The Department of Homeland Security will be updating their Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) on Monday, February 4. Due to the update, SEVIS will not be available to F-1 students or DSO’s from TODAY, Feb. 1, 2019, at 6 p.m. EST to Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, at 8 a.m. EST. During the outage, it will not be possible to access the system to input and/or update records. No processing of requests or documents will be available. Expect longer processing times for any actions needed and time-sensitive requests, especially Travel Signature Requests and Reprints of your I-20 will not be possible. Access to your SEVIS record will not be available for any reason, including emergencies. The I-901 Fee payments will also not be able to be made during this time.
The reason for the SEVIS outage is for scheduled maintenance. However, the timing of this outage is extremely suspect in light of the August 9th Memo on Unlawful Presence. Remember, the memo IS currently in effect, but the true impact of the memo will not be felt until, you guessed it… February 5, 2019, which is 180 days from the date the memo took effect.
In August 2018, USCIS posted the final version of the Policy Memorandum that changes how USCIS calculates unlawful presence for F-1 students in “duration of status.” This calculation is important because too much unlawful presence can eventually lead to “inadmissibility,” meaning the individual can be barred from entering or remaining in the United States.
Prior to August 9, 2018, in the event that USCIS formally found a violation of F-1 status, the student would not begin accruing unlawful presence until the day after the decision was made.
Now, if an F-1 student is found by DHS to have failed to maintain status, he or she will begin accruing unlawful presence on the day after he or she engaged in the unauthorized activity that caused the status violation. For students who receive a determination from DHS indicating that they were violating status prior to when the memo took effect, they will have been accruing unlawful presence since August 9, 2018. More on the unlawful presence memo here: http://immigrationgirl.com/august-9th-unlawful-presence-memo-is-in-effect-for-f-1-students-what-exactly-does-it-do/
Starting this evening, students and DSO’s will be unable to access SEVIS during the final days of the 180-day period. It is unknown what maintenance the system will be undergoing during this critical time. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but the timing of this action makes me raise my eyebrows.