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SEVIS Update

GENERAL

Non-SEVIS I-20AB Forms issued prior to January 30, 2003, will remain valid until August 1, 2003. After August 1, non-SEVIS I-20AB Forms can no longer be used for entry or any other purpose. Schools have been afforded a transition period in order to enter all current students into SEVIS through August 1, 2003. This means that if you are changing your major, getting an extension, changing funding information, adding dependents or traveling at the end of Spring 2003 semester to go home will all be issued a SEVIS I-20AB. Others who plan not to do any of the above will then called to OIA and issued a SEVIS I-20AB prior to August 1, 2003.

The new rule clarifies that a student may not maintain status by simply enrolling "for administrative purposes" after all academic work is completed.

DEPARTURE

The final rule establishes two grace periods for departure preparation: a student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies has 60 days in order to depart, transfer, or file for change of status. A student who has been authorized to withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart from the U.S. Students who terminate their course of study without obtaining prior approval are not eligible for any additional grace period.

FULL COURSE OF STUDY

A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval the Director of the OIA will be considered out of status. The OIA must also authorize a reduced course load in advance of the "final semester of study" even if fewer courses of study are needed for completion. If it is your graduating semester and you will be less than full time, you need to write a letter to the OIA and Graduate School (if applicable) which includes your name, major, student number, reason why you're less than full-time, and your signature.

EXTENSION OF STAY

The OIA may not grant an extension if the student applied for an extension after the program end date noted on the SEVIS I-20AB. An F-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time listed on their SEVIS I-20AB and who is ineligible for program extension is considered out of status. If eligible, the student may apply for reinstatement. An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date on the SEVIS Form I-20AB may be granted an extension if the student has continually maintained status and that the delays are caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major of research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension is not acceptable reasons for program extensions.

TRANSFER

Students must resume classes within five months of transferring out of their current school or within five months of the program completion date as indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20AB issued by the current school, whichever date is earlier. For transfer students authorized to engage in OPT, the student must be able to resume classes within five months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier. Students ineligible for a transfer may depart the country and return as an initial entry in F-1 status. A student is not otherwise permitted to remain in the U.S. when transferring between schools.

In a transfer from a SEVIS school to another SEVIS school, the final rule introduces the concept of a "release date" for transfer procedures. The student first notifies the current school of his or her intent to transfer. The current school updates the student's SEVIS record as a "transfer out," indicating the school the student intends to transfer to and a "release date." The "release date" will be the current semester completion date, or the date of the expected transfer, if different than established academic cycle. The current school retains control of the student's SEVIS record until the release date is reached. The student may cancel the transfer request at any time prior to the release date. After the release date the current school will no longer have access to the SEVIS record, and thus will be unable to cancel the request after the release date. The student is required to contact the transfer school within 15 days of the program start date.

Beginning classes at another educational level or transferring to another school is grounds for automatic termination of OPT.

CURRICULUM PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to OIA. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her SEVIS I-20AB with the Director's endorsement. To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training the Director will update the student's record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student's major area of study. The student will provide a letter from the faculty member stating the class that will be used to apply for curriculum training and a letter from the employer. The Director will indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, the employer and location, and the employment start and end date. Then print a copy of the student's SEVIS Form I-20AB indicating that curricular practical training has been approved. The Director must sign, date and return the SEVIS Form I-20AB to the student prior to the student's commencement of employment.

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

Under the new rule, 12 months of OPT are available to F-1's at each program level. OPT is for 12 months.

In making a recommendation for optional practical training under SEVIS, the DSO will update the student's record in SEVIS as having been recommended for optional practical training. The DSO will indicate in SEVIS whether the employment is to be full-time or part-time, and note in SEVIS the start and end date of employment. The DSO will then print the employment page of the student's SEVIS Form I- 20AB, and sign and date the form to indicate that optional practical training has been recommended. The F-1 student will then file with the service center for an Employment Authorization Document, on Form I-765, with a fee (a check for $380.00 payable to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the SEVIS Form I-20AB employment page indicating that optional practical training has been recommended by the Director. An F-1 student seeking practical training (excluding curricular practical training) may not accept employment until he or she has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the USCIS.

F-2 VISA

At the time they seek admission, the eligible spouse and minor children of an F-1 student may be admitted in F-2 status if they present an original SEVIS Form I-20AB issued in the name of each F-2 dependent issued by a school authorized by the Service for attendance by F-1 foreign students.

F-2 dependents are permitted to attend elementary, middle and high school on a full-time basis. F-2's are also permitted to engage in part-time post-secondary study that is "a vocational or recreational in nature that is if a student engages in study to pursue a hobby or if the study is that of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature, such study may be considered as a vocational or recreational.". This means that the F-2 spouse of an F1 student may not engage in full-time study. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child desiring to engage in full time-study must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1 prior to beginning as a full time student. F-2's cannot go to school as a degree-seeking student.

REINSTATEMENT

The district director may consider reinstatement of a student who has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing for reinstatement. In other words, if the student fails to become aware of the status violation after five months, he or she is generally ineligible for reinstatement. However, a student may demonstrate "exceptional circumstances" for seeking reinstatement after five months and that the request was filed as "promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances." In addition, just as under the old rule, the student must also be pursuing a full course of study, have not engaged in unauthorized employment and cannot be deportable on any grounds.

In order to be reinstated, the student must present a "detailed showing" that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond his control, such as "serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, or a natural disaster, but does not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement."

REPORTING

The OIA must update SEVIS prior to the student's reducing his or her course load with the date and reason for the authorization, as well as the start date of the next semester. The OIA must also notify SEVIS within 21 days of the resumption of the full course load.

Schools must report to SEVIS within 21 days of their occurrence the following events:

  • a student's failure to maintain status or complete a course of study;
  • a change in a student or dependent's name or address;
  • a student who has graduated early or before the completion date on SEVIS Form I-20AB;
  • a disciplinary action against the student as a result of a conviction for a crime; and any other notification request made by SEVIS with respect to current student status.

Registration information for each term or session must be reported "no later than 30 days after the deadline for registering for classes" whether the enrolled student dropped below a full course of study without prior authorization; and start date of the student's next term or session, the student has enrolled at the school, or failed to enroll, the current address of each enrolled student, the start date of the student's next session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter.

The rule requires students to notify the DSO within 10 days of any change of address using Form AR-11. You can download the form from the OIA web site or get a copy from the OIA Office. We want to stress that notifying The University of Louisiana at Lafayette does not satisfy the notification requirement. Before you mail the AR-11 to the USCIS, we recommend that you keep a photocopy of the form for your records, as with any other application you submit to USCIS.

There are possible consequences to aliens who willfully refuse to report their address. INA Section 266(b) states:

"Any alien or any parent or legal guardian in the United States of any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265 of this title, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $200 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Irrespective of whether an alien is convicted and punished as herein provided, any alien who fails to give written notice to the Attorney General, as required by section 265, shall be taken into custody and removed in the manner provided by chapter 4 of this title, unless such alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful."