Three Questions Schools With International Programs Should Be Asking Now

Vol. 1 No. 2

While at many schools workloads and responsibilities slow during the summer months, that wasn't the case for those preparing for the enrollment of international students. Nor is it so for the international students and families busily preparing for travel and entry to the United States. Here are three important questions your school should have the answers to as you start a new school year.

Do you have the correct staff assigned as PDSO and DSOs as required by SEVP?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that certifies schools for acceptance of non-immigrant students (international students). It mandates in the Form I-17 Petition the assignment of adequate staff and resources to meet the program’s reporting requirements.

The selection and assignment of duties for the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) and Designated School Officials (DSOs) should be thoughtful and strategic. SEVP allows for the assignment of one PDSO and up to ten DSOs per campus. Staff members need to be trained in these roles as well as afforded the time to complete the required reporting in both a timely and accurate manner. Compliance in reporting is key to remaining SEVP certified.

Who is currently making these required updates to the Form I-17 for your school?

Since we are in a new employment year and key positions may have shifted or have completely new hires involved, you need to know if your school’s Form I-17 has been correctly updated in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

The system allows 21 days to make the updates to the Form I-17 in the event there is a new School Headand new or reassigned PDSO/DSOs. As a reminder, all PDSO and DSOs should be properly trained and logging into their SEVIS assigned portal independently and solely. All PDSO and DSOs must be employees of the school and be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident—not international student placement officer or broker!

Proof of citizenship and or permanent residency can be provided with a U.S. passport and or U.S. permanent residency card. A driver’s license is no longer acceptable.

Does your school know when and where your international students arrive in the United States?

Students entering on a non-immigrant Visa, F-1 or M-1, which applies to most international secondary school students, are allowed to enter the U.S. only 30 days prior to the start of your school program. The program start date is entered on the student’s Form I-20 by your school-designated official.

SEVIS tracks and monitors the students entering the United States and those SEVP certified schools accepting students. You will need to verify your students' arrival to your school through the registration process required. Help your students understand the rules and regulations that govern so they can successfully maintain status with the Visa issued.

To recap briefly, if your school has enrolled international students for year ahead the areas of concern to have addressed prior to the start of a new school year are appropriate and adequate PDSO/DSO staffing, Form I-17 updates on new staff or staffing changes, and knowing when and where your international students arrive to the U.S. These concerns are primary and seem basic to successfully running a dynamic international program within a school, if you should need further clarification or assistance in any of these matters the SEVIS Help Hub is available.

If you have concerns about your school’s international student program, please do not hesitate to call on us. As a part of our advisory services, we have in-house consultants to help your school navigate the SEVP/SEVIS reporting, rules, and regulations.

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