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

January 17, 2014 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)

On January 17, 2014, NAFSA commented on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program's (SEVP) proposed rulemaking published at 78 Fed. Reg. 69778 (November 21, 2013) concerning adjustments to limitations on Designated School Official assignment and allowing part-time study by F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrants. Comments were due by January 21, 2014. View the PDF file to read NAFSA's comments.

The proposed rule, if finalized as published, would:

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

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.

In addition to applauding the Department of Homeland Security's efforts on these two proposals, NAFSA also suggested that SEVP:

  • Process DSO updates quickly and in a streamlined manner;
  • Publish the criteria on which SEVP's adjudications of DSOs nominated by schools will be based;
  • Articulate to schools the basis for any denials of a DSO nomination or other requested change;
  • Establish a reconsideration process that may be pursued by schools that consider a denial to be in error;
  • Consider allowing an applicant for change of status from F-2 to F-1 to begin a full course of study as soon as the application is properly filed, and to allow F-2 to F-1 applicants who are not enrolled in a full course of study at the time their change of status application is granted, to begin their full course of study in the next available term or session.

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 and specifies an effective date.