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SEVP Certification

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) School Certification Branch (SCB) is responsible for evaluating petitions submitted by insititutions wishing to be approved by the Department of Homeland Security for attendance by nonimmigrant students.

Nonimmigrant students who come to the United States to pursue full-time academic or vocational/technical training are usually admitted in one of two nonimmigrant categories:

  • F-1 includes academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, and academic high schools, other academic institutions, Fine Arts, and language training; or
  • M-1 includes vocational, technical training, flight schools, and non-academic schools.

Certification Criteria

Institutions must meet the following basic requirements for SEVP certification.  The institution:

  • must be a bona fide school;
  • must be an established institution of learning;
  • must possess the necessary facilities, personnel and finances to conduct instruction in recognized courses of study;
  • must currently be engaged in instruction at the time of filing and NOT at some point prior to final adjudication.

Additionally, Institutions applying for M classification (vocational AND technical training), must have programs which meet for a minimum of 18 hours per week, if the program is primarily classroom instruction, or 22 hours per week if the program is primarily lab work.  English language schools must have programs that meet for a minimum of 18 hours per week.

Why Become Certified?

Once certified, the school has access to SEVIS and may issue Forms I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Student Status, to prospective students.  To maintain certfication, the school must comply with all SEVP policies as well as meet recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Page Summary: Institutions must meet specific criteria to earn SEVP Certification