An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is enrolled in a full course of study with the purpose of achieving a specific educational or professional goal in a United States academic institution that has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses of study to these students, and that has registered on SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The F-1 category is mainly governed by the following regulations: INA 101 (a) (15) (F) (Immigration and Nationality Act) 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (General provisions for F-1 students), 8 CFR 214.3 (Approval of schools for enrollment of F and M nonimmigrants and school compliance), and 8 CFR 214.4 (Withdrawal of school approval). INA 101 (a) (15) (F) also specifies the provisions that apply to F-2 dependents and F-3 border students.
The F-1 student program and SEVIS are managed by the Department of Homeland Security, mainly by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, along with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are in charge of F-1 student status, restoring status, and some job and practical training applications.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the DHS office responsible for developing and managing SEVIS, as well as generating policy and regulations that apply to the school and the F-1 student. The program also ensures that both the student and school comply with these regulations.
The following shows the structural hierarchy of SEVP inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (ICE)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Homeland Security Investigation (HSI)
- National Security Investigations Division
- Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)