There have been lot of frantic discussions on the blog with various sorts of information from students who have called help desk, talked to DSOs, what they see in SEVIS. There have been some recent changes with SEVIS and recent launch of SEVP Portal this year that make some of these changes automatic. Let’s look at the details.
Background : There are three things, SEVP, SEVIS and SEVP Portal. It is important to know the details.
- Firstly, SEVP is the Student and Exchange Visitors Program ( SEVP). This is the program name and not a software system.
- SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)and is used by SEVP, DHS. “SEVIS is the web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors US, which is primary software for DHS and it tracks and monitors non-immigrant students and exchange visitors.” SEVIS is used by Designated School Officials (DSO), who are also called as international student advisors for issuing I-20s, updating statuses of international students for events like CPT, OPT, cap gap extensions.
- SEVP Portal is the tool that is available to post completion OPT students and STEM OPT extension students to report their address changes, phone number changes, employment changes. Either students can use SEVP portal to update the changes or ask DSO to do it for them. SEVIS and SEVP Portal share data. Student data is immediately updated from SEVP Portal to SEVIS system. But, DSO changed data in SEVIS is update to SEVP Portal once a day. SEVP Portal sends an email from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov to create an account for the student, when the OPT is in approved status in SEVIS, OPT start date is not in future and student’s email ID is maintained SEVIS. DSO cannot directly access SEVP portal, but they manage many things like unlocking accounts, change email IDs, re-send the SEVP portal registration email, see report of changes, identify students. SEVP Portal is very new and introduced by SEVP on Feb 26, 2018.
Let’s first look at the SEVIS system that is used by DSO. Before we go into details, one very important part is, the below SEVIS info applies to only “Cap Gap eligible F1 students on Post Completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension”, which means it applies to students who have OPT ending date before September 30th and who have filed a H1B petition.
How does SEVIS system work for Cap Gap Extensions and H1B Petitions Changes ?
As you can see below screenshot from DHS website, SEVIS gets H1B petition data automatically from USCIS and updates the records in SEVIS to show the cap gap extension. But, systems are not always consistent with integration and data flows, there can be issues where a student’s H1B petition info was not sent properly from USCIS to SEVIS system and it does not get updated. In that context, DSO can manually request a cap gap extension for H1B petitions that are filed , waitlisted or rejected by USCIS.
What happens to F1 status, OPT end date during Cap Gap in SEVIS with H1B Petition Changes?
You have few possible options for your H1B petition like Filed, Pending, Approved, Rejected and Waitlisted statuses. Check the screenshot below and read the below section.
- H1B Filed Only – No lottery Result indicated : If the system extends your OPT end date to June 1st, it only tells that your H1B petition was filed, but does not tell anything about H1B Lottery result. So, this state clearly does not tell your H1B Lottery result.
- H1B Lottery Selected/ Pending Processing / Approved : The OPT end date in SEVIS system will be updated to September 30th, if it is either approved or in pending status by USCIS. What it means is that your case was selected in the lottery and is either being processed or approved.
These details are visible in SEVIS system to DSO and these also are replicated to SEVP Portal. We will look at SEVP portal later.
As we mentioned earlier, not all times the data is transferred properly and there may be scenarios where SEVIS system is not updated automatically based on H1B status from USCIS. Below are the three statuses a DSO can update the system based on information provided by Student.
If your OPT cap gap is before June 1st and the system is not updated, you can send your Fedex Receipt and application info from Attorney/ employer and ask your DSO to update the status to filed and have your F1 status updated to June 1st. Depending on the result of Lottery and case notice details, you can subsequently work with DSO and update these details in SEVIS.
SEVIS Data Fix : If DSO has issues updating the system after he learns from the student, they should call SEVIS help desk for a data fix as shown below. Once DSO calls or emails SEVIS they will get a help desk ticket with a reference number. This can be used to expedite the request, if there are any urgent issues.
Now, let’s look at the SEVIS Portal scenarios, where many students have been posting on the blog that their OPT end date was updated and they got selected in lottery.
SEVP Portal OPT End Date Changes for Cap Gap Students – Lottery Selected ?
First and foremost, SEVP Portal and SEVIS share the same data. SEVIS system data is replicated once a day to SEVP Portal. So, both DSO or you will see the same information after the sync happens. As an F1 student on OPT, if your OPT is approved and started, you would have got an email from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov to create an account. If you have missed the email by either spam or have wrong email ID in SEVIS, you can ask your DSO to re-send the registration email for SEVP Portal. You can register and create an account. For detail steps, check out SEVP Portal User Guide.
After you login, you will see the OPT end date under employment section. It looks like below. You can expand the + to see details of the employment. The key thing is the Type of OPT authorization and End Date. It should be Post Completion and the end date changes reflect your H1B petition status, depending on how the USCIS system data is updated with SEVIS.
- H1B Lottery Selected : If your OPT end date in SEVP Portal under employment is changed to September 30th, it means that your H1B Petition is either in Approved or Pending status, which basically means that you were selected in H1B Lottery.
- H1B Petition Filed : If your OPT end date in SEVP Portal under employment is changed to June 1st, it indicates that your H1B petition was filed, but does not indicate your petition was picked in Lottery.
Samples SEVP Portal Updates posted by Users with OPT End date Extended to September 30th ( 9/30) – H1B Lottery Selected .
Thanks to few of our readers Ash, sj, and others who have shared their SEVP Portal update with us for clarity. They look like below. Thanks to Ash,sj and others for their help !
Post Completion OPT End date Updated to September 30th.
So, in a nutshell, if you are in cap gap scenario and have your OPT ending date updated in SEVP Portal or SEVIS as updated by DSO, you can derive that your H1B petition was either picked in H1B Lottery or not. But, one key thing, not all of the data is properly synchronized with USCIS and SEVIS and it is your duty to call DSO and update your status, if you find it out from employer that your H1B was picked in lottery or rejected. You will need to submit reject notice or case receipt copy to be able to have DSO edit your SEVIS records properly. Also, do not be disheartened that your status or end date was not updated like others as you see comments on the blog, it takes time…not everyone gets at the same time…it can take few weeks or a month or more. Until you get a reject notice, do not take anything for granted. Stay positive !
What are your thoughts ? Your experiences with SEVP Portal ? Status updates on SEVIS vs SEVP Portal ? Any other questions.