OPT extension questions

SEVIS Q&A with SEVP- Questions with Answers Transcripted from the
Session Recordings
NAFSA Annual Conference
May 28, 2008
OPT extension questions
1. What will students with an automatic extension of employment authorization and/or status
(under either the cap gap provisions or 180 day period while waiting for adjudication of a
STEM EAD) be able to show other government agencies in terms of documenting eligibility
for travel, driver’s licenses, I-9 completion, etc.?
a. SEVP Response (Track 10, 3:00): There is an FAQ available on the USCIS Web site
now that has these answers in it now, so you don’t have to memorize them. A student
who’s going for a 17-month extension can show their expired EAD card and a form I20 that shows that they have been recommended for the STEM extension, and on the
I-20, it’s going to show that they are applying for a STEM extension, and that STEM
extension is going to be for work starting the day after the EAD expired. So they’ll
be able to use this combination of documents to fulfill the requirements for the I-9.
And the answer in the [USCIS] FAQs [II] goes into what is List A, B, and C so it’s a
very complete answer. Rather than me reading it out and you all writing it down, I
think it’s easier for you to look at the FAQs.
i. NAFSA note: Read the USCIS FAQs II on the NAFSA Web site.
b. [Re: DMV issues] One of the things that we are doing within SEVP is we’re pulling
together a white paper to talk about the issues with drivers’ licenses and sending that
up through DHS because we’d like to get some outreach at the DHS-level to the
DMVs on student issues because it’s a problem we hear consistently. It’s not
something we can solve just by ourselves within SEVP. But we are very aware that it
causes you problems, and when we’re putting documentation together, when we’re
looking at some of what we’re doing for SEVIS II, we’re trying very hard to keep in
mind how important it is to be able to give DMVs information that includes grace
periods and periods of OPT. So I can’t promise you that we have an answer right
now, but we’re really aware of the problem and doing the best we can to help all y’all
work towards a solution.
2. How will students provide verification of employment authorization to current/prospective
employers when: (1) they "timely filed" an I-765 for an OPT STEM Extension, (2) have yet
to receive a new EAD Card, and (3) possess an expired EAD from their current OPT period?
Will this information be available to employers through E-Verify?
a. SEVP Response (Track 10, 3:00): We don’t really have anything that’s written on the
I-20 for the STEM extension students. What we do have for the cap gap students is
we have written explicitly on page 3 the full time period which the student is allowed
to be there. I don’t know if we can do that on the I-20 for the STEM students. That’s
something we can look at, but I can’t promise that. We’re limited to how many
changes we can make and we have to prioritize them.
3. Several pieces of guidance (from SEVP and USCIS) have indicated varying dates by which a
student should apply for a STEM OPT extension. Could SEVP confirm whether a student
may apply for a STEM OPT extension anytime during the current period of post-completion
OPT or is limited to filing the I-765 in the 120 days before the current OPT expires as long as
USCIS receives the application by the day before the current OPT expires? Can SEVP also
confirm that the student may continue to work for 180 days after the expiration of the postcompletion OPT EAD while the EAD for the STEM extension is pending and an EAD has
not yet been issued by USCIS?
a. SEVP Response (Track 11, 1:50): Yes. The student has up to the last day of their
current OPT to file for the STEM extension. However, remember: being properly
filed means it’s at the Service Center. So I wouldn’t gamble and wait until the last
day, midnight the night before, and try to send it FedEx. So the student needs to plan
a little bit ahead of time, but if it’s there by the last day of their OPT, they’ve met the
filing deadline.
4. Is there a time limit on the earliest possible time they could apply?
a. SEVP Response (Track 11, 2:31): There is nothing in the regulation, but right now,
[USCIS] practice is they’ll take them up to 120 days in advance. My recommendation
would be that you do not file before that time. The problem is, as all of you know,
sometimes people file prematurely for OPT. Once you’ve gotten the OPT approved,
you have used that allowance. STEM extension is available one time in a lifetime. So
if you file 120 days in advance or more, and then the student decides that they do not
want to have that STEM extension, perhaps they get an H-1B instead, then that
student, if they come back and go to another degree program and want to have
STEM, they will have already used their STEM extension. So I would advise
students to be very careful when they’re filing far in advance to make sure they don’t
think their plans will change.
5. If the DSO receives "termination or departure" notification from the employer, how can a
DSO update SEVIS? Should the DSO contact the student to confirm, and then update the
Employer name to “none”?
a. SEVP Response (Track 5, ----): The employer, when the student leaves, has to report
to the DSO. In that case, what we’re asking is that you’ll update SEVIS and in the
employer name field, if you just put “employed [DATE] per [employer name].” We’ll
update our guidance with this information because this is not in the guidance yet, but
there is extensive guidance, so if you haven’t seen that on our web site, I think we’re
up to 30 pages now and I’m sure we’ll be hitting 50 soon. You are not required to
contact the students. The student has a requirement to contact you within 10 days.
The employer is to contact you within 48 hours. So the student has a little bit longer,
and it could be that the student in that 10 days will have found another job. So when
the student contacts you, you just record the student’s information.
b. NAFSA note: See PG for guidance on how to report.
6. Can SEVP confirm that F-2 dependents will continue to maintain status if the F-1 has
received a 17-month STEM OPT extension?
a. SEVP Response (Track 20, 1:30): Yes.
7. At what point is SEVIS expected to include a more robust means of recommending the
additional 17 months of OPT?
a. Will there be a change to batch functionality in that release that will allow for the
batching of employer information for students with the OPT STEM extension?
b. Will there be batch functionality available for the 17 month OPT recommendation,
and if so, when?
c. At what point is testing for that functionality expected to be available?
i. SEVP Response (Track 16, 1:40): Right now, we’re reviewing all of the new
things that were incorporate with the OPT. Like Ann mentioned before, it was
kind of a last-minute thing as far as incorporating all of the system
enhancements, so we try to incorporate a lot of them in with 5.8, and again,
we’re going to incorporate the post-completion grace period with the next
release of SEVIS which will be our 5.9 [NAFSA note: correction 5.10], and
then beyond that, we do plan to incorporate a lot of the OPT enhancements
with batch in the next release which will be in November. But I can’t
elaborate on exactly what that will include; whether that’s going to be the
alert, whether it’s just going to be simply putting the request in via batch.
We’re not sure exactly how much it’s going to take to do that.
8. Will the SEVIS records for those students who apply for the additional 17 month OPT period
remain in “active” status while the OPT application is pending with USCIS? Or will the
record auto-complete unless the DSO takes some action?
a. SEVP Response (Track 20, :50): They should remain active; the only thing that might
happen is if a student waits until the very last day; actually that shouldn’t be a
problem because we have 60 days of grace period, so I would say that this is unlikely
to be a problem. The only time it might be a problem is if for some reason, the
CLAIMS interface doesn’t work properly but that should be a rare problem. We will
be keeping them active.
9. What happens in SEVIS, as it relates to the 6-month reporting requirement, if the student’s
information is the same? Will there be a “confirmed” field or something else that indicates
that the student reported in and the information is still valid?
a. SEVP Response (Track 19, 2:15): Yes, it’s what we plan to do. Probably for that first
six months reporting, because of the timing, we won’t have it, but for subsequent
ones after that, it will just be a click “yes, they’ve confirmed.”
10. How should a DSO recommend OPT for those students who have completed all coursework
and have only a thesis or equivalent remaining [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(3)]? If a student
who meets those criteria completes his program on August 7, 2008 and would like to begin
full-time OPT on July 1, 2008, he previously would have applied for pre-completion OPT
continuing into post-completion OPT with one application and one fee. Now that there are
different codes for pre- and post- completion OPT, what is the appropriate procedure? How
can DSOs ensure that students in these pre-completion scenarios be eligible for the STEM
a. SEVP Response (Track 5, 1:10): There has to be distinct periods now of precompletion and post-completion OPT. For one thing, if you are on post-completion
OPT, unemployment counts. If you’re on pre-completion OPT, unemployment does
not count against you. So graduate students who only have their thesis or dissertation
remaining are given a choice, and [these] are the consequences of either choice:
i. If they have pre-completion OPT, the unemployment will not be counted; they
are allowed to work full-time only in this circumstance. Students who have
coursework remaining cannot work full-time during their course, but students
who have only their thesis or dissertation remaining will be allowed to work
full-time. They will not be able to apply for the STEM extension, because the
STEM extension is limited to people on post-completion OPT. They’re also
NOT eligible for the cap-gap extension. However, if they do not finish their
dissertation or thesis by the end of OPT, because it’s pre-completion, they will
be allowed to extend their program. One thing that you might recommend to a
student is that if they have 12 months of OPT, that they perhaps reserve 2-3
months of that for post-completion OPT, particularly if they have plans to
hopefully apply for a STEM extension or if they might be subject to the capgap.
ii. Now post-completion OPT, if they take this choice, they are also allowed to
do this as well. You can shorten their program end date and they can go on
post-completion OPT. Unemployment will count; [they will need to work at
least 20 hours per week]. They can also apply for the STEM extension. They
are eligible for the cap-gap extension, but if they do not finish their thesis by
the end of the OPT, they will not be able to extend their program.
11. Has DHS indicated the means by which E-Verify employers will be reporting the required
student status information to DSOs? If not, how will that information be communicated to EVerify employers? Is there any protocol for how such notification is to be made (i.e. in
writing, by fax, by e-mail, by phone)?
a. SEVP Response (Track 19, 2:50): The student is responsible for letting their
employer know how the school wants them to report. So if you have a particular way
that you want the employers to report to you, give that information to your students.
In absence of that, employers have been told to use the contact information on the I20. So if you have a specific methodology that you want employers to use, provide
that to the students to give to their employers.
b. Follow-up question: When you say that the employers have been instructed to use the
information that is printed on the [sic I-20], is that part of some instruction in EVerify that you are aware of?
c. SEVP Response (Track 20, :16): No; it’s an FAQ, and if they don’t read it, they don’t
know it. But the student is going to be the conduit of information and since the
student has to come to you to request the OPT, that’s your opportunity to give them
information on how you would like for them to report to you, and how you would like
to get in reporting from the employer.
12. Has there been discussion of a mechanism (perhaps an on-line form) that employers could
use to report the departure of a student on extended OPT directly to DHS/SEVP, rather than
having to report to the DSO?
a. SEVP Response (Track 19, :43): No. At this time, there’s really no way because it
would be difficult in SEVIS to open it up to a whole new group of people. We’d have
to put a lot of resources in it, and you probably would not like for us to go ahead and
do that because that means that all of the things you wanted in the way of
functionality would go down a level in priority. This might be possible in SEVIS II,
but probably not SEVIS II in the first iteration of it, because there’s a lot more things
that we want to do in SEVIS II, that you all want to do in SEVIS II as well, that take
more priority. So we’ll probably be having employer reporting for some time to
come. However, I might mention in SEVIS II, we do plan to have students reporting
directly in SEVIS on their employment and their address changes. So that should
relieve a lot of the burden off you all.
13. Students applying for STEM majors are indicating that their employers don't want to release
their E-Verify numbers. One student indicated that his attorney would enter the number on
the I-765 and mail the documents directly. Is there any problem with this? DSOs don't have
to see the E-Verify number, right?
a. SEVP Response (Track 16, 2:36): There’s no problem with that. DSOs are not
required to see the E-verify #. You are not required to verify that the student [has] an
E-verify employer. That’s the student’s responsibility.
14. A member reports that E-Verify is "on hold" in New Jersey because of a pending lawsuit
related to it. Other states have prohibited the use of E-Verify as well. What will the
implication of this be for students eligible for STEM OPT extensions who are employed in
those states – will they be ineligible for a 17-month OPT extension because of E-Verify
being on hold or not in use?
a. SEVP Response (Track 12, :34): Right now, the knowledge that I have, which is not
firsthand, is that…there has been either an agreement to wait, but right now, nobody
is prohibited from enrolling in E-verify. That may be subject to change, but the
lawsuit that was in Illinois, [] right now, businesses can apply. While it has not been
resolved, there has been some legal action to make sure that if employers want to
apply for E-verify they can. The regulation doesn’t have any wiggle room. It
absolutely requires that the employer be an E-verify employer.
15. If a student that has been granted the 17 month OPT extension, and changes employers
during the extension period to an employer that has not enrolled in the E-Verify program,
what action should the DSO take? Is that employment valid? How should the DSO advise
the student?
a. SEVP Response (Track 12, 1:30): The DSO is required to report what the student
reports to them []. You do need to let the student know that if they are [not] going to
work for an E-verify employer, they are not meeting the requirements. They are
therefore going to be out of status and most likely the way that it’s going to be found
is we’ll probably do a validation in SEVIS, take a look at those employers, check
them against the list of E-verify employers. Also, if they apply for any other type of
benefit, for example an H-1B, and it’s shown that they were working for an employer
that was not an E-verify employer, it will be the basis for a denial. I would strongly
advise them that the regulations clearly require that they work for an E-verify
16. SEVIS Release 5.8 did not include an update to the Batch Schema. Could SEVP provide
information regarding when the batch interface schema will be updated to accommodate the
changes provided in SEVIS 5.8?
a. See # 7.
17. While the regulations only require program and field of study (but not minor), SEVIS 5.8
now requires primary major, secondary major, and minor. Since SEVP quickly eliminated
these new requirements for K-12 and other types of schools that don’t traditionally use these
fields, it seems that it would be possible to change minor back to a “non-required” field for
all schools since it is an extra-regulatory requirement. Is this something that SEVP could
consider for SEVIS Release 5.9?
a. SEVP Response (Track 14, 1:29): No. It is actually, for most post-secondary schools,
colleges and universities, part of the program of study, and it is essential for security
requirements so we are gong to continue to require it.
b. See also SEVP Response (Track 22, :00); This was a requirement that came from the
Homeland Security Council. It has to do with, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the
“visa MANTIS,” this is part of the “domestic MANTIS” efforts. So the requirement
to put a minor in is going to stay. Now there may be a mechanism later on, probably
not in SEVIS I, but in SEVIS II, for you, if you do not have minors at your school, to
be able to automatically populate that with “none.” But if you have minors, you are
going to be expected to indicate that.
SEVIS Functionality
18. A number of members have reported that students’ SEVIS records have been auto-terminated
via CLAIMS after having an H-1B petition approved with a start date of October 1, 2008.
This was a problem previously, which seemed to have been resolved, but is coming up again.
What steps are being taken to resolve these incorrect auto-terminations, and what should
DSOs do to ensure that resolution occurs?
a. SEVP Response (Track 14, 2:21): This is an issue because the CLAIMS interface
failed to populate the benefit dates when they sent us the approval. So if [USCIS] sent
it with the benefit dates, it is going to terminate on October 1. If [USCIS] sent it
blank, we’re populating them and processing that the same night the update is sent to
SEVIS. So the fix for that again is to call the SEVIS Help Desk and we’re going to go
ahead and update the benefit dates in the file and re-process and set the records back
to active status.
19. Will SEVIS include alert lists for 17 month extension OPT students who need to submit a 6
month validation report?
a. SEVP Response (Track 1:20): We will definitely be looking at putting that in the
November release; that will be one of things we will look at. Part of what goes into
that release depends upon how many things we need to put in it, and the priorities for
New OPT Regulations
Unemployment issues
20. Graduates offered fall teaching positions, say in June/July, should be able to consider
themselves employed as of the date they accept an offer, not the employment start date, so
they are not accumulating days toward the 90-day unemployment rule. In the case of a
student who has a job offer with a start date in the future, would it be possible for SEVP
NOT count the days between EAD start date and the job offer’s start date as days of
unemployment? For example: A May 15, 2008 graduate has a job offer for a faculty position
that does not begin until September 15, 2008. The student applies for OPT to start at the
latest possible date, which for her is July 14, 2008.
a. SEVP Response (Track 13, 1:28): Our goal is not to put students out of status because
they’re unemployed. We realize that this year, it’s planning issues. This was a
surprise for everybody. So we want the students to do the best they can; if they have
the gaps in the employment, and they are applying for benefits, or we do a validation,
or they come to attention for another reason, they may need to be able to explain why
they haven’t been employed during that 90 days. We will be a little more forgiving
during this transition period, but starting next year, everybody knows that this 90 day
unemployment applies. You also can apply now during your grace period, so you can
plan the timing of your filing for OPT a little differently. You can also take advantage
of volunteer work to fill in that gap time. So it is a new way of looking at OPT. There
are new rules. People are going to have to change their planning and adjust it
21. Is there a grace period for the student to transfer, depart the US, apply for a change of status
or begin a new program of study after the 90th day of unemployment?
a. SEVP Response (Track 15, 2:00): No. 90 days of unemployment is a violation of
status, so there isn’t a grace period after violation of status. We do not have any
reinstatement provisions in the guidance yet, but we are looking at putting
reinstatement provisions in there, some guidance for how to handle reinstatement.
22. How are days of unemployment counted, business days (i.e. Monday-Friday) or calendar
a. SEVP Response (Track 19, 2:00): Actual Calendar days.
23. In the SEVP Policy Guidance 0801-01 (7.2.1, pp. 14-15), it states that students must work at
least 20 hours per week. “Part-time” is currently defined as 20 hours per week or less. What
happens if a student is in a position that has variable hours, and works weeks where their
hours are less than 20 in a week? Will it be considered unemployment?
a. SEVP Response (Track 5, :45): If they have a variable schedule, we ask that within a
month, it averages out to 20 hours a week. So if it’s 18 hours one week and 32 hours
another week, that would suffice. But the student needs to be keeping careful records
of that should they be asked about it.
24. Clarification is requested for cases involving employment changes in the middle of the OPT,
STEM OPT and H-1B processes. For example, if a student is working at employer A until
the end of his OPT authorization, but has received a job from employer B who has filed an
H-1B application for the 2009 fiscal year to begin on 10/1/2008 and which begins his
employment (if application is approved) with employer B. The Policy Guidance shows that
the student would be eligible to continue working with employer A until October 1 of the
following fiscal year, when the H-1B petition for employer B would begin.
a. Must he begin working at employer B to benefit from the cap-gap extension?
b. OR must he file for an extension under the STEM provision (if he qualifies)?
i. SEVP Response (Track 9, 2:50): The student can choose to work for either
employer. He can work for the employer he has now, he can work for the H1B employer.
25. Currently it can be difficult to impossible to cancel OPT once it has been approved. Students
need to apply early enough to meet current processing times, and be mindful of the changes
to pre- and post-completion OPT applications as well as the occasionally uncertain
completion dates. Are SEVP and USCIS considering an easier means of cancelling OPT
prior to the start date on the EAD?
a. SEVP Response (Track 15, :40): We haven’t talked about this is detail, and I don’t
think it’s going to be a priority. The problem is not putting functionality in SEVIS to
cancel an application. The process is at the Service Center, communicating that that
particular file has to be stopped and the processing withdrawn on it. The other
problem is that only the person who filed that application can legally ask that
processing stop on that application. So it’s something that we can have open for
discussion, but I don’t that there is an easy quick fix for it. Again, we can definitely
have discussion on it, we’re open to suggestions on it, but the realities of how
documents are processed at Service Centers, the massive number of documents that
they have to handle, and the legalities of who can actually stop that processing are
pretty big hurdles to overcome.
26. The regulations [8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(iii)] state that “USCIS will adjudicate the Form I–765
and, if approved, issue an EAD on the basis of the DSO's recommendation and other
eligibility considerations.” and [8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(iii)(A)] “[t]he employment authorization
for post-completion OPT…ends at the conclusion of the remaining time period of postcompletion OPT eligibility.” In addition, the SEVP Policy Guidance (6.2) states that “A
student may request less than 12 months if s/he wishes to retain a period of OPT for another
degree at the same academic level.”
a. Could SEVP confirm that it is possible for an F-1 student to split OPT between two
same-level for a total of 12 months?
b. Is USCIS prepared to issue EADs for less than a 12 month period of time?
i. SEVP Response (Track 17, :22): Yes. And I’d like to reiterate that the
guidance we put out, that was fully staffed with USCIS. We worked in
conjunction with them. They have definitely been our partners throughout this
and it’s been good teamwork between the two of us.
27. The previous pro-rate language in 214.2(f)(11) seems to have been removed. Can SEVP
confirm that part-time pre-completion OPT will continue to be pro-rated at 50%?
a. SEVP Response (Track 13, :57): Yes.
28. On Page 26 of the SEVP Policy Guidelines for the Post-Completion OPT, there is a table of
events that affect the cap gap. It states that for those students that have receipts, that DSOs
should print new I-20s showing the extension. Can SEVP and USCIS confirm that the
extension is automatic, and that the I-20 only serves as documentation but is not a
requirement for the automatic extension of status and work authorization?
a. SEVP Response (Track 7, :00 ): The regulation calls this an “automatic” extension.
The automatic part does not happen in SEVIS; it does not happen with the paperwork.
The automatic part means that this is an automatic benefit granted to the student that
nothing else has to be filed for. So they do not have to file with USCIS to get this.
They basically are going to have to give us some evidence so that we know they are
one of the people entitled to it, but SEVP and the DSOs have to work together to
make sure that the students are able to get documentation to show that they have the
cap gap. Technically, they have it, they just won’t have any evidence that they have it
unless we are able to give them an I-20 that shows that they are entitled to the cap
gap. So that is part of the reason for the elaborate instructions on how to help students
who have the cap gap. [Part of the issues are] they get the cap gap unless their
application is rejected, denied or withdrawn. There is nothing in a system to show us
that an application has been rejected. The only way that we know that an application
has been rejected is that it has not been receipted, and that’s why when you look at
our guidance, we have some dates as to when you have to do certain things. That’s
because, for those particular applications, we don’t have any data in CLAIMS that
can be shared with SEVIS. So we have to have a workaround for those. Now, once
the application is receipted, the information does go into CLAIMS and we can do an
interface with SEVIS. We don’t have all of that worked out yet because we have to
take the time. SEVIS is getting this information, but we have to have some new
programming done to tell SEVIS what to do with the information because it’s never
had to do this before. So it’s going to take us some time to update SEVIS so that
SEVIS will take the proper action. SEVIS will also know if the application has been
denied or withdrawn.
b. SEVP Response (Track 13, :03): Basically, this would be the only documentation that
this person is here legally, so most of the students are going to need this I-20, because
otherwise they will be an “undocumented legal alien.”
29. Under Section 9.3.1 in the 'SEVP Policy Guidance 0801-01', the DSO needs to request a data
fix and provide evidence that the student is entitled to the extension. However, as of May 1,
2008, the Help Desk does not know how to process the data fix under this guidance. They
have requested information from SEVP and have not received an answer. Could SEVP
clarify HOW DSOs should request a data fix for the SEVIS records of students who are
eligible for the ‘cap-gap’ extension and their authorizations have not been updated in SEVIS?
a. SEVP Response (Track 7, 2:52): The first thing you do if a student asks you about
their cap gap and whether or not they can get a cap gap I-20, first check to see if their
regular OPT end date is more than 10 days in the future, you may want to wait
because we could possibly have a workaround by then that works better, or we may
have SEVIS updated to do some of this functionality. However, if it’s less than 10
days, you need to ask for a data fix and then print the I-20 for the student. About how
long is it taking now to get that data fix done Yvette? (Yvette) The longest is 2 weeks.
b. SEVP Response (Track 18, 1:05): When you call the SEVIS Help Desk, we have to
open up a ticket first, and then we require the required documentation before we
process your actual ticket. So if we do it this way, it’s going to be actually longer than
just submitting the correction request itself…it’s a whole lot faster for you to submit
the correction request and get it over. Make sure your correction request also has the
receipt number for the benefit and it will be processed a lot faster than you calling the
SEVIS Help Desk. You get an email from Tier 2 about your documentation, you get
your documentation in, and then you get called by an analyst about the data fix
actually being processed.
30. Processing times are at or within 90 days now for some Service Centers but have taken more
than 90 days in the past. Even if processing times are slightly under 90 days, the new rule
prevents students from having OPT start immediately after program completion (if mail time
and EAD processing time are included). Would USCIS and SEVP consider not restricting
students from applying prior to 90 days before the estimated program completion date for
post-completion OPT applications?
a. SEVP Response (Track 17, 2:08): Unfortunately this is in the regulation, so we’ll
have to change the regulation in order to do that, but that is quite possible that we will
do that.
Other issues
31. Considering all of the datafixes that DSOs will be required to request in the coming months
(i.e., OPT requested after graduation, cap gap fixes, H-1Bs terminating the F-1 record on the
date of adjudication rather than the date the benefit begins, etc.) will the Help Desk be hiring
more staff because of the increased workload?
a. SEVP Response (Track 18, 3:16): Have enough resources to meet the 30-day
turnaround time.
32. DSOs often encounter students and scholars who have no official “family name”. They may
have one or in many cases several first/given names, but their passport has no family name
listed. The information on the ICE website is quite confusing, as it conflicts itself:
How should names be entered into SEVIS?
Name submissions must be consistent on all official travel documents (passports,
Forms I-20, and Forms I-94). The earliest official document sets the standard. For
most nonimmigrant students, this is the SEVIS record that creates the initial Form I20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status.
When you create an initial record in SEVIS, use the name exactly as it
appears on the nonimmigrant’s passport. If no passport is available use the
name on the birth certificate (and marriage certificate if applicable). If neither of
these documents is available, instruct the nonimmigrant to carefully verify
spelling and name sequence.
If the student’s language uses an alphabet other than English, use the name
provided by the student on his or her application. Be certain that the student
understands the United States standards for first and last name, and enters this
information correctly on application forms. If the nonimmigrant has only one
name, this must be used as the last name.
o Nonimmigrants with one name should be aware that some government
officials enter the acronym FNU (first name unknown) in the first name
o Conversely, some officials are not familiar with this acronym and look for
the nonimmigrant to show that his or her first name is Fnu. The
nonimmigrant should be able to explain the acronym if it is causing
validation problems with any government process.
o Do not use FNU in SEVIS.
First, DSOs are told to use the name as it is indicated in the passport. The information then
states that if the students have only one name, it should be noted as their last name in SEVIS.
Obviously the idea is to have all documents matching (i.e. passport, I-20, visa, I-94 card).
Consular officers often use “FNU” on the visa stamp. Students and scholars aren’t sure what
to do on the I-94 card. This issue becomes steadily more pertinent with REAL ID on the
horizon. We realize that this issue needs to be carefully resolved by numerous agencies, but
immediate clarification will benefit agencies, students, EVs and schools. Is SEVP actively
discussing this matter with DOS, DMV and SSA? What is the anticipated date for resolution
of this issue?
a. SEVP Response (Track 13, 3:07): If they only have one name, we would like you to
put that in the last name field. We realize that names are a critical issue. It’s how most
of the systems interface with each other, and one of the things we’ll be doing as part
of SEVIS II is looking at data standards for names. We have to work with Department
of State and all of our other partners in DHS whenever we’re setting these standards,
but one of our goals is to do this as fast as possible so we can get that information out
to you as quickly as we can. But definitely, if all you have is a first name, put it in the
last name field.
b. NAFSA note: This question was also forwarded for the July 2008 teleconference to
confirm that the DSO should leave the first name field blank.
33. If a student is temporarily residing in a country other than his/her home country (working,
studying abroad), which address should we put in SEVIS – the home country address, or the
foreign address where the student currently lives?
a. SEVP Response (Track 17, 2:37): The foreign address where the student currently
lives, and then you need to note in the remarks that the student is abroad and this is
their address while they are abroad. Then we would prefer that when the student
returns that you put their home address back into it.
34. Currently it is time consuming to check a student’s record, check the status of their USCIS
case and request a correction in SEVIS. Is there a plan to have SEVIS and CLAIMS
interface with each application submitted to USCIS? Why do some SEVIS records have
CLAIMS interface while others do not?
a. SEVP Response (Track 18, :19): The plans are that SEVIS II and CLAIMS will talk
and share information about all of the applications. One of the reasons right now
though that the interfaces do not work is the algorithms that match them are based on
names and dates of birth, and if that information is not consistent, the student uses
different information on their application that they have in SEVIS, then there are
going to be problems with matching.
35. Does the SEVIS Help Desk have access to CLAIMS? If so, would it be possible to simply
call in a request for a datafix that the Help Desk could then pursue without requiring
documentation to be faxed in from the DSO/ARO?
a. SEVP Response (Track 18, 1:05): There are personnel at the Help Desk that have
access to CLAIMS. The issue with this question is that if you’re asking whether they
can look in CLAIMS and just make your update, it’s not that simple.
M-1 Questions
36. Could SEVP and USCIS consider eliminating the requirement that M-1 transfers be
a. SEVP Response (Track 17, :50): We can consider this, but we cannot do it without
making a change to the regulation. So we are looking at making some changes to the
M-1 regulations, and that’s something we can take into consideration when looking at
the reg[ulation]s.
37. Have SEVP and USCIS considered removing the requirement that an M-1 student must file
an I-539 extension to cover their practical training period? This seems to be a bit of an
unreasonable expense considering that M-1 practical training period is so short.
a. SEVP Response (Track 17, 3:05): Yes, we will strongly consider that, but again,
because it requires a regulatory change, we can’t just change it in policy guidance.
We have to make an update to the regulation before we can do this.
Recertification Questions
38. In the Proposed Fee/Recertification Rule, a change is being proposed to 8 CFR 214.3 which
would require the school to keep the “[d]ate of the last entry into the United States” and the
“most recent Form I-94 number and date of issue” for each student. Since this information is
collected at the port of entry when a student arrives to the US, and is often entered into
SEVIS, why is the proposal to make schools collect this information?
a. SEVP Response (Track 16, :52): Based on all of the comments, we’re strongly
considering removing that part, changing that requirement.