Loss of Academic Accreditation Agency Recognition Will Affect Some Immigration Benefits – General Immigration

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On August 19, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced that effective immediately, it no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency for certain immigration-related programs. On November 1, 2022, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided information about the impact on certain immigration programs. Institutions accredited by ACICS will no longer be considered accredited for immigration purposes.

The Ministry’s decision immediately impacts the following programs:

  • Study programs in English

  • F-1 students applying for a 24-month STEM OPT extension

What do students at these institutions need to know?

If a school’s certification is withdrawn, SEVP indicates that it will notify the affected students in writing. ACICS-accredited schools can no longer issue program extensions. Students enrolled in an ACICS school can complete their current academic session, but they cannot continue with future academic sessions.

In addition to the general information above, USCIS offers additional guidance for the two specific programs.

Study programs in English

USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to any applicant who filed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status on or after August 19, 2022, requesting either to change their status, or to be reinstated to attend an ACICS-accredited program of study in English. Applicants who receive an RFE may provide evidence in response, such as providing documentation that the program they wish to enroll in meets accreditation requirements.

Applicants must submit a new Form I-20 from a school accredited by an entity recognized by the ED. If they don’t respond, USCIS will deny their application for reinstatement or change of status.

STEM OPT Extension Program

Students wishing to apply for STEM OPT must have graduated from an ED-accredited educational institution at the time they apply for STEM OPT. USCIS considers the filing date to be the date of the DSO’s recommendation on the Form I-20.

USCIS will deny a STEM OPT extension if the STEM credential is dated on or after August 19, 2022, or if the DSO’s recommendation for a STEM OPT extension (as listed on the Form I-20) is dated on or after August 19, 2022. date. 2022.

Additional impacts

H-1B Masters Cap Cases

The ED’s decision to no longer recognize ACICS as an accrediting agency means that degrees earned from an ACICS-accredited institution on or after August 19, 2022 will not be considered a U.S. master’s degree. or higher degree for the purpose of qualifying for an H-1B higher degree waiver.

I-140 EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Requirements

Degrees dated before August 19, 2022 issued by ACICS-accredited institutions can still be used to meet the educational requirements of I-140 immigration applications. However, degrees from unaccredited institutions cannot be used in support of these petitions.

Originally published November 04, 2022

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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