Certain ESL and STEM OPT Students are Affected by ACICS Loss of Accreditation
The U.S. Department of Education announced that it no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (“ACICS”) as an accrediting agency. This decision affects more than 16,000 international students attending approximately 130 SEVP certified schools and programs. This determination immediately affects two immigration-related programs:
• English as a Second Language (“ESL”) study programs, and
• F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension.
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”) will provide guidance to affected students in notification letters, should their schools’ certification be withdrawn. ACICS-accredited ESL programs must take action if they wish to remain SEVP-certified and continue enrolling international students. However, if ACICS-accredited schools voluntarily withdraw from SEVP certification or will not provide evidence in lieu of accreditation for programs, international students at these schools will have 18 months to either transfer for a new SEVP-certified program, or continue their program until the end of current sessions, and depart from the United States.
We strongly encourage all affected international students who do not wish to leave the United States, to contact our office immediately. Our attorneys will assist with transferring students’ applications, or suggest you other visa alternatives. If affected students would not take any actions within the 18-month grace period, SEVP will terminate the SEVIS records and those individuals will loose their legal status in the country.