A Department of Education (DOE) decision to no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency immediately affects two immigration-related student programs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced:
- English language study programs; and
- F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension.
USCIS said the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will provide guidance to affected students in notification letters if their schools’ accreditation is revoked. However, students enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their Designated School Officials immediately “to better understand if and how the loss of recognized accreditation will affect their status and/or immigration benefits applications,” USCIS said.
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to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its accreditation or is withdrawn by SEVP, USCIS explained. Students whose ACICS-accredited school can provide evidence of a DOE-recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted time frame may remain at the school to complete their programs of study.