process includes: filing
the Department of Homeland Security Form I-17; providing required evidence; receiving a school
visit from SEVP; and undergoing a comprehensive adjudication process. Once a school is SEVP-certified, schools are
continuously monitored through SEVIS for compliance with federal regulations. Schools that do
not comply can lose their certification. SEVP recertifies schools on an ongoing basis
to ensure compliance with federal regulations. There are three types of nonimmigrants reported
in SEVIS based on their visa status: F, M and J. F and M nonimmigrants are the more traditional
academic and vocational students. A J-1 exchange visitor participates in such
programs as short term scholars, au pairs and summer work travel. DSOs at SEVP-certified schools issue prospective
F and M international students a Form I-20. The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs designated U.S. sponsors use SEVIS information to issue the Form DS-2019
to J-1 exchange visitor visa applicants. A nonimmigrant applying for any of these visa
categories then uses the appropriate forms to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate or
Embassy. DSOs are responsible for entering the information
about F and M international students into SEVIS. SEVP and law enforcement entities monitor
the F and M students’ activity for the duration of their program of study. At SEVP, we also work to craft policies and
regulations for schools and students to ensure compliance. Through administrative actions,
SEVP’s Analysis and Operations Center works with our law enforcement partners to support
HSI criminal investigations. SEVP’s Response Center answers questions from international
students and school officials. With a multi-faceted international student
process involving several different agencies, it’s crucial that students and schools understand
and comply with immigration rules. To help, we have a robust outreach program to communicate
with our stakeholders. The Study in the States website is a Department
of Homeland Security resource for international students and school officials, offering government
news, agency-sponsored webinars, and the latest information they need in order to stay in
compliance with immigration rules. For more information visit

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