In mid-December, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) added 16 additional field representatives to its staff to serve as liaisons between the nearly 9,000 U.S. schools that enroll international students. SEVP-certified schools can now expect greater monitoring from the government.
SEVP, a program housed within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), certifies schools to enroll international students and oversees those students and the schools they attend for compliance with U.S. laws. Specifically, SEVP field representatives serve as school resources on SEVP certification and recertification, including educating school officials on the rules, regulations, and federal laws governing foreign students. Field reps also are involved in improving the data integrity of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the Web-based system that contains information on international students and exchange visitors in the U.S. The system is also used to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws. Field representatives are supposed to meet twice a year with each SEVP-certified school with active international students. (If a school is SEVP-certified, but does not have any current international students, the field representative will reach out to that school via an annual visit, phone call, or e-mail.)
SEVP monitors approximately one million international students (F and M visa holders) and their dependents. The Department of State monitors exchange visitors (J visa holders) and their dependents, and oversees exchange visitor programs. Both use the SEVIS database. The information in SEVIS is shared with CBP and USCIS to ensure that only legitimate international students and exchange visitors gain entry into the United States. HSI reviews SEVIS records for potential violations and refers cases with possible national security or public safety concerns to its field offices for further investigation.