Fiscal Year 2009 promises to be an exciting year for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and for the schools and students SEVP supports. SEVP will be taking on new initiatives as well as refining its current programs.
One new initiative is the SEVP Response Center (SRC). The SRC will answer calls from schools, students and the general public. It will assist callers with general questions pertaining to SEVP. Three highly trained staff members will be available to answer calls Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). The SRC will provide more efficient and robust customer service and provide schools with a more direct means of communication with SEVP. The SRC staff members will be able to handle many frequently asked questions concerning current regulations and procedures. As always, SEVIS.Source, the SEVIS Help Desk and the SEVIS Toolbox will continue to be available for related inquiries. The SRC will begin answering calls on January 26, 2009.
In keeping with the tradition of excellent customer service, SEVP will continue to develop new regulations to aid schools and students in achieving their goals. SEVP is in the process of drafting three major regulatory updates to be published in 2009. The first, a significant rewrite of 8 CFR 214.2, 8 CFR 214.3, and 8 CFR 214.4, will incorporate and refine policies and procedures that have evolved since the last recertification update and since the inception of SEVP. The rewrite also removes obsolete language and incorporates transitional language to support that transition to SEVIS II.
The second rule addresses flight schools that are currently certified by both SEVP and the Department of State (DoS). This rule gives schools the ability to offer extended flight education programs for non-immigrants. In June 2008, DoS chose to eliminate its designation of eight flight training programs in June 2010, following an internal review which concluded that the programs no longer met DoS public diplomacy criteria, a core requirement for exchange visitor programs. Through the new rule, SEVP will help ensure that the government’s reorganization efforts do not have a negative impact on the flight schools or their students.
The third rule is a refinement of F-1 optional practical training (OPT) regulations. The intent of this rule is to refine certain policies and procedures that were introduced by the 2008 OPT rule and address other issues that were not covered in the 2008 rule. The public comments received in response to the 2008 rule will be addressed and incorporated into the new rule.
SEVP remains committed to providing excellent and robust customer service as noted by the addition of the SRC as well as updating its current regulations, policies and procedures. We will continue to listen to our stakeholders and do everything we can to help them achieve their goals.
Excellence in customer service is paramount to SEVP’s success.
Lou Farrell, Director
SEVP Policy is planning the following three regulations for FY 2009:
- Flight: This rule is intended to accommodate the transfer of the J flight programs from the Department of State (DOS) to DHS and to modify the M regulation to allow SEVP certification for qualified FAA part 61 flight training providers;
- Revision of 8 CFR 214.3: This rule is intended to accomplish the following:
- Accommodate technical and procedural modifications that have been identified during the past four years of operation;
- Provide clarification in areas that have become problematic;
- Implement procedural changes that have been requested by schools which would assist them in the management of the program; and
- Identify and incorporate new data elements identified for SEVIS II.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) II: This rule is intended to accomplish the following:
- Establish a standard process for adding/removing programs from the STEM Designated Degree Program list. This will allow for changes to the list outside of the rulemaking process;
- Clarify the intent of the Interim Final Rule, and some specific troublesome areas such as periods of authorized unemployment, violations of status during OPT, and the distinction between pre-completion and post-completion OPT.
SEVIS II development is progressing well. However, due to the heavy school workloads in October, SEVP is seeking approval for a schedule change that would allow a two-step implementation of SEVIS II. Step One would still “go live” in October 2009, and would focus on the active and initial F, M, and J nonimmigrants currently in SEVIS; and the current school and program sponsors. Particularly, it would involve:
- Creating individual accounts so we can implement one person, one record for:
- Current active and initial F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1 and J-3 nonimmigrants
- Current P/DSOs and RO/AROs
- Updating I-17 information with more detail on curriculums and to ensure data elements meet the new validation requirements.
Until we receive approval for the schedule change, we will be able to share only limited information. The next quarterly newsletter will contain a great deal more information.
MSB will be welcoming the new Branch Chief, Jose Flores, on March 1, 2009. Mr. Flores is a former Instructor from ICE Leadership Development Center located in Dallas, Texas. MSB will soon be initiating an I-515A Compliance Review program in which the major areas of form issuances will be thoroughly analyzed. This branch will also identify more efficient ways to educate the student and exchange visitor community on the importance of maintaining status and keeping DSOs and ROs aware of travel prior to departure from or arrival to the United States.
SCB has been actively advising school officials at conferences and in broadcast messages to update their I-17 petitions. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of I-17 petitions received on a monthly basis. Below are SEVP’s I-17 receipt statistics since March of 2008:
On Monday, January 26, 2009, the SEVP Response Center (SRC) began operation. The SRC is just one of SEVP’s ongoing efforts to expand service to our many stakeholders. The center is staffed by three highly trained SEVP employees knowledgeable on a variety of issues including, but not limited to:
- Initial Certification
- I-17 Updates
These staff members are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST to answer most of your questions on the spot. Questions or issues requiring research will be answered as expeditiously as possible.
The dedicated number for the SRC is 703-603-3400. A toll-free number for the SRC is planned and will be available as soon as possible.
We are confident that you will find the SRC an effective tool for handling stakeholder queries, and we look forward to receiving your feedback regarding this new service.
SEVIS By The Numbers
Total Active Students and
Total Dependents of Students and