SEVIS is the "Student and Exchange Visitor Information System." Mandated by federal regulation, SEVIS is a government tracking system that allows various agencies of the U.S. government (overseas U.S. consulates, border patrol agents at the U.S. borders and airports, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies) to see up-to-date information about international students and scholars in F, J, and M visa status, their academic activities, and their accompanying family members.
In order to issue Forms DS-2019 for J-1 scholars and their accompanying family members, the International Scholars Office (ISchO) must enter data into SEVIS. These data include information about the scholar's upcoming MIT appointment (dates, funding sources, field of research or teaching), as well as biographical information about the scholar and accompanying family members. After entering the data in SEVIS, the ISchO issues a J-1 Form DS-2019 for the scholar and J-2 Forms DS-2019 for any accompanying family members, which they must then take to a U.S. Consulate to apply for their entry visa stamps after the scholar pays the required SEVIS fee. SEVIS Fee FAQ
Upon entry to the United States and arrival at MIT, all international scholars must register with the ISchO. This is especially important for J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents. The regulations say that the ISchO must "validate" their program participation by reporting their arrival in SEVIS. Individuals who are in the United States but whose records have not been "validated" within 30 days of the start date on the Form DS-2019 are subject to immigration enforcement.
If an incoming scholar knows that his/her visa will be delayed and/or that he/she cannot arrive by the start date on the DS-2019, that scholar should contact the inviting MIT department, laboratory, or center to let them know the new anticipated date of arrival. The department, laboratory, or center will confer with the ISchO. The ISchO will then update the start date in SEVIS and decide if a new Form DS-2019 should be issued.
Federal regulations require that other "events" be reported in SEVIS on an on-going basis during the period of J-1 and J-2 stay in the United States. Changes in department, funding, work location(s), residential address, and contact information must be reported to the ISchO. The ISchO will enter the required information in SEVIS and determine if a revised Form DS-2019 should be issued.
Early departure from MIT (prior to the end date on Form DS-2019), change to a different visa type, or change to a different employer must also be reported to the ISchO. Early departures will be reported in SEVIS. A change in J-1 sponsor will require that the "transfer" process be done through SEVIS.
MIT hosts over 1000 J-1 Exchange Visitors each year. The ISchO must comply with SEVIS regulations or its J-1 program will be revoked. We therefore appreciate Institute-wide cooperation with regard to foreign nationals. The requirement that information and changes be entered into SEVIS in "real-time" makes it impossible for us to accommodate imprecise information, retroactive actions, retroactive leaves, or processing scholars' terminations long after the actual end date of MIT affiliation.
Page updated March 2023