Initial SEVIS Implementation Complete – Spring 2004

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).

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. Boston University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) began using SEVIS on January 30, 2003, working throughout the spring and summer of 2003, 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 in advance of the government deadline.

A number of key offices across the University cooperated with the ISSO to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. In preparation for SEVIS implementation, Boston University :

  • 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
  • Briefed Boston University faculty, staff and administrators of SEVIS requirements
  • Held forums with many administrative offices to consider SEVIS implications to policies and procedures
  • Trained the ISSO staff on new regulations and SEVIS procedures
  • Held a series of information sessions for continuing Boston University students to communicate regulatory changes and procedures affected by SEVIS
  • Instituted a network of offices to assist the ISSO in completing the required semester verification of all continuing students at the beginning of each semester
  • Enhanced information on the ISSO website to better communicate policies and procedures to the Boston University community

Benefits and Requirements of SEVIS

The real-time electronic tracking of students through SEVIS will assist the International Students and Scholars Office as well as related government agencies to have up-to-date information on international students at Boston University.

The implementation of SEVIS:

  • Allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – which includes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – to maintain updated information on F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars, along with F-2 and J-2 dependents.
  • Allows Boston University to communicate required information to the DHS through secure, encrypted Internet transmissions.
  • Allows U.S. Department of State (DOS) officials at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at ports of entry to the United States , to view SEVIS records created for students, exchange visitors and their dependents.

Immigration regulations pertaining to the upkeep of SEVIS require:

  • New F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors and F-2 and J-2 dependents to report to the ISSO with their immigration documents upon arrival in the United States .
  • All continuing F-1 students to complete semester verification within 15 days of each required semester so that the ISSO can report the student’s continued attendance at Boston University .
  • The ISSO to keep updated records on each student and exchange visitor within the SEVIS database (see list of reportable events below)

SEVIS link to Boston University’s Information System (UIS)

SEVIS is a web-based system established for data collection. Therefore, it is 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. USCIS regulations require that certain events affecting immigration status be reported. ISSO advisors will monitor updates before they are sent to SEVIS, after which UIS will automatically send certain information to SEVIS. 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 as being 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.

Reportable Events in SEVIS

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 Department of State 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:

  • Registration/enrollment each school term
  • Leaves of absence, suspensions, or withdrawals from school;
  • Authorized and unauthorized drops below a “full course of study”, as defined by USCIS regulations;
  • Resumption of a “full course of study” after an authorized drop;
  • Employment off campus;
  • Dependent information
  • U.S. residential address changes
  • Changes in major, program of study, or expected completion date
  • Transfer to a new college or to a new degree level
  • Periods of authorized and unauthorized employment
  • Termination/disruption of optional practical training
  • Reinstatement to status after any violations
  • 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 and corrections
  • Change in school or sponsor
  • Termination of studies or termination of participation in an exchange program
  • Change in funding
  • Application for a new visa

Additional information on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) can be found at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) website at

Concluding Remarks

With the implementation of SEVIS, it is 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. 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 .