SEVP Guidance On F-1 Transfers From TVU

February 07, 2011 By: SEVP Download pdf

On February 7, 2011, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) broadcast a message to SEVIS users regarding transfer of students who had attended Tri-Valley University (TVU).

The table below explores various factors that may not be immediately evident in the text of the SEVP broadcast message. The left column contains the text of the SEVP guidance, and the right column contains NAFSA annotations. This resource is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If legal advice is needed, please consult an experienced immigration attorney.

In addition, on February 8, 2011, SEVP also updated its Web site (www.ice.gov/sevis) with a message directed to former TVU students. See the NAFSA note below.


Text of SEVP Guidance 1101-02 NAFSA notes
To: All SEVIS Users
Date: February 7, 2011
Re: Consideration of Former F-1 Students from Tri-Valley University for Enrollment
Number: 1101-02
This message was sent on February 7, 2011 as a broadcast to all SEVIS users, in response to questions from the field about how to respond to requests from former Tri-Valley University students for assistance in transferring to a new institution.
On January 18, 2011, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) either cancelled or terminated all initial, active and transfer-in student records associated with Tri-Valley University (TVU) in Pleasanton, California.

Students enrolled at TVU and those who entered the United States but have not enrolled at TVU are unable to maintain F-1 status.
SEVP clarifies that all SEVIS records under the control of Tri-Valley University as of January 18, 2011, were either cancelled or terminated on that day.

The broadcast message also states that TVU students whose SEVIS records have been cancelled or terminated "are unable to maintain F-1 status." This choice of words is interesting, in that it appears to distinguish between SEVIS status and immigration status. It falls short of saying that all such students "are now in violation of their F-1 status," and thus leaves open the possibility that it may be possible to correct the student's SEVIS status if DHS determines that steps taken subsequent to the record termination merit a finding that immigration status can be maintained. However, please see the notes regarding legal advice and representation, below.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SCHOOL OFFICIALS

If a former TVU student applies for acceptance at a school, consider the following while following normal admissions procedures:
In this "DSO responsibilities" section, SEVP implies that a school that is considering admitting a former TVU student should initially review the request for admission under its normal admissions procedures, as it would do with any F-1 transfer student.

NAFSA has inquired with SEVP on the question of how soon a former TVU student would have to begin studies at the transfer-in school, and the applicability of the 8 CFR 214.2(f)(8)(i) 5-month transfer rule in this situation. NAFSA will update this advisory with information it receives from SEVP.
1. School officials must obtain an enrollment application and all subsidiary documents typically requested in order to make an admissions decision, including an assessment of the student's finances, and they must maintain these documents in the F-1 student's academic record. Although the guidance contains no legal citation, this first "procedure" appears to describe the basic I-20 eligibility determination factors that are set forth at 8 CFR 214.3(k), and the standard school recordkeeping requirements, which are set forth at 8 CFR 214.3(g). These are the same requirements that apply to a standard school transfer.
2. If a student gains admission, a designated school official should contact the SEVP Help Desk at 800-892-4829 or SEVIShelpdesk@hp.com to manage the student record. Do not initiate a new SEVIS record for the student. SEVP specifically states that a transfer-in school should not initiate a new SEVIS record for the student, but rather work through the SEVIS Help Desk to transfer the record. SEVP itself is the only party that can transfer a SEVIS record in the absence of an active DSO at the transfer-out school.

Here's where it gets a bit complicated. Given the situation, the immigration status of each student will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by SEVP before it decides what action it will take on the SEVIS record. This will likely involve an immigration status determination that could result in the following outcomes:
  • SEVP determines that the student is eligible to remain in the United States, and will act to update the student's SEVIS status and to transfer the student's SEVIS record from TVU to the transfer-in school, whereby the normal transfer-in procedures (or possibly the normal reinstatement procedures if SEVP transfers the student's record in terminated status) would follow.
  • SEVP determines that the student is not eligible to remain in the United States, and will inform the student that he or she must depart.  This might include a grant of "administrative voluntary departure" – a period of 30-120 days for the student to leave in lieu of formal removal proceedings starting.
  • If SEVP determines that the student is not eligible to remain in the United States, DHS could also decide to initiate formal removal proceedings, by issuing a "Notice To Appear" (NTA, the document that begins removal procedures with the Immigration Courts). They have already done so in some cases.  Even if a removal proceeding is initiated against a student, the student's lawyer can try to advocate with the ICE local office to terminate the removal proceeding in order for reinstatement to proceed, or the immigration judge might grant voluntary departure in specific cases.

Providing legal advice and representation is beyond the scope of a DSO's duties. Since students may need legal advice or representation, they should be advised to consult an experienced immigration lawyer familiar with removal defense in order to inform their decision on how to proceed in their own situation. All representation of students who may have already received a NTA should likewise be done only by an experienced attorney or pro bono legal services organizations (lists of local pro bono legal services organization are available from each local immigration court's Web site at www.justice.gov/eoir).



UPDATE: On February 8, 2011, the day after their broadcast message to SEVIS users, SEVP updated its Web site (www.ice.gov/sevis) with the following message directed to former TVU students themselves. Please note that in contrast to SEVP's message to DSOs, the message on the SEVP Web site instructs students to call the SEVP Response Center (SRC) rather than the SEVIS Help Desk. Students with legal representation may consider having their attorney contact the SRC on their behalf.
Attention Former Tri-Valley University Students

If you were formerly enrolled as an F-1 student at TVU and have been terminated in SEVIS, please note the following.

SEVP terminated the records of all F-1 students enrolled at TVU as of January 18, 2011. You should call SEVP Response Center (SRC) at 703-603-3400. This number will be staffed from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (EST), seven days a week. At other times you may leave a telephone number at which SEVP will return your call the next day.

Please be prepared to provide the follow information to the SEVP staff when you call:

  • First and last name
  • SEVIS ID#
  • Address
  • Telephone number where you can be reached
  • E-mail address
  • Dates of attendance at TVU
  • Level and Major of study at TVU
When you call, SEVP will provide you with your options including the option to depart from the United States without an otherwise possibly applicable bar to re-admission in the future.

3. Employment authorization for F-1 students at TVU terminated January 19, 2011. This is simply confirmation that when a student's SEVIS record is terminated, all work authorization stemming from the SEVIS record that has been cancelled or terminated is also terminated.