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Designated School Officials: What International Students Need to Know

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High school senior and tennis scholarship recruit Andjela Vukcevic from Serbia is looking forward to beginning her undergraduate studies this fall at Rockhurst University in Missouri. Like other international students studying at U.S. colleges, she will need to report to the school's designated school official, or DSO, to maintain her immigration status.

Every school certified by the U.S. government's Student and Exchange Visitor Program to enroll international students has at least one staff member who serves in the DSO role.

"My international education consultant has advised me to keep in close touch with my DSO," Vukcevic says.

What Is a DSO?

Designated school officials serve as liaisons between international students, the school and the U.S. government. DSOs issue necessary immigration forms, guide students through the process of studying in the U.S., maintain records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, known as SEVIS, and more.

"Students coming to the U.S. through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program to study at an SEVP-certified school generally must apply for either an F or M visa with the U.S. Department of State," Jonathan Moor, public affairs specialist with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security, wrote in an email.

Typically, prospective international students apply for an F-1 academic student visa or M-1 vocational student visa at a U.S. embassy or consular office in their home country. To do so, they need a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, a key document that is issued by their university's DSO and normally physically mailed to students. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, DSOs are allowed to email a student a scanned copy of the I-20, Moor says.

"ICE has extended the guidance allowing electronic issuance of the Form I-20 through the duration of the 2021-2022 academic year," Moor says. This means DSOs can send the I-20 -- a form used throughout an international student's studies in the U.S. -- via student emails listed in SEVIS, or if the student is a minor, to his or her parent or legal guardian, he says.

Moor says international students seeking to defer their program start date listed on their I-20, "should speak with their designated school official as soon as possible to receive an updated Form I-20 with a new program start date." He says international students cannot defer their program start date once they've entered the U.S.

Read more here - https://news.yahoo.com/designated-school-officials-international-students-143826886.html 

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