We have prepared this page to help you understand the kinds of information that all colleges and universities in the U.S. must maintain on international students and how this information is shared with the government in a manner prescribed by law. We hope you find this explanation helpful.
What is SEVIS?
SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to exchange data related to the immigration status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 or J-1 student's academic career in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also have access to SEVIS and input data at the time of the visa application. Port of entry information is also updated into SEVIS as you enter, exit, and re-enter the U.S. Every semester you are a student, the university is required to register you to confirm that you are still a student at WU.
How does SEVIS work?
- After Willamette University admits an international student, a SEVIS is created and the USCIS approves the University's request to issue an I-20 or DS-2019 immigration form. The University sends the SEVIS immigration form to the student.
- Students use their I-20 or DS-2019 immigration form to pay the SEVIS fee and to apply for a visa.
- The student visits the U.S. consulate abroad and the consulate confirms through SEVIS that the I-20 or DS-2019 the student is carrying is a valid document. If everything is in order, the consulate issues the visa.
- The student arrives at a U.S. port of entry with their I-20 or DS-2019 form, visa, and passport and seeks entry to the U.S. A port-of-entry officer at the airport reports to SEVIS the student's entry into the U.S.
- When the student arrives on campus, he/she reports to the Office of International Education (OIE), and the school confirms through SEVIS the student's enrollment. The University continues to provide regular electronic reports to USCIS throughout the student's academic career. Students are required to submit a form every semester to the OIE for this process.
- Finally, SEVIS records the student's final departure from the United States.
What data does SEVIS collect?
WU 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 or DS-2019.
- Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction.
- Whether the student drops below a full course of study without prior authorization from the DSO. Immigration regulations refer to international student advisers as "designated school officials" or DSOs. OIE staff are the Designated School Officials (DSOs) at Willamette University who will help you once you come to campus and until you graduate.
- 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 DSO in the OIE, attending a school other than the one a student is authorized to attend, failure to apply for a timely transfer or 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 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 DSO, that "event" would be reported via SEVIS and the student would be out of status. The student may apply to USCIS for reinstatement if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond their control. Reinstatement is intended to be a rare benefit for exceptional cases. The student may not apply for reinstatement under any circumstances if they are out of status longer than five months. Reinstatement decisions may not be appealed.
How will WU help students comply with the immigration laws?
The University is committed to assist students in ways that prevent status violations from ever occurring, but YOUR immigration status is YOUR responsibility.
- F-1 and J-1 students new to the WU must physically check in with the Office of International Education (OIE) at the REQUIRED orientation given fall or spring semester. We will review the student's visa documents and confirm to SEVIS that the student has arrived on campus.
- International students should not drop below a full course of study after the add/drop period each semester without prior authorization from OIE staff.
- Students should update address changes (not WU box #, but physical address of residence hall or apartment) within 10 days by emailing the new address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Full-time" means 3 credits per semester for undergraduates, 9 credits for Atkinson graduate students, and 10 credits for Law graduate students. Acceptable reasons for reduced credit load include:
- Students who experience academic difficulties (for example, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods) may take a reduced credit load if they receive authorization from OIE staff PRIOR to dropping below full time.
- Students who have a medical problem can reduce their credit load or take the semester off. The approval process must be completed with OIE staff BEFORE any classes are dropped.
Remember, only OIE staff has the authority to authorize a reduced credit load!
What happens if WU fails to comply with the SEVIS regulations?
The Department of Homeland Security via SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program) 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.
Are there other resources about SEVIS?
This website is very helpful. If you have specific questions about your visa, call 375-5493, or visit us in the Global Learning Center (corner of Baxter and Westwood Halls), Monday through Friday between 8:30 and 4:30, or send us an email.