On August 19, 2022, the Department of Labor stated it would no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges (ACICS) as an accrediting agency. This announcement affects English language study programs and F-1 students applying for STEM OPT extensions.
SEVP will notify students if their school is affected by the above and strongly encourage students to contact their DSO to gain a better understanding of how the loss of accreditation will affect their F-1 status.
On September 6, 2022, ACICS confirmed that they will not appeal this decision and will begin an orderly dissolution of the corporation, while at the same time insisting, they were in substantial compliance with any objective, consistent and reasonable interpretation of the recognition criteria.
Affected schools include, but are not limited to Silicon Valley University, Fairfax University, Southern Technical College and Stratford University.
How the loss of accreditation affects H-1B Master’s cap and I-140 petitions.
USCIS has stated that colleges and universities solely accredited by ACICS are no longer accredited institutions and any degrees conferred by those institutions on or after August 19, 2022, cannot be used to allow a beneficiary to qualify for the H-1B Master’s cap.
Therefore, employers filing H-1B petitions in next year’s lottery need to make sure candidate’s either obtained their degree while the University was accredited or if on or after August 19, 2022, that the University had alternative accreditation.
The loss of accreditation similarly affects I-140 petitions filed under the EB-2 category based on the advanced degree requirement and EB-3 filings based. Employers need to apply similar diligence when considering initiating green card applications for these candidates. An I-140 filed with a degree from ACICS will be denied unless the degree was obtained prior to August 19, 2022, unless the college/University had alternative accreditation.
How the loss of accreditation affects STEM OPT applications.
Applicants seeking a 24- month extension of their STEM OPT, must have a degree from an accredited SEVP-certified school at the time of filing their STEM OPT application. The loss of accreditation prevents students from qualifying for the STEM OPT extension.
USCIS will deny any STEM OPT application, where the degree was obtained from an educational institution accredited by ACICS and the DSO’s recommendation on Form I-20, is dated on or after August 19, 2022. Students with I-20s dated prior to August 19, 2022, remain eligible.
If you have further questions regarding the above, please contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott at firstname.lastname@example.org.