Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently provided guidance to its adjudicators about how schools should report instructional sites to SEVP. To ensure that an F or M student maintains nonimmigrant status, SEVP requires schools to notify it of the physical location where an F or M student may receive instruction. In 2008, SEVP introduced the term "instructional site" but failed to provide official guidance as to what constituted an instructional site. Therefore, schools were uncertain as to when to report new or existing locations where its students may receive instruction. This was further complicated by unofficial guidance provided by various SEVP officials which at times seemed to contradict previous unofficial guidance.
In the current official guidance, SEVP acknowledges that this lack of guidance caused confusion among schools. Therefore, the guidance defines what is an instructional site and what are the reporting requirements that a school has when notifying SEVP about new and/or existing sites. The guidance differentiates between public and accredited schools versus unaccredited schools. For public or accredited schools, SEVP indicated that school officials must submit and maintain SEVIS information for the main instruction site, all instructional sites where an F or M student may receive 50% or more of a program study, and all separate record locations. For unaccredited schools, school officials must submit and maintain SEVIS information for all instructional sites and any separate record locations. SEVP indicated that it still has discretion to require public or accredited schools to submit information on all instructional sites as well as separate record locations.
The guidance became effective on March 22, 2013. The guidance reminds adjudicators that SEVP-certified schools must update their Form I-17 within 21 days of a change regarding instructional sites and separate record locations. Schools that fail to do so may subject the school to withdrawal of certification. Therefore, schools that are not in compliance with this new guidance appear to have 21 days from March 22, 2013 to come in compliance with this new guidance. The guidance reminds schools that the burden remains with the school officials to accurately report instructional sites and separate record locations on the Form I-17.