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International Compliance

International and Immigration Compliance

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Laws and Regulations




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SUNY International Policies and Procedures

SUNY Policy for International Programs in Sensitive Areas, Document No. 1550.
International programs involving study abroad, formal exchanges of faculty, staff or students, or international assistance which are conducted as official programs of the State University of New York (University) or any of its entities are subject to review and approval by the chancellor or designee.  Each campus should establish a mechanism for the review of all proposed University international programs to determine that they are in conformity with the guidelines before formal approval and initiation. The mechanism shall be determined by the campus president with the advice of the appropriate campus faculty body. Existing and ongoing programs need be reviewed only if there appears to be a clear indication that they may no longer be in conformity with the guidelines. While it is expected that campus review will suffice in most cases, campuses are asked to provide information to the office of international programs, system administration, at the conclusion of each review.

SUNY Procedure, Health Insurance Coverage for International Exchange, Research & Study Programs, Document No. 3750.
This procedure provides campus guidelines on the requirement of insurance coverage for all individuals participating in international exchange, research and study programs.

SUNY Procedure, Study Abroad Programs, Document No. 7010.
International programs involving study abroad, formal exchanges of faculty, staff or students, or international assistance, conducted as official programs of the State University of New York (University) or any of its entities are subject to review and approval by the University chancellor or designee.  The tuition and study abroad program (SAP) fees and charges should be administered in accordance with the procedure.

SUNY Clery and Title IX Procedure for International Programs - The SUNY Council on International Education had adopted a new SUNY Clery and Title IX Procedure for International Programs that helps to clarify the reporting obligations and protocols for Clery Act crime reporting and Title IX protocols for SUNY’s international programs and overseas activities. The Memorandum and Procedure are available here.


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SUNY Guidance and Resources

NACUA Note Reporting on Student Safety and Security Abroad 2015‌, National Association of College and University Attorneys Annual Conference, Joseph Storch and Natalie Mello, Washington, DC (June 30, 2015).

International Background Check Guidance 2015, sent June 23 to campuses.
This 2015 memorandum from the SUNY Office of Global Affairs provides informaiton and guidance about the new compliance requirement whereby institutions must conduct criminal background checks every four years on those employees who hold the role of Responsible Officer (RO) and Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO), roles defined within the statute.  This is required as part of changes in the Code of Federal Regulations Department of State requirements for criminal background checks pertaining to Exchange Visitor Programs.

VAWA Customizable Visa and Immigration Resource
This document, a collaborative effort of attorneys and professionals from institutions across the country, is a plain language explanation of visa and immigration options for students who are victims or survivors of sexual or interpersonal violence. The resource is available to SUNY institutions and higher education institutions throughout the country.  The resource web site includes two methods for customizing the document with automatic translation into all available languages.  Institutions may use the Excel form/spreadsheet or the Google Docs method.  Step-by-step instructions are included on the web site.

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SUNY Websites

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References to Best Practices & Other Supplemental Material

Oversight Agency Guidance Information

Web Resources:


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International and Immigration Information and Resources

I-9 Form, Employment Eligibility Verification

All U.S. employers are required to complete Form I-9 for new employees, regardless of the type of position or the citizenship of the employee.  Information below comes from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website

USCIS 'ELIS'- Electronic Immigration System and Nonimmigrant Students

The USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) allows eligible foreign exchange students to e-file a Form I-539 application to extend, change or reinstate their nonimmigrant status.

USCIS ELIS is a Web-based system that allows applicants, their attorneys and accredited representatives to create an online account and submit and track immigration benefit requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Certain customers can now apply online for an extension of their nonimmigrant stay or a change of status to another nonimmigrant category using USCIS ELIS. USCIS will add additional benefit types to USCIS ELIS in future releases.

SEVIS - I-20

Foreign exchange students will receive a Form I-20 from the Designated School Official (DSO) of the educational institution that accepted the student to study in the United States. That student must have a Form I-20 to apply for a visa, to enter the United States, and to apply for benefits.

What's New In Compliance with the I-20

SEVP’s Final Guidance on Conditional Admission:

Purpose/Background: This guidance interprets the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status,” issuance regulation for prospective F-1 and M-1 students1 (8 CFR 214.3(k)) to guide SEVP adjudicators, and prohibits universities from issuing I-20 forms (the legal document that international students need in order to apply for visas) based on conditional admission.
Please note there is also a section in the Advisor’s Manual under 3.B.2.3.2 Conditional admission and bridge programs: discussion that also offers guidance.  

Exerpt from an Inside Higher Education Article:

"The guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program states that universities can only issue I-20 forms when students have met all admission requirements for the program of study listed, including English language proficiency requirements. This would mean, for example, that a university couldn't issue an I-20 for a degree program for a student whose admission into that program is conditional upon completing an English language program first. Instead the university would have to list the English language program on the student’s initial I-20 and issue an updated form after the student progresses into the degree program."

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the National Security Investigations Division of the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. 

What is SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)?
(from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, which features information and resources)

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the Web-based system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to maintain information on Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools, F-1 and M-1 students who come to the United States to attend those schools, U.S. Department of State-designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsors and J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program participants. It is a critical tool in our mission to protect national security while supporting the legal entry of more than one million F, M and J nonimmigrants to the United States for education and cultural exchange.

Schools use SEVIS to petition SEVP for certification, which allows the school to offer programs of study to nonimmigrant students. Designated school officials of SEVP-certified schools use SEVIS to:

Exchange Visitor programs use SEVIS to petition the Department of State for designation that allows the sponsor to offer educational and cultural exchange programs to exchange visitors. Responsible officers of designated Exchange Visitor programs use SEVIS to:

Helpful SEVIS Resources:

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Visas and Students From Iran

New federal legislation signed by President Obama on August 10, 2012 excludes visa issuance and entry into the United States by Iranian citizens seeking to study in the US related to the nuclear and energy sectors of Iran. 

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The information contained on the SUNY Compliance website is for general campus guidance only and is not intended, nor can be relied upon, as legal advice or the imposition on SUNY campuses of specific policies or requirements. The site is intended to be an informational-only clearinghouse for some of the laws, rules, and regulations that may impact the State University of New York’s campuses. Additionally, given the rapid, changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be delays or omissions contained on this site which therefore cannot be relied upon as complete. For complete compliance information, consult your campus compliance officials. For legal advice, consult your lawyer.