New Rule Eliminates DSO Cap and Permits Part-Time Study for F-2 & M-2 Visa Holders

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finalized a proposal to eliminate the 10 Designated School Official (DSO) per campus cap and allow F-2 and M-2 dependents of F-1 and M-1 students to study part-time at a Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.

In order for a school to become SEVP-certified, it must have certain employees dedicated to assisting F-1 and M-1 students. Before the new rule, campuses were limited to 10 of these employees, known as DSOs and Principal DSOs (PDSOs). Effective 30 days after being posted April 29, 2015, this cap will be removed and the number of DSOs per campus will no longer be limited. This 10-DSO cap elimination was implemented to allow SEVP-certified schools to nominate as many DSOs as they see necessary in order to adequately support their school’s individual needs.

In addition to the elimination of the 10-DSO cap, the proposal also permits F-2 and M-2 dependent spouses and children to enroll in part-time studies at SEVP-certified schools. Prior to the amended regulations, F-2 and M-2 visa holders were only permitted to participate in vocational or recreational studies, or hobbies. F-2 and M-2 dependents may only enroll in full-time studies if they apply for and obtain F-1, J-1, or M-1 visa status.

Regulations permitting K-12, recreational, and vocational enrollment will not be changed. F-2 and M-2 visa holders will still not be permitted to engage in employment. F-2 and M-2 dependents who engage in full-time studies or employment will represent a violation of visa status.