SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a nationwide, Internet-based system that the U.S. government uses to maintain accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2).
You are first entered into SEVIS by a Designated School Official (DSO) at HCC when your initial Form I-20 is created. When your initial I-20 is printed out, it comes with a barcode and a unique SEVIS ID number. This SEVIS ID should stay with you for as long as you study continuously in the U.S., even if you change your major or transfer to a new school. (If you are out of the U.S. for more than five consecutive months, then you will need a new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.).
When you enter the U.S., your arrival is recorded in SEVIS at your port of entry. After you begin your studies in the U.S., SEVIS maintains personal information about you and your academic status. In other words, SEVIS tracks whether you are maintaining F-1 status. The designated school officials (DSO’s) are required by law to enter the following information about each F-1 student:
The Form I-20 is an official U.S. government form. A prospective nonimmigrant student must have a Form I-20 issued by an SEVP-certified school in order to become an F-1 student.
Only an SEVP-certified school can issue a Form I-20 to students that have been accepted for enrollment. It acts as proof of acceptance and contains the information that is needed to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee; apply for a visa or change of status, and admission into the United States.
The Form I-20 has the student’s unique SEVIS identification (ID) number on the upper right hand side directly above the barcode.