TN 2 (02-10)

RM 10211.280 Verifying SEVIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) and Evidence of Employment Status

The SEVIS Form I-20 is the primary DHS document for F-1 and M-1 students who do not have Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). SEVIS information and active status must match DHS records or DHS will not verify immigration status. The I-20 information is included in the document information sent to DHS by SSNAP and is verified during the DHS verification process.

The DHS-approved SEVIS school code and an approval date is in item 2 on the I-20. Do not routinely question:

  • the existence of a school,

  • whether it is approved, or

  • data on Form I-20.

For additional information on the I-20, see RM 10211.275.

DHS determines if a school is approved to accept foreign students. An approved school is:

  • a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other academic institution, or language training program that has been approved by DHS to accept F-1 students.

  • an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program, that has been approved by DHS to accept M-1 students.

All approved schools are authorized by DHS to enter and update data in SEVIS about foreign students accepted and enrolled in their schools, and issue students Form I-20. Do not accept any I-20 that is not generated by SEVIS.

A. When to verify the existence of an approved school

If you have any reason to believe, the school shown on the I-20 does not exist or whether it is an approved school by DHS, take the following actions:

  • Verify the school through the NYnet DHS Approved Schools for Foreign Students database. This site contains a regularly updated listing of all the schools that DHS has approved to accept foreign students. You can access the site from the Tools and Resources tab on PolicyNet or from a hyperlink in the Enumeration System.

  • Check the school’s name, school code number, and SEVIS-approval date against what is shown in item 2 of the I-20 provided by the F-1 or M-1 student.

  • If a school does not appear on the NYnet list, you may also check the updated DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) approved schools lists at http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search/ to verify that a school is approved. If you do not find a school on the DHS list, and the student has presented what appears to be a valid SEVIS-generated I-20, call your regional office contact for assistance.

B. When to verify the evidence of employment with the Designated School Official (DSO) and employer

Confirm, with the student’s DSO, the student employment information and, with the employer, the employment information in any of the following situations:

  • SSA has knowledge that the school does not offer on-campus employment for F-1 students;

  • The student’s address on the SS-5 is not within reasonable commuting distance of the school he or she attends;

  • The FO is not familiar with the DSO’s name/signature as shown on the I-20, letter regarding on-campus employment for an F-1 student, or DSO sign-off on employer letter; or

  • If there is doubt about the authenticity of the I-20.

NOTE: SSA has no authority to police or enforce whether F-1 students actually perform work or the duration of the work. If a field office suspects any abuse of the enumeration process of this type, discuss with management who may contact the RO for guidance before taking any action. The RO, in consultation with CO if needed, will determine whether a referral is appropriate. A meeting between SSA field office management and school officials will clear up any misunderstandings or inappropriate referrals of F-1 students to SSA by the school. A referral to OIG may be appropriate if a school appears to be facilitating F-1 students’ attainment of SSNs by providing employment documentation with no intention of hiring the students.

C. Reference

  • RM 10211.275, Reviewing SEVIS Form I-20

  • RM 10214.170, Verifying DHS Documents

<