Suspicious Timing of SEVIS Undergoing “Scheduled Maintenance” until February 5, 2019
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which is used by DHS to maintain information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors, is undergoing “scheduled maintenance” beginning Friday, February 1, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. EST to Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 8 a.m. EST. During this time, the SEVIS system will be inaccessible, and students and Designated School Officials (DSOs) will not be able to issue or change I-20s.
While this is being sold as “scheduled maintenance” it is very suspicious timing given the fact that February 5th is 180 days from the August 9th memo. As our firm has previously mentioned, the August 9th memo created a policy for the government to count F-1 unlawful presence starting on August 9th for violations of F-1 status that occurred before August 9th. Given that the unlawful presence could be retroactive to August 9th regardless of when the determination of the violation of status was made, nonimmigrant students could face a 3-year ban from the country starting on February 5, 2019.
During this schedule maintenance, and in light of USCIS and ICE’s crackdown on Day 1 CPT and other student visa violations, it is possible that ICE will be reviewing the data for any issues. During this “scheduled maintenance” students will not be able to get new I-20s to transfer to new schools, get I-20s endorsed for travel, or have their DSO correct any issues with the I-20. This could create a major issue for students that were planning to transfer to another college from a Day 1 CPT school or were planning on leaving the US prior to February 5th and come back to the US to complete their studies.
Our firm has received reports that some students from the Farmington University have been requesting voluntary departure have not been allowed to do so and are not being allowed to voluntarily depart before February 5th. There are generally two methods nonimmigrant students can take to voluntary depart. First, if they received a Notice to Appear (NTA) or are arrested, they can attend the deportation proceedings. At this time they can request voluntary departure pursuant to 8. USC § 1229(c). This allows DHS (prior to the initiation of removal proceedings) or an immigration judge (after the initiation of removal proceedings) to approve an alien’s request to be granted the privilege of voluntary departure in lieu of being ordered removed from the United States. The second method for voluntary departure is only an option if you have not received a NTA. If you have not received a NTA, a nonimmigrant student can leave the country on their own volition. Again, this method is only available if the nonimmigrant has not received an NTA. Leaving the country with a pending NTA can result in major repercussions for the nonimmigrant student.
Our firm will keep informing people as more information comes out on the impact of this “scheduled maintenance.”
By: Rahul Reddy & Steven Brown
Rahul is the founding partner of Reddy & Neumann P.C. His practice covers employment-based immigration, in which he represents corporate clients in far-ranging industries.
Steven Brown is an attorney in the firm’s H-1B Department and represents our business clients throughout the entire H-1B, H-4, and H-4 EAD process. Additionally, Steven works with clients with Department of Labor Compliance included assistance with wage and hours investigations. Steven prides himself in being able to provide his clients with creative solutions to complex immigration problems.