Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently provided an update about the SEVIS program. The following are some highlights from the updates:  

  1. SEVP’s new Response Center which was launched in January 2009 has received more than 3,000 inquiries since its inception. The number of inquiries continues to increase each month. SEVP stated that approximately 82% of the inquiries are resolved during the initial contact.  
  2. SEVP indicated that its Help Desk is receiving more inquiries this year than during the comparable period last year. SEVP indicated that approximately 85% of the Help Desk inquiries are resolved in the month of which they are received.  
  3. SEVP indicated that it will be issuing a proposed regulation to modernize its current regulations. SEVP indicated that it expects to publish the proposed regulation by the end of summer 2009. SEVP also indicated that it will be issuing recertification guidance and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) guidance in the future.  
  4. SEVP indicated that it will be coordinating recertification and SEVIS II implementation. Recertification was postponed by SEVP in January 2009.  
  5. SEVP confirms that when a student does not have qualifying Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment, time spent outside the United States counts towards the 90-day limit (or with STEM OPT, the 120 day limit) on authorized unemployment. SEVP did acknowledge that some students will encounter a delay in the visa issuance process while outside the United States. SEVP vaguely indicated that such delays may (not will) be taken into account on a case-by-case basis in determining a student’s continued eligibility for F-1 classification.  
  6. SEVP confirmed that tutoring and teaching positions in a student’s field of study can be considered employment for OPT if the student works more than 20 hours per week. However, the Designated Student Official (DSO) should indicate in the SEVIS system that the student is self-employed in this situation when not working directly for an employer.  
  7. According to SEVP, most appropriate action for a DSO to take when a student takes a leave of absence from school is to provide the student with an authorized early withdrawal in SEVIS. If the students leave of absence is less than five months outside the United States, the DSO should open a ticket with a SEVIS Help Desk to request that the student’s record be returned to active status within 30 days of the student’s return to the United States or the student attending a visa interview at a Consulate outside the United States, whichever is earlier. If the student’s absence is for more than five months, the student would be required to apply for a new visa and the DSO should issue an initial Form I-20 to the student.  
  8. SEVP stated that if a student needs to submit an application for post-completion OPT before the original end date of the pre-completion OPT as recorded in SEVIS, the DSO must contact the Help Desk to request that a second segment of OPT be added to the student’s record. SEVP indicated that it will be providing the Help Desk with instructions about how to add a second segment of OPT because the Help Desk has previously informed DSOs that this was not possible. However, the Help Desk can not shorten the period of pre-completion OPT currently in the SEVIS record because that it is a USCIS adjudicated decision.  
  9. SEVP has issued a Fact Sheet on how students should apply for a driver’s license or state identification card. In this fact sheet, SEVP provides that if an issuing Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is unable to issue a drivers license or state ID to a F-1 student or his/her F-2 dependents, the DSO should e-mail SEVP for assistance and include in the subject line “DMV Issue-Name of the State.” SEVP ask that you provide certain specific information and then SEVP will send an e-mail to the appropriate DMV representative and request that the case be reviewed. When SEVP receives additional information from the DMV, the SEVP will notify the DSO.