Special Groups Approval Process

We encourage the development of programs which will contribute to diversity, enhance research, and compliment the mission of our University. The Office for International Students and Scholars is here to advise program developers and sponsors regarding the most appropriate way to successfully bring students and scholars to the US. Navigating the sea of immigration regulations may seem daunting, and some may fear that their program may be thwarted due to constraining policies and procedures. OISS is here to help you meet your goals and produce a program which is successful and sustainable from an immigration standpoint. (In this case special groups fall outside of the academic calendar.)

The Approval Process

1. Application submitted by sponsor/developer

2. Review by OISS

3. Recommendations are made for visa type based on the information provided. Additional information is requested and revisions are requested by OISS.

Note: This step may also include contacting the registrar and/or other academic units upon whom the program’s details may impact. This step may also include OISS having to update our I-17 (the document that registers Tulane programs for which F-1 visas are supported) which can take multiple months for approval from the government.

4. Sponsor/developer revises program details to suit the recommendations made by OISS. This process continues until a satisfactory program is drafted with a clear plan for certificate eligibility.

5. Program is approved for eligibility.



What should I do to have a program authorized by OISS? Set up a consultation with OISS.

We will discuss important information about your program, including cost, source of funding, participant information, and activity details. We may ask for prospective courses to be taken, course descriptions, grading policies, extra activities, etc. It is important to remember that while involved, the process is a way for us to make sure that we authorize your students or scholars for the correct program category.


What happens if I do not consult with OISS?

A consultation is required before OISS issues immigration eligibility forms (I-20 or DS-2019) to any student or scholar in a special program. This is because the eligibility form that we sign declares that we are aware of the scope of the program from content to cost, and recommend the individual to engage in such a program as specified by the certificate.


If OISS issues an eligibility document (DS 2019 or I-20) does this mean the student has a visa?

No. The I-20 or DS-2019 is simply a document stating that our Designated School Officials have approved the program and declare that the nature of the program fits the category description. This document makes the student or scholar eligible to apply for a visa abroad. The ultimate decision to issue a visa lies with the consulate abroad. The student will need to go through an interview, show funding, show the eligibility documents, and anything else the visa consulate needs to prove that the intent of the student or scholar is warranted.


If the student or scholar gets a visa, does that mean he or she will be admitted into the country?

Most of the time, students and scholars with appropriate documentation will be admitted into the country, but it is important to note that the decision to admit an individual ultimately lies with the border officer who evaluates the non-immigrant upon arrival into the US. The individual is issued an I-94 card, which states how long the individual is permitted to stay in the US based on the information given at the border.


Next Steps After Special Group Approval