Advisors in the International Programs Office are here to assist you with concerns about your immigration status. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes it is YOUR responsibility to understand the rules for your immigration status while you stay in the United States. If you do not follow the rules, you could lose your immigration status, which means you are no longer a legal student in the United States.

The following tabs provide most of the information you need to know as an international student:

Special Announcements

When the International Programs Office receives important information from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we will include it here.

Currently, there are no special updates.

Immigration Advising Services

The International Programs (IP) Office provides immigration advising to all international students at Seattle Central. If you have quick immigration-related questions, you may ask for assistance at the front desk, or speak with an advisor during walk-in hours. In some cases, you may need to complete a form and wait for an answer once it is processed. If you have questions that require more assistance, or are submitting an application for immigration services (OPT, reinstatement, etc.), then you may need to make an appointment with your primary advisor.

Visit the Forms and Links tab for the most updated immigration related forms.

Role of the Immigration Advisor

The advisors in the IP Office will do their best to help you understand the regulations you must follow as an international student. Please remember that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes it is your responsibility to understand the rules for your immigration status while you stay in the United States. If you do not follow the rules, you may be "out of status", which means you are no longer a legal student in the United States and must return home. It is very important that you seek assistance from an advisor if you are unsure of what you must do to maintain your status.

A note of caution: if you have any questions about immigration regulations or staying in status, do not ask your friends for advice! Please bring your questions to the IP Office so we can do our best to assist you with up-to-date immigration information.

Overview of DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the government agency that regulates U.S. customs and immigration processes, monitors non-U.S. citizens who seek to enter the United States, and enforces border inspection.

The Department of Homeland Security is divided into three bureaus:

- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) – Responsible for inspecting persons seeking to enter the United States.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – Reviews petitions for adjustment of visa status, reinstatements, citizenship and requests for other services.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) – Responsible for immigration investigations, detention and deportation, and SEVIS database management.

F and M visa students will likely have some kind of interaction with these bureaus during the time that they are in the United States.


The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) oversees monitoring of international students on F, M and J visas in the United States. SEVP does this using a database called the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each international student on an F, M or J visa has a record in SEVIS, which holds information on the student’s personal information (name, date of birth, citizenship, home / local address, etc.), the student’s program of study, and the student’s financial support.

Advisor Responsibility to DHS

In order for Seattle Central to enroll international students, advisors must report information on students to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Advisors maintain communication with all three branches of DHS, but most reporting is done through SEVIS. Advisors regularly update information in student records in SEVIS, including the following:

- Enrollment status
- Approval for reduced enrollment (less than full time)
- Approval for benefits such as vacation quarters or off-campus employment
- Student transfer to other institutions
- Violations of student status (usually involves termination of student records)

In addition, advisors are required to give information on individual students or groups of students to the Department of Homeland Security if it is requested.

Once advisors have updated a student’s immigration record or responded to a specific query, they have met the requirements of DHS. Advisors will not generally contact Homeland Security directly if a student violates the rules of his / her F-1 status. Once the student’s record is updated, it is up to USICE to investigate and be in touch with the student. Advisors are not police officers, so they cannot arrest students for status violations.

Immigration Forms

Returning Student Record Update Form
Change of Program/Major & Extension Request Form
Going Home Notice
Reduced Courseload Request
SEVIS Release / Transfer Out Request
Vacation Request (online form via SCDGlobal)
Medical Verification Form
Curricular Practical Training Request *
Optional Practical Training Request *

* If you are interested in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), it is highly recommended that you attend our employment workshop.

Government Links

The U.S. Department of State
  - Obtaining Visa
  - Guide to U.S. Higher Education
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  - Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (USCBP)
  - Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  - Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE)
  - SEVP Student Guide
The U.S. Internal Revenue Services
The U.S. Social Security Administration

Related Links:

Foreign Embassies and Consulates in the U.S.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide