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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Q & A: What is "SEVIS"?

When thinking about the Student work stream, many people can easily name admissions, financial aid, and student records. Less frequently named is a very important module for our international students and scholars: SEVIS. We asked the SEVIS team a few questions about what they do and how ESUP has affected their work. 

What is “SEVIS”? Does that stand for something?

Yes, SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a system maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track and monitor schools; F and M students, and J-1 exchange visitor program participants (those here for education and cultural exchange) while they visit the United States and participate in the U.S. education system. To remain compliant with federal immigration regulations, the University electronically transfers information on F and J visa holders daily. All of this work is coordinated by the University’s, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

There are a lot of international students and scholars. That seems like an important job. 

It is. ISSS serves the University’s 7,395 international students and scholars on the Twin Cities Campus. Not only do we report on all international students and scholars to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, we offer immigration advising which helps our students and scholars to navigate the complicated U.S. visa regulations. We provide both personal and academic counseling so that we may help our students to be academically successful. We have numerous programs that help to engage our student and scholar population with the rest of the University community. We also seek to encourage “Internationalization at Home” through outreach we provide in the form of presentations, trainings, and collaborative initiatives. We’re able to accomplish all of this with a relatively small amount of people by taking advantage of technology to automate several processes. Although ISSS primarily serves the Twin Cities international student and scholar population, we provide technical assistance and support for the entire University system.

That’s great! So does that mean PeopleSoft has this all taken care of?

Not exactly. Because SEVIS reporting is a federal requirement, PeopleSoft has some functionality, but it’s not a good fit “as-is” for an institution of our size. To use what PeopleSoft offers, we would need to increase our staffing levels. The modifications we made to our current system allow us to be more efficient. We’ll be using those same modifications in the upgraded system. 

What has been a big win for SEVIS because of ESUP?

Analyzing our processes and evaluating our options. By taking this time, we found a few modifications that we could eliminate because they didn’t fit our needs. We also explored using functionality available in the HRMS 9.2 system. The visa page within HRMS is a better option than the one offered in the Student system (CS, or “Campus Solutions”). We found a way to use that page and ensure the information would populate in both the HR and the Student databases. 

How will that affect students and users of the system?

People outside of ISSS should not notice any changes. 

Details about changes to the SEVIS module can be found on “What’s Changing?”


  1. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will definitely be a great help for the international student fraternity. Thanks for posting the details.

  2. "People outside of ISSS should not notice any changes."
    Does this mean that administrators on coordinate campuses who work with F1, J1, or J2 visa students are not able to access SEVIS data through the upgraded system?