Student and Exchange Visitor Program
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program is a program run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that monitors all student and exchange visitors. Nonimmigrants travelling to the U.S. on F, M or J visas are required to register in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) as well as the schools and exchange programs that enroll nonimmigrants.
SEVP was initially created in 1996 as a response to terrorists bombings at the World Trade Center in New York City. Terrorist Eyad Ismoil had entered the country on a student visa to attend Wichita State but then dropped out of college. SEVP was created to monitor any unusual activity, such as student visitors dropping out of school, in order to maintain the safety and security of the U.S.
SEVP is used to track persons in the U.S. on student and exchange visas. Visitors' information is inputted into the system that may be accessed by the Department of Homeland Security (DoS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration, Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other government agencies.
The evolution of SEVP and SEVIS
Since its creation in 1996, SEVP has evolved from a complicated and flawed manual system to its current streamlined digital state which includes the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
- 1996 - The Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students (CPIRIS) was launched as a pilot program as mandated by the Illegal Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996. Eventually this became the Student Exchange and Visitors Program (SEVP).
- 1997 - The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was dismantled and replaced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. ICE which now manages SEVP.
- 2001 - The student visa system was abused again, this time by the terrorists of the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Terrorist Hani Hanjour had entered the country on a student visa but never attended school and the proper government agencies were not notified in a timely manner.
The Patriot Act was created and enacted as a response to these attracts and it was mandated that a digitized system be created to track international students and visitors in the U.S. And so, SEVIS was created to do just that.
- 2002 - SEVIS was officially launched, updating the SEVP registration system from a complicated, decentralized manual procedure to a digital, user-friendly process.
- 2012 - All English as a Second Language (ESL) programs were required to be accredited as mandated by the Accreditation of English Language Training Act. When this was enacted, some students holding F visas were required to return home early if the programs they were enrolled in failed to get accreditation.
- 2013 - SEVP launched several changes to the system in an effort to streamline certification processes and overall make the system more efficient.
SEVP is currently working on a new regulation system to be called SEVIS II. It will use similar procedures as the current system, but with added functionality.
How to Register, Student
If you are a student or exchange visitor coming to the U.S., you will have to register in SEVIS. You will need to file Form I-901, Fee Remittance for Certain F, J and M Nonimmigrants. The form can be filed online on ICE's website or through mail.
Once you are enrolled in a SEVP-certified school, the school will issue you a document called Form I-20 which you will use to register in SEVIS and also bring to your visa interview.
Find a Study or Exchange Program in the U.S.: https://www.educationusa.info/
Immigration and Customs Enforcement: https://www.educationusa.info/
Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs - Student and Exchange Visitor Visas: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1270.html
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
ESL Programs in the U.S.: http://esl.com/
Form I-901, Form I-901, Fee Remittance for Certain F, J and M Nonimmigrants: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp