Boston University prepares for launch of Student & Exchange Visitor Information System Tracking System (SEVIS)

This message has been prepared by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) to update the Boston University community on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

On January 30, 2003, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will institute an electronic reporting system to track international students and exchange visitors in the United States. Under the web-based SEVIS system, all U.S. schools will be required to report specific information on F-1 students, F-2 dependents, J-1 students, scholars, and exchange visitors, and J-2 dependents to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (USCIS) through secure, encrypted Internet transmissions.

Boston University will begin using the SEVIS system on January 30, 2003, for any new immigration documents created. The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) will then work throughout the Spring to enter information on Boston University’s nearly 5500 continuing international students and scholars into the tracking system and to reissue each student in F or J status a new SEVIS immigration document.

Boston University has been aware of the development of SEVIS since the tracking program was first mandated by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996. In recent months, key offices across the University have cooperated to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. In preparation for SEVIS implementation, Boston University has:

  • Briefed Boston University faculty, staff and administrators of SEVIS requirements
  • Held forums with many administrative offices to consider SEVIS implications to policies and procedures
  • Modified and enhanced the University Information System (UIS) to ensure that records will be retained, updated and reported
  • Purchased a commercial software package to transmit the required information to the SEVIS system
  • Trained the ISSO staff on new regulations and SEVIS procedures

The SEVIS tracking system promises to be an efficient tool for students, exchange visitors and scholars traveling in and out of the U.S., applying for visas, and requesting immigration benefits for their F or J status. The new SEVIS I-20 and DS-2019 forms will have include a two-dimensional bar code that will allow USCIS officials at U.S. ports of entry and Department of State (DOS) officials at U.S. consulates and embassies to electronically check the validity of a student’s status. While this will eventually speed the process of applying for visas and being allowed to enter the U.S., it also significantly increases the F or J visa holder’s responsibility to maintain accurate computer records.

Electronic Reporting

Since SEVIS is a web-based system established for data collection, it will be very important that information regarding students and exchange visitors on record at the ISSO and in the University Information System (UIS) be completely up-to-date. UIS will automatically send certain information to SEVIS. Although ISSO advisors will be able to review records before they are sent to the SEVIS system, USCIS regulations require that certain events affecting immigration status be reported. Failure to maintain accurate records with the University may result in technical violations, which might have significant consequences for the immigration status of students, scholars and exchange visitors. Any exceptions to the regulations (such as enrolling less then full-time, even during the student’s last semester) will need to be pre-approved by an ISSO advisor so that SEVIS does not report the student to be in violation of status. Students, scholars and exchange visitors should work closely with the ISSO to make certain they comply with all F or J regulations.

Boston University will report to the government only information required by federal law.

For F-1 students, this includes all the information listed on the student’s USCIS Form I-20: legal name, country and date of birth, country of citizenship, USCIS admission number, major, program of study, level of education, expected commencement of studies, date of completion, information on F-2 dependents, and sources of funding.

For J-1 students, scholars, and exchange visitors, USCIS requires the reporting of all information on DOS Form DS-2019 (formerly IAP-66): legal name, city, country and date of birth, country of citizenship, country of residence, program sponsor, dates of program commencement and completion, information on J-2 dependents.

The University will also be required to report information on academic, disciplinary, or other events that affect a student or exchange visitor’s nonimmigrant status. For F-1 students, these reportable events include, but are not limited to:

  1. registration/enrollment each school term
  2. leaves of absence, suspensions, or withdrawals from school;
  3. authorized and unauthorized drops below a “full course of study”, as defined by USCIS regulations;
  4. resumption of a “full course of study” after an authorized drop;
  5. employment off campus;
  6. dependent information
  7. U.S. residential address changes
  8. changes in major, program of study, or expected completion date
  9. transfer to a new college or to a new degree level
  10. periods of authorized and unauthorized employment
  11. termination/disruption of optional practical training
  12. reinstatement to status after any violations
  13. termination of F-1 status due to degree completion, change of status, failure to maintain status, or other reason

For J-1 visa holders, reportable actions include, but are not limited to: extensions, reinstatements, changes of category, changes of status, replacement of a lost form, amendments, corrections, change in school or sponsor, termination of studies or termination of participation in an exchange program, or for application for a new visa.

Additional information on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) can be found at the USCIS Web site at:

Timeline for issuance of SEVIS I-20 and DS-2019 forms to Boston University Students

When the Boston University International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) converts immigration records from the current paper-based reporting system to SEVIS, we will issue all current Boston University students in F-1 status a new USCIS Form I-20, which will be a SEVIS Form I-20, and all J-1 students, scholars and exchange visitors a new SEVIS Form DS-2019. F-2 dependents will each be issued an individual SEVIS Form I-20. J-2 dependents will each be issued an individual SEVIS Form DS-2019.

Students, scholars, exchange visitors and F-2 and J-2 dependents will need new SEVIS immigration documents after January 30, 2003, if they will be traveling outside the U.S. and will need to apply for a new F or J visa, if there is any significant change to the information on the current USCIS Form I-20 or DOS Form DS-2019, or if they will experience any of the “reportable events” as listed above. With the exception of students who need a new document for these reasons, Boston University will begin issuing SEVIS I-20 Forms and SEVIS DS-2019 Forms to students, exchange visitors and scholars by school or college later in the Spring. When the SEVIS immigration documents for a particular school or college or ready, the ISSO will also hold mandatory information sessions for students in applicable programs in order to highlight regulatory changes and to distribute the new documents in an orderly fashion.

All Boston University students in F-1 status and their F-2 dependents will be issued SEVIS I-20 Forms and all J-1 students, scholars, exchange visitors, and J-2 dependents will be issued SEVIS DS-2019 Forms before the mandatory deadline of August 1, 2003. Until new SEVIS I-20 Forms and SEVIS DS-2019 Forms are issued, F and J visa holders may travel and reenter with a current, accurate, properly endorsed non-SEVIS immigration form that has been issued before January 30, 2003. All persons in F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status will need new SEVIS immigration documents to enter the U.S. on or after August 1, 2003.

Important dates for Implementation of new USCIS Regulations and SEVIS

  • January 1, 2003 – New provisions of revised USCIS F and J regulations become effective
  • January 30, 2003 – Mandatory compliance deadline to begin using SEVIS. Only SEVIS I-20 Forms and DS-2019 Forms may be issued on or after this date. Accurate, properly endorsed Non-SEVIS I-20 Forms or DS-2019 Forms issued before this date may be used until August 1, 2003, except when a student, scholar or exchange visitor is traveling outside of the U.S. and will apply for a new F or J visa.
  • August 1, 2003 – Mandatory compliance deadline by which all current and continuing students, scholars and exchange visitors must be entered into the SEVIS system and issued new SEVIS I-20 Forms or SEVIS DS-2019 Forms. Non-SEVIS I-20 Forms and DS-2019 Forms issued before January 30, 2003 may no longer be used for any purpose.

Concluding Remarks

With the implementation of the SEVIS system, it will be more important than ever for students, scholars, and exchange visitors to understand and comply with the regulations pertaining to their status and to ensure that their information in UIS is accurate and complete. The staff of the ISSO is committed to helping nonimmigrant students, and the broader Boston University community, understand changing regulations, as well as to assisting students, scholars and exchange visitors in taking advantage of certain benefits available to them in F or J status, and to facilitating a smooth transition to the SEVIS tracking system. As always, we are pleased to provide nonimmigrant students, scholars and exchange visitors with information, counseling, and assistance so that they can maintain lawful F or J status in order to achieve their educational goals at Boston University.