Understanding SEVIS

SEVIS stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an electronic system by which student and scholar data is transmitted directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On October 1, 2001, a U.S. law passed called the "Patriot Act" mandated schools to use SEVIS to report certain data on individuals to the government.

Please note: Certain students and scholars are required to pay a SEVIS Fee when applying for a new visa stamp to enter the U.S. or when applying to change to F-1 or J-1 status within the U.S.

There are three main components of SEVIS: 

  1. Production of the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019)
  2. Maintaining current F-1 and J-1 records
  3. Reporting events

Visa Document Production at UC Berkeley

To create an I-20 or DS-2019, a Designated School Official (DSO) or an Alternate Responsible Official (ARO) in Berkeley International Office must enter the information into the client database. The new document requests are uploaded to SEVIS on a daily basis. The I-20 or DS-2019 are processed and transmitted back as pdf files. The documents are printed, signed and prepared for delivery to the student or scholar.

Reporting Events

The University is required by law to notify SEVIS of certain "events" during a student or scholar's stay in the U.S. The requirements are slightly different for each category:

   STUDENT event information  

  • I-20 (F-1) or a DS-2019 (J-1) information
  • Registration and full-time enrollment every semester (although summer enrollment
    is usually optional, in certain situations full-time enrollment is required)
  • Current local, residential address
  • Change of major or degree level
  • Withdrawal from the study program before completion
  • Completion of the study program
  • Extensions of the I-20 or DS-2019 to complete the study program
  • F-1 CPT employment
  • F-1 OPT (periods of employment and unemployment)
  • J-1 on-campus employment and Academnic Training

   SCHOLAR event information  

  • DS-2019 information
  • Confirmation of arrival
  • Current local, residential address
  • Extensions of the program
  • Completion of the program before the end date of the DS-2019

Students and scholars are urged to make note of these reportable events and seek advising before making any changes that may affect their status.