Foreign Student Series: What SEVIS Means to You

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

We are now ten weeks into our Foreign Student Series on higher education in the United States. So far we have talked about planning for school and about subjects like online education and diploma mills.

StudentsLast week the subject was getting a travel visa. Today we discuss something else that every foreign student needs to know about: SEVIS. SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

More than nine thousand American colleges, universities and exchange visitor programs are required to use this electronic system. It links them with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in the Department of Homeland Security.

The terrorist attacks in two thousand one led to the creation of the department. But SEVIS was being developed even before the attacks as a way to improve record keeping on foreign students in the United States. Some of the September eleventh hijackers entered the country on student visas.

With SEVIS, a school enters information about a student. The system lets the school know when the student has arrived. The school must then provide reports on whether or not the student is attending classes. Students who violate the terms of their visa can be expelled from the country and may be denied future entry.

Two examples of violations are failing to begin classes by the required date and working at a job without permission. Other violations are not attending classes full time and not leaving the country after completion of studies.

SEVIS currently lists more than one million active, nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents.

Students and exchange visitors are charged fees to help pay for the system. The fee for students increased to two hundred dollars in September. This is the visa application charge we talked about last week.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the fee must be paid before going to an embassy or consulate for the visa interview.

All the information you need to know about SEVIS can be found on the Internet at That's i-c-e dot g-o-v.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Next week: how to begin applying for admission to an American college or university. All of our reports are online at Click on the Foreign Student Series link at the bottom of the page. I'm Steve Ember.