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OI 214.3 Petition for approval of school.
(a) Contents of OI 214.3.
(c) School systems.
(d) Updates to a school's record.
(e) Determinations regarding F or M classification.
(f) Form M-242.
(g) Liaison with designated school officials and students.
(h) Outreach workshops
(i) International educational exchange.
(j) Record-keeping requirements.
(k) Reporting requirements.
(l) Guidelines for Service officer requesting information from designated school officials.
(m) Review of school approvals.
(n) Issuance of Forms I-20.
Attachments and supporting evidence. Each Form I-17, Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Students, must be accompanied by the forms and documents listed below:
Form(s) I-17A, Designated School Officials, listing up to five designated officials for each school or elementary or secondary school system or each school or campus within a school system (except an elementary or secondary school system). If the petitioner is a school system, each Form I-17A must list each school system, each Form I-17A must list each school or campus where the designated officials on the form are authorized to be designated officials.
Form(s) I-17B, School System Attachment, if the petitioner is a school system.
All supporting documents required by item #4 of the instructions to Form I-17.
Investigation of petitioner. If, following an interview of the authorized representative of the petitioner and an examination of the required documentary evidence, an outside inquiry is necessary to resolve any question concerning the bona fides of the school; its facilities, personnel finances, or recognition as an educational institution; or any other pertinent matter; an investigation should be requested. The officer requesting the investigation must draft an individual memorandum to the Investigations
section articulating the reasons for requesting an investigation and specifically what he or she wants to be determined.
Alternative to listing in Department of Education publications.
Listing not published yet. If a school which is not listed in either of the most current revision of the Department of Education publications, "Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Program" or "Education Directory,Colleges and Universities," submits evidence that it will be listed in one of these publications the next time it is published, the school will be considered to be listed in that publication.
"Correspondent" or "candidate for accreditation". When a new institution of higher education indicates that it is having difficulty in meeting the requirement of establishing that its credits have been and are accepted unconditionally by at least three accredited institutions, a suggestion should be made that the institution used the following procedure for establishing eligibility for listing in the "Education Directory, Colleges and Universities". Under this procedure, the institution may correspond wit
h the nationally recognized regional association which has jurisdiction over accreditation of institutions of higher education in the geographical area in which the institution is located in order to obtain recognition as a "correspondent" or "candidate for accreditation". These regional accrediting associations include:
the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and
the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The petitioner should be advised to submit, in support of Form I-17, any response received from the regional accrediting association indicating recognition of it. This response must be included among the papers furnished to the Department of Education when that agency is consulted.
In that case, no investigation should be requested pending receipt of a reply from the Department of Education. If the Department of Education advises that the new institution of higher education has successfully established eligibility for listing in the "Education Directory, Colleges and Universities" through recognition by the regional accrediting association, the institution may be considered to be listed in that publication.
Evidence that a school's courses of study are accepted as fulfilling the requirements for the attainment of an educational, professional, or vocational objective and are not avocational or recreational character.
School which must submit evident that its courses of study must submit evidence that its courses of study fulfill the requirements for the attainment of an educational, professional, or vocational objective,
8 CFR 214.3(b)
states. in part, that a vocational school, business school, language school, and American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General must submit evidence that its courses of study are accepted as fulfilling the requirements for the attainment of an educational , professional or vocational objective and are not avocational or recreational in character.
If a school is not an elementary or secondary school or an institution of higher education, it must demonstrate that it meets this requirement. This applies to vocational schools, business schools language schools, and American institutions of research recognized by the Attorney General, as well as any other institutions which are not elementary or secondary schools or institutions of higher education. If such an institution is approved for attendance of nonimmigrant students, the students are to be class
ified as F-1 or M-1 students depending on the nature of the studies as indicated in OI 214.3(e).
Vocational or professional objective. According to Department of Education guidelines, as evidence that a petitioner meets a vocational or professional objective, it must submit letter from 3 employers of the petitioner's graduates, on the employer's letterhead, stating the name of the graduate, the school from which graduated, the position in which employed, and the period of employment.
Educational objective. To prove that petitioner meets am educational objective it must submit letters from 3 accredited institutions of higher education, on the institution of higher education letterhead, stating the name of the graduate it has enrolled, the date or enrollment, and the fact that enrollment was on he basis of education or training received at the petitioning institution.
Listing in Department of Education publication. According to the Department of Education, all institutions which are listed in the most current revisions of the Department of Education publications, "Accredited postsecondary institutions and programs" or "Education Directory, colleges and Universities," have demonstrated that they meet an educational, vocational or professional objective and are not avocational or recreational in character.
Consultation with the Department of Education. When requesting the advisory opinion of the Department of Education pursuant to
8 CFR 214.3(c)
, the adjudicating officer shall sent to that department copies of Form I-17, all supporting documents, the report of the all interview and of any investigation conductee in the case, and Form I-17B, if applicable. The originals of Form I-17, all supporting documents, the report of the interview and of the investigation, if applicable, and Form I17-B, if applicable, are to be retained in the file. Requests for advisory opinions are to be sent, as appropriate, to the addresses of the Department of Educati
on listed in the Appendix to this OI.
Reference Tools. INS field offices should consult Department of Education (DOE) only when the petitioning school is either unlicensed or unaccredited. Before forwarding any school petition to DOE, Student/school officers should first refer to the latest edition or Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education, and then to the current DOE publication, Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and programs or Education Directory, Colleges and Universities.
Accredited Institutions of Post secondary Education, published by the American Council on Education for the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, may be obtained from Macmillian Publishing Company, Inc., Front & Brown Streets, Riverside, New Jersey 08075.
Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs and Education Directory, Colleges and Universities, both published by the Department of Education, include schools participating in Education, include schools participating in federal programs only. Since these publications do not give a comprehensive listing of all the accredited postsecondary schools, they should not be used as primary reference tools.
Consultation by Telephone. Consultation with DOE may be conducted by telephone if an unaccredited school indicates on the petition, Form I-17, that it has applied to DOE for federal funding under the alternative to accreditation arrangement [ see OI'$ 214.3(b) (3)]. In that case, instead of forwarding the petition to DOE, INS should request a status report from DOE. Telephone checks may also be made on any case that has been referred to DOE's average turnaround time is 20 to 25 days from date of receipt.
However, DOE for certification. DOE's average turnaround time is 20 to 25 days from date of receipt. However, DOE will expedite its responsible request by INS. Inquires to DOE should be addressed to the Chief, Eligibility Branch, at (FTS) 732-4906.
DOE Certification. DOE may certify a school as either degree granting or vocational, based on whether or not that school confers degrees. All schools that do not confer degrees, including English language schools and certain community colleges, are certified as vocational. However, by INS definition, an academic institution, and an educational institution certified by DOE as vocational may approved as an academic institution authorized to accept F-1 students by the INS. To avoid confusion caused by t
hese terms, the DOE certification will simply state whether or not the institution is a bona fied postsecondary school. INS will then determine if the school is classifiable as either F-1 or M-1 pursuant to the provision of
8 CFR 214.3(a)
Congressional Inquires. All Congressional inquires regarding petitions for school approval should be handled by the INS at the district office level. It is the Service's responsibility to ascertain whether a petition is returned for additional information or is awaiting certification by DOE.
Supporting Documents. Service officers should examine petitions for completeness before referring them to DOE for certification . A complete petition should include a Form I-17, a copy of the INS interview statement with the petitioner is a flight school, in addition to the required documents, there should be evidence that the school is currently licensed or approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
School or school system of long-standing and unquestioned reputation. In the case of a private school or school system listed in one of the Department of Education publications, "Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs", or Education Directory, Colleges and Universities," of long-standing and unquestioned reputation, the district director may, in his or her discretion, waive the requirement for a certification by the appropriate licensing, approving or accrediting official that it is licensed, a
pproved, or accredited.
Similarly, in the case of private secondary school or school system of long-standing and unquestioned reputation which is operated by or as part of school or school system which is listed in one of the above publications, the district director may, in his or her discretion, waive the requirement for a certification that it meets the requirements of the state or local public educational system which has been signed by the appropriate public official.
In making a determination as to whether to waive the above requirements, however, it must be kept in mind that the conditions at a school may have changed since the school was last listed in one of the above publications to the extent that the school is no longer eligible for listing in future editions of the publication.
Public school or school system. In the case of a public school or school system which is listed in one of the Department of Education Publications, "Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs" or "Education Directory, Colleges and Universities," or which is a secondary school or school system listed in one of the above publications, the district director may, in his or her discretion, waive the requirement for a certification that it is owned or operated as a public educational institution by the
United States or a state or political subdivision of the United States.
Schools where more than 12 months of alternate work/study is required part of the curriculum. A school approval petition may be approved in behalf of a school where more than 12 months of work/study courses is a required part of the curriculum.
Initial approval. If an initial petition for school approval is approved, Form I-516 (with Forms M-50, M-201, M-258, M-259, I-94, I-20 enclosed) is used to notify the petitioner, A copy or copies of Form(s) I-17A must be attached to the Form I-516 sent to the petitioner. If the school is a school system, a copy or copies of Form(s) I-17B must also be attached to the Form I-516 sent to the petitioner.
Reaffirmation of approval. If the approval of a previously approved school is reaffirmed as a result of the filing of Form I-17 for review of approval or request for change or update, Form I-516 is used to notify the petitioner, with copies of Form(s) I-17A and I-17(B), if applicable, attached. A Form I-17 filed in such a case should be statistically counted as though it were an initial petition.
Approvable school with unapprovable course(s) of study. An unapprovable program at an otherwise approvable school may not be approved, for example, an evening course, in English language where students do not engage in a full course of study. If a petition for a school or school system with unapprovable programs is approved, the approval notice must state that the approval does not extend to those specified programs not found to be in compliance with Service regulations. This applies equally when:
the unapprovable program exists at an otherwise approvable school which has only one school or campus,
an entire school or campus listed on Form I-17B is unapprovable, or
part of a school or campus listed on Form I-17B is unapprovable.
When a program at an otherwise approvable school or school system is denied, the petitioner must be given a formal denial notice and the opportunity to appeal the decision.
General. At the option of the petitioner, a School system (including an elementary or secondary school system) within the same Service jurisdiction may file one or more Forms I-17. If a separate Form I 17 is filed for each school system School, then Form I-17B is not necessary. Furthermore, the school code suffix referred to in 8 CFR
and 8 CFR 214.2(m) (17) in such a case would be.000. The consecutively numbered school code suffixes are necessary only when one Form I-17 is used for more than one school or campus.
Colleges or universities with English language programs. At the option of the petitioner, an English language program operated by a college or university may distinguish itself from its parent school by listing it self as a separate school on Form I-17B if the school officials at the parent school and at the English program agree to do so.
School or campuses within a school system. The purpose of the school code suffix is to assign each school or campus within a school system a unique identifying number in STSC. Separate teaching institutions within a single campus (except at the elementary or secondary level)may, at the option of the petitioner, also qualify as schools within a school system, provided that their student enrollments and administrations are independent from those of the parent school. Each school or campus with a separate
computer -generated student status form, Form I-721, for purposes of complying with the report requirements of
8 CFR 214.3(g) (2)
and may list up to five designated officials on Form I-17A.
Updates to a school's record.
Change in designated school officials. Any changes in an approved school's designated officials must be reported by the school on Form I-17A to the District Director having jurisdiction over the school within 30 days of each change. A Form I-17A for a school system must list the name and school code suffix of each school or campus where the change is desired.
After review, the original Form I-17A will be sent to the Service data processing center to update STSC.
Change in ownership. If an approved school or school system changes ownership, if its approval will be automatically withdrawn 60 days after the change in ownership unless, during that period, if files a new petition for school approval on Form(s) I-17 with the appropriate fee, Form(s) I-17A and, if applicable, I-17B. The school must be notified if the approval is reaffirmed.
If a school or school system changes ownership while Form I-17 is pending, a new Form I-17 must be filed, with the appropriate fee, Form(s) I-17A and, if applicable, I-17B.
New determination regarding type of student for which approved.If a motion to reopen or reconsider a determination regarding the type of student for which a school is approved (F or M or both) is granted, the school must be notified of the decision on Form I-516. If the petition is for a school system, a copy of Form I-17B must be attached to Form I-516.
Change in schools or campuses. If an approved school system wishes approval for schools or campuses not listed on its initial Form I-17B, wishes to remove schools or campuses listed on its initial Form I-17B, or otherwise wishes to update or correct the information previously submitted on Form I-17B, it must submit a new Form I-17, without fee, accompanied by Form I-17B and, if applicable, Form(s) I-17A. If a previously approved school that was not a school system becomes a school system and wishes appro
val for additional school(s) or campus(es),it must submit a new Form I-17, without fee, and, if applicable, Forms I-17A and I-17B.
Other updates. If an approved school wishes to advise the Service of change in address or school term or to change in address or school term or to change the type of student for which it is approved (F or M or both), it must submit a new Form I-17, without fee, and, if applicable, Forms I-17A and/or I-17B.
Determinations regarding F or M classification.
8 CFR 214.3(a)(2)
provides for approval of a school for attendance of F-1 or M-1 students or both based , in large part, on the nature of the subject matter taught. If a student intends to pursue studies primarily in the liberal arts, fine arts language, religion, or the professions while pursuing a full course of study in the United States. the student is to be classified as an F-1 student. The term 'profession" in
8 CFR 214.3(a)(2)
is defined in Section
of the Act.
Form M-242. Form M-242, Immigration and Naturalization Service-Student and School seeking approval on Form I-17. It contains all sections of the regulations which designated officials must read prior to signing Forms I-17A.
Liaison with designated school officials and students. to establish and promote a meaningful relationship between the Service and designated officials and nonimmigrant students and to assure that the officials and students have maximum understanding of the law, regulations, and procedures relating to nonimmigrant students and approved schools, Service officers at field offices shall meet with designated officials and foreign students within their jurisdiction to the extent possible and as the worlkload pe
These meetings should be held at least once a year were practicable, preferably at the beginning of the school year. The officials and students in a friendly cordial, and sociable atmosphere conductive to promoting a mutual attitude of cooperation an assistance, their privileges and obligations and impress upon them the willingness of this Service to assist them with immigration matters.
Outreach workshops. The Director, outreach, Central Office, will assist in setting up student and school workshops wherever necessary, to the extent possible and as the workload permits to discuss regulations, procedures, and problems. To ensure that all approved schools within the jurisdiction in question are invited to participate in these workshops, lists of approved schools on record in STSC may be used. For assistance in setting up workshops, call the Director at (202) 633-4123.
International educational exchange. The United States Government is firmly committed to the value of international student exchange activities. Foreign students at American institutions constitute the future leadership of other nations.
Service officers are extremely influential in determining the attitudes of these students toward the United States Government through contact made with the students during their residence in the United States. Officers should therefore treat students appropriately.
In particular, the Service is concerned that officers convey a positive impression of the freedom and openness of American society, and the Government's commitment to the rule of law and due process. In all cases, nonimmigrant students are to be treated with the courtesy and respect due future leaders of government and business during their period of study in the United States. Service employees should exhibit sensitivity and courtesy particularly when it its necessary to deny a request or benefit.
8 CFR 214.3(g)(1)
requires that schools keep all records indicated in that section on all F-1 and M-1 students to whom it has issued forms I-20A-B or I-20M-N. If a student refuses to provide the school with the requested information a designated of the school should bring this to the attention of the Service. A Service officer may then request the necessary information pursuant to
8 CFR 214.1(f)
It should be noted that the address referred to in
8 CFR 214.3(g) (1) (iii)
means the address of the student's actual residence, not a P.O. Box.
It should also be noted that failure to comply with
8 CFR 214.3(g)(1)
without a subpoena is a ground withdrawal of a school's approval. 8 CFR 214.3(g)(1) requires that a designated official make the information and documents required by this regulation available to and furnish them to any Service officer upon request. The request may be verbal or in writing.
Reporting a student's social security number.
8 CFR 214.3(g)(2)
requires that schools furnish reports on the student status form, Form I-721, on all F-1 and M-1 students attending the schools whether or not they issue Forms I-20 to them. See OI 214.2(f)(46), (47), and (48) regarding Form I-721.
Reporting a student's social security number. The Service's General Counsel has advised that a Service-approved school's approval is not subject to withdrawal under 8 CFR 214.4(a)(1)(i) for failure to reveal a student's social security number without a subpoena. Under
8 CFR 214.3(g)(1)(xii)
, an approved school is required to maintain for each student "information specified by the Service as necessary to identify the student, such as date and place of birth, and to determine the student's immigration status". Since there is presently no specific requirement that social security numbers be maintained, there is no requirement under
8 CFR 214.3(g)(1)(xii)
that they be furnished to an immigration officer upon request.
Guidelines for Service officers in requesting information from designated school officials.
Student consent. It should be noted that all F-1 and M-1 students must sign certifications on page 2 of Forms I-20A-B or I-20M-N containing the statement."I authorize the named school, and any school to which I transfer, to release any information from my records which is needed to determine if I am maintaining the lawful status in which I was admitted to the United States". Therefore , even if the school which the student is attending did not issue a Form I-20 to the student, if the student transferred
to that school after having signed the above statement on a Form I-20 from another school, the school which the student is attending is authorized to release information necessary to determine the student's immigration status.
Family Educational Rights and privacy Act.
Legal requirements. Service officers should note that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 USC 1232g, 1974), or Buckley Amendment, protects student records from unauthorized disclosures and constrains school officials from releasing information from student records in certain cases. Furthermore, a record of disclosure is required under the law. Educational institutions must comply with these statutes under threat of loss of funds from the Department of Education.
General Counsel's advisory opinion. The Service's General Counsel has advised that the Consent which an F-1 or M-1 student executes on page 2 of form I-20 is an effective method of insulating a school from an allegation that it is violation of the Buckley Amendment. Once the consent is in existence, and it is assumed the consent exists for an F-1 or M-1 student or the
Service would not have accepted Form I-20, neither the school officer needs physical possession of the consent when a request for information under the reporting requirements is made.
Concerns of some designated school officials. In spite of the above, some regarding the release of information about students to whom they have not issued Forms I-20. Since promoting cooperative relationships between designated school officials and Service officers will enhance the effectiveness of the foreign student program, Service officers should be aware of these concerns. While it is expected that problems in this area will normally be resolved at the district office level, assistance may be reque
sted from Central Office Adjudications through the regional office.
Voluminous requests for information. Officers should keep in mind that asking for information on large numbers of students at a school is quite burdensome to that school. Officers should therefore ask designated officials only for that information which they need and which they are unable to obtain from STSC screens and regular or ad hoc reports.
Making requests in writing. To the extent possible, officers should make requests for information from designated officials in writing and allow a reasonable amount of time for a response. It is suggested that the format and wording in the sample request which appears in the Appendix to this OI be used in making written request.
Review of school approvals.
Frequency. The review of school approvals required by
8 CFR 214.3(h)
must be conducted in a regular basis. Each school file must be reviewed at least once every two years.
Brief review. In the case of a public school or school system or a private school or school system of long-standing and unquestioned reputation, where there is no derogatory information relating to the school in the school file or the school record in STSC and no useful purpose would be served by an extensive review, the reviewing officer shall simply review the school file and school records in STSC and update the school's records in STSC to indicate that a review has been done.
In-depth review. In any other case the reviewing officer shall send a Form I-157 to the school with Forms I-17, I-17A, and if applicable, I-17B. The school must then file a petition for continuation of its approval without fee. If the approval is reaffirmed, the school must be notified of the action taken.
(Entire 214.3 revised TM 6/85
Issuance of Forms I-20.
whether schools are required to issue Forms I-20. Service regulations do not require that schools accept nonimmigrant students and issue Forms I-20A and I-20M to them since this matter is not within the jurisdiction of this Service. Any school or school system seeking approval or attendance of nonimmigrant students must file a petition with this Service. If the petition is approved, a designated official of the school or school system may issue form I-20A and I-20M.
Issuance of Forms I-20 to individuals other than F-1 or M-1 students. Forms I-20 are to be issued only to aliens who are F-1 or M-1 students or who are seeking F-1 or M-1 status.
Charging fees for issuance of Forms I-20. Once the appropriate school authority has determined that the prospective F-1 or M-1 student's qualifications meet all standards for admission, and the official responsible for admission at the school has accepted the student for enrollment in a full course of study after compliance with the other conditions of
8 CFR 214.3(k)
, a designated official of the school must issue a Form I-20. Since the regulation provides that the official must issue the form, requiring the payment of a fee for its issuance is a violation of Service regulations.
Furthermore, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice has advised that the possibility exists that a designated official who charges a fee for an accepted student to obtain Form I-20 may be in violation of 18 U.S.C. 291(c), which makes it a Federal claim for a public official to exact anything of value in the performance of an official to exact anything of value in the performance of an official act.
Issuance of provisional Forms I-20. The provisional issuance of Forms I-20 is a violation of
8 CFR 214.3(k)
. According to that regulation. a designated school official may not issue a Form I-20 until the appropriate school authority has determined that the prospective student's qualifications meet all standards for admission at the school which has accepted the prospective student for enrollment in a full course of study.
Written application to school.
8 CFR 214.3(k)
requires, in part, that a prospective student personally make a written application to a school prior to issuance of Form I-20A or I-20M. The only exceptions permitted are that:
An application may be made in behalf of a scholarship student by an official agency of the student's government such as the ministry of education and
The application may be made in behalf of a student by the student's parent or legal guardian.
Centralized issuance of Forms I-20 by school system under than one jurisdiction.
8 CFR 214.3(a)(1)
requires the same school system located within the jurisdiction of different district directors. The centralized issuance of Forms I-20A-B or I 20M-N to bona fide nonimmigrant students by a designated official of such a school system is permitted when the following conditions have been met:
The designated official(s) responsible for signing Forms I-20 is/are aware of, and can certify awareness of, all costs incurred by students at all approved schools within the school system.
There is compliance with all requirements of
8 CFR 214.3(k)