U.S. schools must complete the Web-based Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Students,” before they can enroll international students. This form consists of several fields about the school, including its full legal name, mailing address, type of educational programs offered, accreditation information and more.
In 2012, the Government Accountability Office conducted an audit of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that revealed the current format of the Form I-17 did not effectively monitor a school’s state licensing status, accreditation or Federal Aviation Administration certification.
Since that point, SEVP has developed new ways to monitor SEVP-certified schools for compliance with accreditation and certification requirements. In April 2014, SEVP rolled out an initiative called the Accreditation and Recognition Conversion Project. As part of the initiative, SEVP revised two fields on the Form I-17 to more accurately capture a school’s accreditation information, including expiration dates. All U.S. schools certified by SEVP were asked to complete this task by July 18. The new information will help SEVP identify schools that don’t maintain necessary accreditations and certifications.
To help schools complete this task, SEVP unveiled tutorials, fact sheets, and regular reminders for school officials within the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
“The rendering of accreditations and official recognitions of colleges and universities as a standardized and accessible list of values has greatly streamlined the I-17 update process, while insuring significantly improved and consistent data integrity. We are appreciative of this forward thinking approach,” said Richard Tanson, senior advisor in the International Studies Office at the University of Virginia.
Ninety-one percent of schools entered the necessary information into SEVIS by the deadline. Of the remaining nine percent, only two percent have enrolled international students. SEVP will review which schools did not comply with the Accreditation and Recognition Conversion Project to ensure they meet the qualifications to remain SEVP-certified.