USCIS posted a notice that as of Aug. 19, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency. This change affects two immigration-related student programs and other immigration benefits. Click here to see a list of ACICS schools.
English language study programs by ACICS-accredited schools will no longer be recognized and international students who seek to join such program with a pending I-539 filed on or after Aug. 19, 2022 will receive an RFE about accreditation.
USCIS will deny the 24-month STEM OPT if the degree was obtained from an ACICS accredited school with a DSO recommendation date on or after Aug. 19, 2022. Students whose Forms I-20 have a DSO recommendation date prior to Aug. 19, 2022 are not affected.
An advanced degree issued after Aug. 19, 2022 from ACICS-accredited schools will not qualify for the H-1B advanced degree exemption or an EB-2 Advanced Degree I-140 petition. ACICS-accredited institutions will no longer qualify as institutions of higher education for purposes of the H-1B cap or ACWIA fee exemption.
SEVP will provide guidance to affected students in notification letters if their schools’ certification is withdrawn. However, students enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their DSOs immediately to better understand if and how the loss of recognized accreditation will affect their status and/or immigration benefits applications.
ACICS-accredited schools will be unable to issue program extensions, and students will only be allowed to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its certification or is withdrawn by SEVP. If a student’s ACICS-accredited school can provide evidence of an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted timeframe, the student may remain at the school to complete their program of study.