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Immigration FAQ's

Immigration FAQ

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is the internet-based Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is part of the Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and is used to gather information about foreign nationals and their dependents entering the US on student and exchange visitor visas.

Required Documentation

When foreign nationals traveling with F, M or J visas reach a port of entry, they are required to show proof that they are traveling to the institution that sponsored their visa, whether a university, junior college, vocational school or other. For example, they may present the plane ticket for their connecting flight or evidence of other travel plans.

The foreign nationals also must have in their possession the I-20A-B or M-N form, which they would have received upon acceptance to their sponsoring institution. An officer from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will inspect these documents upon arrival in the US and also may request:

  • Proof of the student's ability to financially support him or herself during the course of study
  • Receipts from the most recent tuition payment to the institution
  • Transcripts showing requisite education for the intended program
  • Evidence that the student intends to return home after the course of study or other program is complete

Student Visa Holders

The DHS also recommends that students carry the name and contact information for the designated official at the educational institution, in case questions arise about the student's status.

Once a foreign student is admitted into the US by a DHS officer, the school is notified that the student has entered the country. If the student fails to enroll in classes within 30 days of his or her entry date, the school is required to notify DHS. The school also must notify DHS if the student moves, changes address, changes names or changes course of study. The school also is required by law to notify the DHS if it punishes the student because the student was convicted of a crime. All of this information then is stored in SEVIS.

Currently, SEVIS stores information on more than 1 million current students and over 5.6 million student and exchange visitors total. Prior to SEVIS, the US government did not have a coordinated program to determine whether those entering the US on these types of visas ever made it to their end destinations, creating a serious gap in security.

If you have questions about applying for a student or exchange visitor visa or concerning other immigration issues, contact an experienced lawyer in your area today.

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