Legal Issues

Immigration Status Is Your Responsibility!

It is your responsibility to know and follow the laws and regulations under which you may study or stay in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. If you do not follow these requirements, you could find yourself in serious difficulty with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even to the point of having to abandon your studies and leave the U.S.. If you have any questions about visa matters, call or come personally to the Admissions Office at Antioch University New England, 40 Avon St. in Keene, telephone number: 603-357-6265, or email admissions.ane@antioch.edu . Friends, fellow students, faculty advisors and others may be well intentioned in their advising, but they are usually not dependable sources of information on such specialized regulatory matters which are crucial to your stay in the U.S.

SEVIS

What international students should know about the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and agencies of the U.S. government to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 student’s academic career in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also have access to SEVIS.

Is SEVIS new?

Yes and no. The requirement that schools provide the federal government with information about each student’s status is not new. Most of the information reported to SEVIS has been required by the U.S. Government for many years. But the existing paper-based system precluded widespread coordination amongst schools and governmental agencies. In 1996, Congress passed legislation directing the INS to move to an electronic data collection system. This program would come to be known as SEVIS-the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Technical challenges and lack of funding delayed the program for several years. However, in October 2001, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act that authorized additional funding and required nationwide compliance by January 30, 2003.

How does SEVIS work?

After Antioch University New England admits an international student, SEVIS is notified and approves the University’s request to issue an I-20. The University sends the new bar-coded I-20 form to the student. The student visits the U.S. consulate abroad, and the consulate confirms through SEVIS that the I-20 the student is carrying is a valid document. If everything is in order, the consulate issues the visa. An Immigration officer at the port of entry reports to SEVIS the student’s entry into the U.S. When the student arrives on campus, he/she reports to the Admissions Office, and the school confirms through SEVIS the student’s enrollment. The University continues to provide regular electronic reports to SEVIS throughout the student’s academic career. Finally, SEVIS records the student’s departure from the United States.

What data does SEVIS collect?
Antioch University New England must report:

  • Whether the student has enrolled at the school, or failed to enroll
  • A change of the student or dependent’s legal name or address
  • Any student who graduates prior to the end date listed on the I-20
  • Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction
  • Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior authorization from the staff
  • Termination date and reason for termination
  • Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extensions, school transfers, changes in level of study, employment authorizations, and reinstatement
  • Any student who fails to maintain status or complete his or her program

What does “fail to maintain status” mean?

Some examples of failure to maintain status include dropping from full-time to part-time enrollment without prior approval from the Admissions Office, attending a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend, failure to apply for a timely transfer or I-20 extension or change in level of study, unauthorized employment, and failure to report a change of address.

What are the consequences if a student fails to maintain status?

The student’s record will be updated with SEVIS every semester. Students who fail to maintain status lose the privileges of their student visa and become subject to deportation. Specific consequences may include denial of re-entry to the U.S., inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status, denial of requests for F-1 Practical Training, denial of requests to change visa status, and possible denial of all future visa applications.

Can a student who is “out of status” regain legal status?
If a student drops below a full course of study without prior approval from the staff, that “event” would be reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via SEVIS, and he or she would be out of status. The student may apply to BCIS (the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services – one of the DHS departments) for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if he or she is out of status longer than five months. If BCIS does not reinstate the student, he or she may not appeal that decision. “Full-time&srdquo; means 8 credits per semester. Acceptable reasons for reduced credit load (which must be approved ahead of time) include:

  • Students who experience academic difficulties (for example, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods) may take a reduced credit load during their first term
  • Graduate students who have completed required coursework may register for thesis or dissertation credit
  • Students in their final term of study need only the credits required to complete the degree
  • Students who have a medical problem can reduce their credit load or take a semester/quarter off for a total of one year
  • Students whose academic course flow is considered full time, but which may actually fall below 8 credits

Please note: all reduced course loads must be approved in advance by the DHS through the Admissions Office.

What happens if the University fails to comply with the SEVIS regulations?
The U.S. government is required to audit the University’s compliance with these new requirements every two years. Failure to comply with the federal regulations could result in the loss of the University’s ability to accept international students.

What should students do to prepare for SEVIS?
Changes in immigration or visa procedures sometimes happen quickly. Please ask the staff in Admissions if you have questions.