Not all school’s want to enroll students from abroad, but if your school does, then becoming Certified is a must. Below are some steps to help you achieve certification.
Immigration law and regulations provide for non-immigrant visitors to attend school in the United States. Individuals entering the United States for the sole purpose of attending school on a full-time basis must enter the
U.S. on a student visa (F or M), must attend a school/campus certified by SEVP, and must either pursue a degree program or attend a program for the attainment a specific educational, professional, or vocational objective.
Therefore, in order to enroll international students you must obtain SEVP certification from homeland security. Non-immigrant students who come to the United States to pursue full-time academic or vocational/ technical
training are usually admitted in one of two non-immigrant categories.
Category 1: F-1 category includes academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, Fine Arts, and language training.
Category 2: M-1 category includes vocational, technical training, flight schools, and nonacademic schools.
In order to become a certified school you must apply via The Department of Homeland Security. To do this schools must go onto the study in the states website and complete the Form I-17 petition online and pay all required fees at www.pay.gov.
SEVP will not schedule your institution for the required site visit until proper payment has been verified. A fee is required for this filing.
To succeed in submitting your school’s application, school officials must be able to prove the following about the institution and any programs that they wish to certify:
Please note this is not an exhaustive list of all requirements for SEVP certification.
Once a school submits the Form I-17 electronically and makes the payment, SCB receives the Form I-17 and verifies the payment. When the petition is received and the payment information is verified, SEVP will consider
the petition filed. SEVP reviews the petition for completeness. There may be an occasion where an SEVP Case Analyst will contact you prior to the site visit being scheduled. If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) electronically or
telephonically, the on-site visit will not be scheduled until the RFE is satisfied.
Receiving an RFE is extremely common so don’t worry! Make sure that you submit the information they request as soon as possible. It is very important that you do not delay as this will delay the entire process (which is already extremely lengthy!).
Once all of your paperwork has been approved, SEVP will schedule a site visit with a contracted site inspector within thirty days of the filing date. The site visit inspector schedules and conducts the site visit to gather evidence on eligibility, review the facilities, and to interview personnel identified on the petition as a PDSO or DSO.
The site inspection is NOT a pass/fail situation and the site inspector does not have the authority to pass or fail the school. This inspection is more to legitimize the school’s operations. This visit typically lasts about an hour and they will make sure you know how to log into the SEVIS system.
Make sure you read through the SEVIS generated email that is sent prior to the site inspection outlining the site visit process. This is really important information.
Once you have complete the site visit the inspector has twenty calendar days to submit all information from the site visit to the SCB. Your school
will not receive notification SCB received the site visit information. Remember that this is a government entity and things move pretty slowly!
Once the information is submitted, SEVP will review the package for completeness. If any required evidence is missing or clarification is needed, SEVP will send a RFE.
This entire process from start to finish takes about 9-12 months.
You’re almost there! Adjudication is more than just a formality it is a legal requirement. Information used for adjudication includes evidence submitted by the petitioner and verifying the information submitted is correct. This is the final process.
Adjudication takes a minimum of sixteen weeks from the date the petition enters the adjudication queue. Petitions are adjudicated on a first in, first served basis. It may seem like it takes forever, but be patient!
You will be notified via SEVIS by email of the adjudicated decision. If you school is approved to enroll non-immigrant students will receive a permanent user ID and password, via email, within 7 business days. The permanent ID and password will allow the school full access to SEVIS. An
approval letter is not mailed. Everything is completed online and via email.
Once your school is approved, it is included on the list of approved schools within four weeks of approval. This list is updated bi-weekly and does not list individual campus locations. Be sure to check online to see if your school is on the list. You can easily check the list here.
If your school is wanting to expand into the international market it is a good idea to begin this process sooner rather than later. Remember that this whole process can take 9-12 months so it is a good idea to get started as soon as possible. It also easier to obtain this certification if your school is already accredited. Want to learn more about accreditation? Check out our blog post about how accreditation work and why your school needs it.
Need additional information or need assistance? Check out our website for more information about how we can help you apply for SEVP certification. JAG Consulting Services