ACICS Accreditation has been in the news for a while now. On Dec 12, 2016 Department of Education confirmed the Loss of ACICS Accreditation. So, how is this loss of Accreditation going to impact International Students here in the U.S.A.? I interviewed Immigration Attorney Murali Bashyam about the impact. You can access the Interview using the link below.
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Timeline of Events
- June 14, 2016: Department staff recommended that ACICS’s petition for renewal of recognition by the Department be denied for several reasons.
- Dec 12, 2016: DOE announced that it no longer recognizes ACICS as an Accrediting Agency.
- Dec 14, 2016: ICE published Guidelines for affected students.
- Dec 19, 2016: ACICS asked the federal district court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order in order to prevent the implementation of the December 12, 2016 decision by the Department of Education to withdraw ACICS’s recognition as a nationally recognized accreditation agency.
- Dec 21, 2016: In an afternoon hearing on December 20, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton denied the motion of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (“ACICS”) seeking a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to stay the decision of the U.S. Department of Education (“ED” or the “Department”) terminating ACICS’s status as a federally recognized accrediting agency.
- Feb 21, 2016: Judge Dismisses the Motion by ACICS requesting to block DOE
- April 20, 2017: USCIS Issues Guidance on how they will process STEM OPT and English Language Programs.
ACICS and ICE Guidelines
ICE has published guidelines for the impacted schools and students. Let me focus on the impact on International Students enrolled in the list of schools that were accredited by ACICS. As per ICE press release, two groups of students are impacted:
- Students in ESL Program
- Students planning to use 24 Months STEM OPT Extension
Options for Affected Students
There are three options listed by ICE for students impacted by ACICS loss of accreditation:
- Check if your school plan to get accredited by another agency (then shouldn’t worry)
- Transfer to Another Accredited School in next 18 months
- Depart the United States if Option #1 and #2 doesn’t work out.
If you decide to go with Option #1, then I would have a “Plan B”.
The school accreditation process can take a long time. And you would have to understand the timeline and how long you have left to change your status or apply for university transfer. What if the new agency couldn’t complete the process in 18 months? Could you be affected by that right? So, understand your options and act now.
Until this point, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. But, let’s look at another group of students who could be impacted
- Students who are about to Graduate
- Recent Graduates who are on OPT
- Working on OPT and about to apply fro STEM OPT Extension
- Students in STEM OPT Extension
- Impact when Applying for H1B Visa (while on OPT and STEM OPT)
As you can see above category of students don’t fall under the guidance issued by ICE. So, what should these students do? Please post your questions in the comments section below or use the form to submit your questions.
There is one more category of students
- Students who got F1 Visa or about to attend F1 Visa Interview for ACICS Accredited Universities
I think it’s pretty easy advice to them right? I would try to get a visa for another accredited university.
University Transfer After ACICS Loss of Accreditation
I’m sure there would be universities that are willing to accept students from close to 667 affected ACICS member schools in the U.S.A. Here’s some ACICS Member schools with International Student Enrollments
- Northwestern Polytechnic University
- Silicon Valley University
- Coleman University
- Herguan University
- California University of Management & Sciences
- Virginia International University
- Schiller International University
- American college of commerce and technology
- Stratford University, New Delhi
Twitter Reactions for ACICS
Questions After ACICS Accreditation Loss
Here are a few questions from students impacted due to ACICS Accreditation loss:
- I just got the visa for NPU, Can I come to the US and transfer university? What will happen at Port of Entry?
- I applied for OPT, will USCIS approve initial 12 months OPT?
- I’m on OPT, what’s the impact? My OPT is going to expire, I’m going to apply for the STEM OPT Extension. Can I Apply? If not, what are my options?
- I am working in STEM OPT Extension. What’s the impact on my current status?
- I have graduated from my university when it was Accredited, Am I eligible for Applying for H1B Visa under MASTER CAP?
- I have already completed my masters in computer science but did not apply for the OPT till now. Shall I apply for double masters now or can apply to opt?
- I’ve been approved for 17 months of opt extension and extra 7 months recently. I’ve I20, employment letter, valid visa, pay stubs, EAD cards. I’m visiting my family in India right now. Would there be any problem with my re-entry?
- Will my degree be considered as an accredited master’s degree? (Should I can consider myself as a person holding a Master’s degree or not?)
- Can I go for further education using my current degree by ACICS?
- Can I apply for H1B (Masters Quota) on my OPT period (April 2017)?
- What are the chances of getting new accreditation before Dec’17 as it is a lengthy process? (So I can then apply for OPT extension).
- How long does it usually take for an institution to get new accreditation?
- University Transfer Questions:
- Can you please suggest me any universities that are accepting transfer admissions now?
- I have 6 months left to Graduate. So, what should I do? Please suggest me the best option should I continue or should I apply for transfer?
Get Updates About ACICS News
What specific questions do you have about ACICS that I can help find answers? I asked above questions to to Immigration Attorney Murali Bashyam and you can watch the interview here. If you are in need of immediate help, you can also schedule a consulting call with Attorney via Ask an Attorney service.
I’m embedding a form here and if you like to get email updates on this topic, please complete it. I’m going to ask around other universities if they are accepting students from schools affected by ACICS loss of accreditation.