On April 29, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to amend its regulations under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The proposed amendment will serve to improve management of international student programs and to increase opportunities for study by spouses and children of international students. According to Lou Farrell, SEVP director, “This final rule improves the capability of schools to assist their international students in maintaining nonimmigrant status. The rule also increases the attractiveness of studying in the United States for international students by broadening study opportunities for their spouses and children.”
Under the first part of the amendment, SEVP-certified schools will be granted greater flexibility in determining how many designated school officials (DSO) it will nominate to serve as a liaison between the school and SEVP. The DSO is primarily responsible for maintaining an international student’s records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which produces an F-1 Student’s I-20. The DSO is also responsible for ensuring that the school complies with U.S. laws and regulations governing international students studying in the U.S. by entering appropriate data regarding the student’s academic program and any optional practical training (OPT) or curricular practical training (CPT) that the student undertakes.
Under the current regulation, a school is limited to a maximum of 10 nominated DSOs. The amended regulations will remove the cap on the number of permissible DSOs, thereby allowing SEVP-certified schools to nominate the appropriate number of DSOs based on the number of international students applying to or enrolled in the school’s academic programs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will remain responsible for reviewing each DSO nominee and will maintain discretion on whether to approve or deny the nomination.