The SEVP certification program is used by foreign students who wish to enter America to start a course in the study program at the institution. The students need to use Form I-20, which is issued by a certified SEVP institution. Institutions, with SEVP certification, generally allow foreign students to enroll through an F or M student visa.
Institutions need to be certified to admit:
Only F students (i.e., academic students)
Only M students (i.e., vocational students)
Both F and M students if the school has both academic and vocational courses of study
The governing regulations for school certification are found in 8 CFR 214.3(a)(2).
The types of institutions that are eligible to petition for SEVP certification include:
“Colleges or universities (i.e., institutions of higher learning that award recognized bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate or professional degrees)
Community colleges or junior colleges (i.e., institutions providing instruction in liberal arts or in the professions and awards recognized associate degrees)
Language training, if accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body
Instruction in liberal arts or fine arts
Instruction in the professions
Instruction or training in more than one of these disciplines”
Other schools, in the governing regulations. are eligible for M student admission.
Which schools are not eligible for SEVP certification:
The governing regulations provide that the following programs/schools cannot obtain SEVP certification:
Preschool or daycare
Public elementary or middle school (grades kindergarten–eight)
School whose programs are primarily distanced or online and do not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to the completion of the class (per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v))
Flight schools that are not Part 141 or Part 142 certified by the Federal Aviation Administration”
What certification responsibilities must schools meet to obtain SEVP certification?
Schools are required to make” a legally binding commitment to comply with applicable federal laws, regulations, and DHS requirements.” The choice to apply for SEVP certification requires:
A financial commitment
A strong personal commitment
The duty to comply with strict record and reporting keeping requirements
Some of the reporting obligations include:
Updating the Form I-17 when material changes occur (e.g., a change of mailing address, change of leadership, etc.).
“Regular registration of student records in SEVIS and report changes in student information (e.g., student address and employment information, etc.).”
Schools with SEVP certification may be subject to a random on-site review. They must also apply for recertification every two years. Schools seeking SEVP must complete Form I-17 and “upload the required evidence for filing online using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), as well as pay all required fees at pay.gov. There are many other Form I-17 requirements that must be met.