As of August 19, 2022, the US Department of Education no longer recognizes the accreditation of institutions by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
On November 1, 2022, the USCIS explained in a News Alert how this loss of recognition will affect the following immigration-related student programs:
- USCIS will issue a denial to any F-1 student filing a Form I-765 STEM OPT extension if:
- The STEM degree that is the basis for the STEM OPT extension was obtained from a college or university that was accredited by ACICS; and
- The student’s DSO recommendation for a STEM OPT extension, as indicated on Form I-20, is dated on or after August 19, 2022 (the date when ACICS ceased to be recognized as an accrediting agency).
- STEM-OPT students whose Forms I-20 have a DSO recommendation date prior to August 19, 2022 are not affected.
- H-1B Master’s CAP Eligibility and I-140 Advanced Degree/Professional Eligibility
- Students who obtain their degree after August 19, 2022 from an institution that is solely accredited by ACICS may NOT use that degree to qualify for the H-1B Master’s CAP or to qualify for an I-140 petition filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications.
- If a student’s degree was conferred prior to August 19, 2022 from an ACICS-accredited school, that degree may still be used to qualify for the H-1B Master’s CAP or to qualify for an I-140 petition filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications, as long as all other requirements are met.
- An institution accredited solely by ACICS no longer qualifies for an exemption from the H-1B cap or the ACWIA fee, unless the institution is exempt on another basis.