DHS Launches Web Initiative for Students and Exchange Visitors

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an initiative intended to encourage bright international students to study in the U.S. The initiative, entitled Study in the States, sets forth the goals of examining and improving upon existing student and exchange visitor programs. The most immediate benefit for prospective and current students and exchange visitors is a new web portal with extensive information and resources.

Study in the States Initiative: Keeping the U.S. Competitive

The Study-in-the-States initiative reflects a recognition that the United States needs to attract international talent to maintain our competitive edge, particularly in the areas of scientific and technological innovation. Thus, efforts are underway to create policies and procedures that will strike a balance between welcoming students and exchange visitors, while addressing security concerns and system integrity.

Prospective Students Can Select Schools

The website provides information for prospective students to help them locate appropriate schools and navigate the F-1 and M-1 student application processes. Information on authorized J-1 programs and procedures is also available for exchange visitors. For additional practical help in selecting schools, students may review our August 1, 2011 NewsBrief, Factors for F-1 Students to Consider in Selecting a College or University.

Current Students Can Obtain Information on Common Scenarios

Students and exchange visitors often have questions about maintaining status, and changing programs. The web portal addresses these issues, as well as common questions about employment authorization and travel. Much of this information is specific and should help students and exchange visitors avoid common pitfalls. There are instructions on when to report to school and what to do if one is having academic difficulties. Students are directed to speak with the Designated School Official (DSO) when facing any challenges. There is also an eMail address provided for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. It generally is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to discuss status issues or other problems.

SEVIS to Become Paperless

The website contains some further information on future changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The SEVIS system will, sometime in the future, become a paperless system. This will allow greater transparency and access both to students and exchange visitors as well as to the relevant government agencies. More on this matter can be found on the Study in the States SEVIS II page.


Efforts to improve upon the existing F-1, M-1, and J-1 procedures, and recognition of the value of foreign students to the U.S. economy are positive steps in the right direction. This is a welcome change from experiences of earlier this year, when many international students were treated poorly following the closure of Tri-Valley University (TVU). We at the Murthy Law Firm are available to help foreign students and exchange visitors with their questions, or with situations not addressed on the Study in the States website.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.