What is SEVIS and what is its importance?
The acronym SEVIS stands for Student Exchange Visitor and Information System.
Prior to 2001, only post-secondary institutions were required to register with SEVIS as a condition of enrolling foreign students. However, the Patriot Act now requires any school district or accredited nonpublic school to register before the school may enroll a non-exchange foreign student. If a school or school district only accepts students from BONA FIDE recognized exchange programs, it is NOT required to register with SEVIS. But because there is no exchange program with respect to F-1 visa holders, the school becomes the "sponsor" in the eyes of the federal government and must be registered. Registration with SEVIS is not inexpensive; it costs the district about $600 every other year. More information about SEVIS should be sought at http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges/sevis.html. This answer deals exclusively with non-immigrant students; that is, students who are not residents of the United States and who are in this country temporarily. If a student who is not a citizen of the United States nevertheless lives in Iowa with his or her parents, the school district of residence is required to provide a tuition-free education to that student. This is true even if the parents of the student are in this country illegally. See Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 102 S.Ct. 2382, 72 L.Ed.2d 786 (1982).