DHS Proposed Rule To Adjust Limitation On Number Of DSOs And Permit Part-Time Study For F-2 and M-2 Dependents

November 21, 2013 Download pdf

 
Update: A final rule effective May 29, 2015 was published on April 29, 2015. Once effective, the rule will:
  • Remove the 10-DSO limit, to allow F and M schools to "nominate as many DSOs in addition to PDSOs as they determine necessary to adequately provide recommendations to F and/or M students enrolled at the school regarding maintenance of nonimmigrant status and to support timely and complete recordkeeping and reporting to DHS..." The process of nominating DSOs through an I-17 update will not change.
  • Change some of the restrictions on F-2 and M-2 study by permitting F-2 and M-2 spouses and children to enroll in less than a full course of study (i.e., part-time) at an SEVP-certified school in any course of study described in paragraphs 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) through (D) or (m)(9)(i) through (iv).

Read the final rule: 80 FR 23680 (April 29, 2015)

In a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 21, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is proposing changes to the F-1 and M-1 school regulations that would:

  1. Eliminate the current limit of 10 DSOs per campus in favor of a more flexible approach.
  2. Allow F-2 and M-2 dependents of F-1 or M-1 students to study at a SEVP-certified school as long as it is less than a full course of study.

Click the PDF link above to read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register.

The proposed changes stem from recommendations put forth by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC), and build on a series of reforms designed to further the commitment to attracting international students while maintaining national security standards. NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene Johnson serves as co-chair of the HSAAC International Student subcommittee, which made the recommendations. NAFSA had also recommended allowing F-2 study in its 2011 regulatory review recommendations to DHS.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, from November 21, 2013 until January 21, 2014. NAFSA will be developing a comment letter, and also encourages schools and the public to submit comments on the proposed rule through www.regulations.gov during the open comment period.

Remember that as a proposed rule, nothing will become final or effective until DHS receives and analyzes public comment, returns the rule to OMB for additional review, and then publishes the rule again in the Federal Register as a final or interim final rule.

Proposal to Remove the 10-DSO Limit

The proposed rule, if finalized as proposed, would eliminate the current regulation's limit of 10 DSOs per campus. All other conditions for DSO eligibility, as well as SEVP's authority to not approve or to remove a DSO nominated by a school, would remain unchanged.

Current Rule 8 CFR 214.3(l)(1)(iii) Proposed Rule

(iii) Each school may have up to 10 designated officials at any one time, including the PDSO. In a multi-campus school, each campus may have up to 10 designated officials at any one time including a required PDSO. In a private elementary or public or private secondary school system, however, the entire school system is limited to 10 designated officials at any one time including the PDSO.

(iii) School officials may nominate as many DSOs in addition to PDSOs as they determine necessary to adequately provide recommendations to F and/or M students enrolled at the school regarding maintenance of nonimmigrant status and to support timely and complete recordkeeping and reporting to DHS, as required by this section. School officials must not permit a DSO or PDSO nominee access to SEVIS until DHS approves the nomination.

Proposal to Allow F-2 and M-2 Part-time Study

Under the proposed rule, if finalized as proposed:

  • F-2 and M-2 spouses and children would be allowed to enroll in less than a "full course of study" at an SEVP-certified school without violating their status, even if that part-time study eventually leads to a degree or certificate. The rules allowing avocational and recreational enrollment and K-12 study would remain unchanged.
  • DSOs at the school that controls the F-2 or M-2's SEVIS record would continue to be responsible for maintaining in SEVIS the same F-2 and M-2 personal information they are required to under the current rule, but would not be responsible for maintaining information regarding the F-2 or M-2's part-time enrollment.
  • F-2 or M-2 dependents would still be prohibited from engaging in employment, as they are under the current rule.
  • The penalties for pursuing a full course of study outside the scope of the expanded rule would still constitute a violation of status.
Current Rule 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(ii) Proposed Rule

(ii) Study.

(A) The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full time study, and the F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). The F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.

(B) An F-2 spouse or F-2 child desiring to engage in full time study, other than that allowed for a child in paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(A) of this section, must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status. An F-2 spouse or child who was enrolled on a full time basis prior to January 1, 2003, will be allowed to continue study but must file for a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status on or before March 11, 2003.

(C) An F-2 spouse or F-2 child violates his or her nonimmigrant status by engaging in full time study except as provided in paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(A) or (B) of this section.

 

(ii) Study.

(A) F-2 post-secondary/vocational study.

(1) Authorized Study at SEVP-Certified Schools. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child may enroll in less than a full course of study, as defined in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(D) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i)-(iv), in any course of study described in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A)-(D) or 214.2(m)(9)(i)-(iv) at an SEVP-certified school. Notwithstanding 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(i), study at an undergraduate college or university or at a community college or junior college is not a full course of study solely because the F-2 nonimmigrant is engaging in a lesser course load to complete a course of study during the current term. An F-2 spouse or F-2 child enrolled in less than a full course of study is not eligible to engage in employment pursuant to paragraphs (9) and (10) of this subsection.

(2) Full Course of Study. Subject to paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(B) and (18), an F-2 spouse and child may engage in a full course of study only by applying for and obtaining a change of status to F-1, M-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status, as appropriate, before beginning a full course of study. However, an F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature, up to and including on a full-time basis.

(B) F-2 elementary or secondary study. An F-2 child may engage in full-time study, including any full course of study, in any elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

(C) An F-2 spouse and child violates his or her nonimmigrant status by enrolling in any study except as provided in paragraph (f)(15)(ii)(A)(2) or (B) of this section.

 

Parallel language is being proposed for M-2 dependents at 8 CFR 214.2(m)(17)(i)(ii).