The news media has reported extensively on how the U.S. government is seeking more efficient ways of managing data on international students in the United States. We have prepared this information to help you understand the kinds of data that Drury University, and all colleges and universities in the U.S., must maintain on international students and how this information is shared with the government in a manner prescribed by law. We hope you find this explanation helpful.
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exchange data on the immigration status of internationals. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 or J-1 student's academic career in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also have access to SEVIS.
Is SEVIS new?
Yes. And no. The requirement that schools provide the federal government with information about each student's status is not new. Most of the information that will be reported has been required by the INS for many years. But the existing paper-based system prevented widespread coordination among schools and governmental agencies. In 1996, Congress passed legislation directing the INS (now DHS) to move to an electronic data collection system. This program would come to be known as SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). Technical challenges and lack of funding delayed the program for several years. However, in October 2001, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act authorizing additional SEVIS funding and required nationwide compliance by January 30, 2003.
How does SEVIS work?
What data does SEVIS collect?
Drury University must report:
What does "fail to maintain status" mean?
Some examples of failure to maintain status include dropping from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval from the DSO, attending a school other than the one the student is authorized to attend, failure to apply for a timely transfer of schools, failure to apply for a timely extension of program, failure to apply for a timely change in level of studies, unauthorized employment, and failure to report a change of address in 10 days.
What are the consequences if a student fails to maintain status?
The student's record will be updated with SEVIS every semester. Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student immigration status and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status, denial of requests for practical training, denial of requests for change of immigration status, and possible denial of all future visa applications.
Can a student who is "out of status" regain legal status?
If a student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the DSO, the "event" would be reported to DHS, via SEVIS, and the student would be out of status. The student may apply to DHS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement if s/he is out of status longer than five months unless s/he can show exceptional circumstances beyond her/his control such as: serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, or a natural disaster. If DHS does not reinstate the student, he or she may not appeal that decision.
How will Drury help students comply with the immigration laws?
Drury is committed in assisting students in ways that prevent status violations from occurring. F-1 students new to Drury must physically check in with the International Support Services Office (ISS) during new international student orientation. ISS reviews the student's immigration documents and confirms in SEVIS that the student has arrived on campus. International students are not able to drop below a full course of study without prior authorization from ISS.
"Full-time" means 12 credits fall and spring semester for undergraduates, and 8 credits for graduate students.
Acceptable reasons for reduced credit load include:
Students must complete at least 6 credit hours even with authorization for a reduced course load (except for medical reasons or last semester for degree ). Remember, only the Designated School Official in the ISO has authority to authorize a reduced credit load!
What happens if Drury fails to comply with the SEVIS regulations?
The DHS is required to audit Drury’s compliance with these new requirements every two years. Failure to comply with the federal regulations could result in the loss of Drury’s ability to accept international students.
Will SEVIS benefit students in any way?
Data moves faster through an electronic system than through a paper system. Students can expect that DHS forms will be produced faster, applications for benefits such as practical training will be approved more quickly, and visas will be granted with shorter delays.
What should students do to prepare for SEVIS?
Where can I find information about SEVIS? The DHS has a good web site.
The ISS has scheduled information meetings about SEVIS throughout the semester. Check your e-mail and our web site for announcements. Also, if you have specific questions about your immigration status, call ISS at 873-7885, visit us in the Findlay Student Center, room 113, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.