Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Regulations F-1 Students



Summary of Interim Final Rule, published December 11, 2002

(Please note: The SEVIS program is now the responsibility of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). For more information, please visit http://www.ice.gov/sevis).

Impact for students

Commencing January 30, 2003, all schools and colleges approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept international students in F-1 status, must use the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has been approved, and we are mandated to use SEVIS.

What does this mean for me, the student?

Basically, for you, nothing has changed. You must accept responsibility for your status. If you remain in full-time status, and do not violate your status by becoming out-of-status, or working on- or off-campus without approval from the Designated School Official (DSO), you will be fine. If you violate your status and become out-of-status, you will require reinstatement and that is likely to be more difficult than previously.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is a web-based, integrated database used by the U.S. government to record and track the status of every student and exchange visitor and their dependent spouse and children.

How do I stay in status?

Take a full course load of credits until you cannot take a full load in your final semester. Be certified as full-time in the final semester by visiting the DSO in the Office of International Students and Faculty (OIS&F) with the correct documents from your program advisor. Your advisor will be asked to verify the number of credits being taken in the final semester.

Where can I access the F-1 regulations?

At www.uscis.gov.

When do all student records need to be entered into SEVIS?

By August 1, 2003. USCIS has mandated in its final rule, December 11, 2002, that all continuing students, as well as newly-entering students, must be entered into the SEVIS database.

What if I am taking a course and doing poorly and know that a low grade will bring down my GPA, can I drop this course?

Do not drop any course so that you will fall below a full-course load (12 credits at NJIT) until you have met with a DSO. See USCIS regulations at www.uscis.gov for reasons to drop a course and fall below a full course load.

What about work off-campus; I heard that I can work for a longer period than previously. Is this true?

All off-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), must be approved. The new SEVIS regulation allows 12 months of full-time CPT after one full academic year (two semesters) in full-time status. OPT after one full academic year of full-time status allows 12 months of full-time training for each level of higher education, i.e., 12 months at the bachelor’s, 12 months at the master’s, and 12 months at the doctoral level. You cannot have one year of OPT for each Master’s degree taken.

Is the USCIS doing away with the 1-20 Form?

No. The I-20 Form will be issued as before. After January 30, 2003, if you are an existing NJIT student and have a change in an USCIS “Reportable Event,” for example, you decide to change your major, the OIS&F through the DSO will issue you a new SEVIS I-20. All your student information and information about dependents (if any) will be entered into SEVIS, and from this point onwards, all changes in your reportable events, for example, an address change, will be reported to the USCIS through SEVIS.

What events are reportable?

There are 19 in all; some are entered before the student or exchange visitor is granted a visa to apply to enter the U.S., and some events are reported after the F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant is in the U.S. These reportable events are as follows:

Name: family and given

School attending in the U.S.
Date of birth Address in foreign country
Country of nationality Address in U.S.
Country of citizenship Program of study
Country of birth Start date
Passport number Completion date (which may be earlier than completion date on I-20)
Visa number Work on-campus
Port of Entry (POE) Work off-campus in CPT
Date of entering the U.S. Criminal convictions leading to dismissal from school


What if I do not make any change in my “reportable events?”

Nothing will happen. You can travel out of the U.S. and return through a POE into the U.S. with a correctly-endorsed I-20. After August 1, 2003, however, this will cease, and in order to travel and re-enter, you must be issued with a new, SEVIS-generated I-20.

When will these be reportable to USCIS?

At different times, as the events occur. However, address changes must be reported by you to USCIS within 10 days of the change (NJIT has 21 days to do so). NJIT is required to report your status to the USCIS every semester. This will be done 30 days after the start of the semester. It will be done electronically, and you will have no responsibility. But, you do have a big responsibility to STAY IN FULL-TIME STATUS.

Do I have a need to worry about my status as an F-1, international student?

Not if you take the required credits each semester until you complete your program, maintain your I-20, and keep your passport up-to-date.

When do I apply for OPT?

Up to 90 days before completion of studies. The Vermont Service Center will receive your application on the I-765 Form. The application MUST reach the Vermont Service Center before the end date of the semester. OPT must be completed 14 months after completion of studies. USCIS will not accept an application for OPT after the completion of studies date.

Transferring Schools

The new SEVIS regulations make school transfer more rigid. You must name the school to which you intend to transfer, when discussing transfer with your current school. Your current school’s DSO will set a “release ("transfer out") date” in your SEVIS record. This date is the date when your SEVIS record will be transferred to the transfer school, and, only on that date (or later), will the receiving DSO have access to your record and be able to generate and issue an I-20.