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Student Visas and Immigration Matters

The US Government has an elaborate system for processing and monitoring visa status, called SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The key document from SEVIS is the I-20 Form, the Certificate of Eligibility. International students must have a signed I-20 in order to interview for a visa.  Agencies often process I-20s but schools may need to become part of the tracking procedures. When this is the case, high schools must be certified to access SEVIS and have an approved PDSO (Principal/Designated School Official) to do so.  Additional staff can be added as DSO’s (Designated School Officials). The Department of Homeland Security can access the information on a student’s I-20 form to verify that they are an enrolled student in the program of study listed on their documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who will/should serve as the SEVIS specialist (i.e., PDSO/DSO)?
A:  This should be someone either in the School District, or in the school. In the school, it can be an Admissions person or a School Counselor or another school staff member. 
 
Q: What are the responsibilities of a SEVIS specialist?
A:  Your school’s SEVIS specialist should issue and maintain all I-20 documents for students entering and leaving your school, update all status changes (i.e. names and
grades), and maintain the school’s certification process with SEVIS. It can be advisable for the school to collect and keep passports and I-20’s, as lost documents can be very difficult to replace in the US. Should the school do this, these documents must be kept in a fire-proof, locked file cabinet.

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