According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DHS delegated the school certification process to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE, in turn, delegated the responsibility to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
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)
- Academic high schools (grades nine–12)
- Private elementary schools (grades kindergarten–eight)
- Institutions providing:
- 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.