Immigration Compliance, Policy Development, & Risk Management


The University at Albany’s International Education Leadership Expert Series presents a module with Ron Cushing designed to provide insights to leaders and other practitioners about best practices in immigration compliance.


Offered Periodically


Registration Fee: $399

About the module

With increased scrutiny being placed on institutions of higher education and tougher approval processes for student immigration petitions, both the institution and the students they serve are at risk in the current environment. Mistakes can result in penalties to the institution up to and including decertification in SEVIS or fines and other penalties. Institutional policies that ultimately fail to comply with the regulations can get students deported and barred from reentering the U.S. for significant periods of time.

Compliance issues are now at the forefront of all international student operations as the federal government has clamped down on approvals for everything from changes in immigration status, to reinstatement to status, to work permits. Even more challenging, institutions of higher education who try to be progressive and create new programs of study or pathways can be derailed by extensive approval processing times from the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  Institutions and students can be penalized excessively for improper advising or processing on the part of the institution.

New international student enrollment in the U.S. has decreased for four consecutive years. On campus, we are challenged by a perfect storm of complications in managing this arena. Immigration compliance takes on extraordinary strategic as well as operational importance in this fraught environment. Senior International Officers need to understand the mission-critical and shifting risks as well as the basics of how immigration compliance affects the institution. Those who direct, work in international offices, or want to work in international offices in the future need new tools for “smart compliance,” staying abreast of changes and managing operations to protect international students and the institution.

This course, Immigration Compliance, Policy Development, & Risk Management, is designed to show you what both senior and front-line practitioners have to deal with when managing immigration compliance and advising international students.

Successful participants will receive a digital micro-credential acknowledging their completion of this professional development expert module from the International Education Management & Leadership Program at the University at Albany (SUNY).

Who Should Attend?

Deans and Directors of International Programs interested in preserving and building their academic and extracurricular programming with international students and scholars.

Who Should Attend?

Senior International Officers interested in understanding and mitigating the immigration risk profile of their campus as well as for students and scholars.

Who Should Attend?

General Counsel and Institutional Risk Officers who want to mitigate and reduce their institutions immigration risk profile.

Who Should Attend?

New and seasoned advisors who serve as Designated School Officials seeking additional knowledge and professional development.

Who Should Attend?

Current students interested in International Education as a career seeking additional knowledge and capacity.

Expert Series Presenter

Ron Cushing

Ron Cushing has been the Director of International Services at the University of Cincinnati for 24 years. He is responsible for serving the needs of over 5,000 non-immigrant students, faculty, and researchers. Ron has served as a mentor to over one thousand colleagues through his Fundamentals of Foreign Student Advising seminar, a three-day seminar for Designated School Officials that he has been conducting for 20 years. Ron has made well over 100 presentations at professional conferences, including regional and national NAFSA: the Association of International Educators (AIEA); the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC); the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC); the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AAOCRAO); Lorman Educational Services; Global Education Solutions LLC; and other organizations. Ron has been honored by NAFSA, Region VI, with the Leo Dowling Award of Excellence for his “compassion, integrity and leadership” to the field of international education. Ron is also a recipient of the University of Cincinnati’s “Just Community” award given to individuals for “outstanding contributions that promote the ideals of a just and caring community” and has been named of one the Communication Departments’ “50 Communication Alumni Champions” based on his success in his career, local community and support to UC.

  • Participants in the course will receive access to Ron Cushing’s Fundamentals of Foreign Student Advising curriculum including white papers, topic instructions and incidents.
  • Full regulatory citations
  • Sample Institutional Policies

Overall Learning Outcomes:

This course is designed to provide insights to current and future practitioners and leaders about best practices in this challenging environment. By focusing on strategic and institutional risk areas participants will learn how to manage and mitigate the major risks to the institution and the students and scholars they serve. We will use critical incidents and their outcomes to help you:

  • Identify the potential unintended consequences of policy changes from both outside and within the institution.
  • Develop approaches to mitigate strategic risk for your campus around international students and scholars.
  • Map the range and impact of key operational issues in immigration compliance for your campus.
  • Develop best practices and a toolset of techniques available to manage international student operations as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  • Increase your abilities to professionally manage the staff responsible for international student services.
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVIS) and how information on the institutional I-17 affects operations.
  • Gain an understanding of the different populations of international students that institutions of higher education are responsible for as well as the key compliance topics that affect operations.
  • Participants will learn how to structure fees in a way that won’t put their SEVIS certification at risk.
  • Develop analytical skills for compliance and risk management situations and understand staffing levels based necessary to provide specific immigration services.
  • Learn to analyze the pros and cons of processing petitions in-house verses out-sourcing and to create or revise institutional policies on institutional operations.
  • Before Session 1: Case studies for week one will be presented to participants. Readings will be assigned for week 1 discussion.
  • During session 1: Case studies will be discussed including making I-17 updates; implementing institutional fees and declaring instructional sites. Participants will identify opportunities for improving institutional operations based on this discussion.
  • After Session 1: Participants will work on institutional policy topics for sessions 2 and 3
  • During Session 2 and 3:
  • Institutional definitions for who is an international student and policies for international student employment will be discussed. Discussions will also focus on the regulatory framework for advising international students and staffing needs to manage an international student operation. Readings will be assigned for session 4 discussions.
  • After Session 2 and 3:Participants will write an International Student Fee proposal that will fund operational needs for staff, compliance fees, programming and other expenses. The proposal must address who pays the fees, what the fee amount should be, and how often the fee should be assessed.
  • During session 4:
  • Case studies will be discussed, and participants will review and analyze guidance issued by SEVP regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will analyze how that guidance affects institutional operations, including how courses are classified and structured.
  • After Session 4: Participants will write an institutional working document for institutional faculty and staff on how the SEVP guidance affects international student enrollment. Readings will be assigned for session 5 discussions.
  • During session 5:  Case studies will be discussed, and participants will gain insights into structuring operations, including determining how and what immigrations benefits should be processed in-house. For-credit students will be given readings and instructions for final examination.
  • After session 5: For-credit students must complete the final exam and turn it in to the instructor within one week (by June 25, 2021).

Expert Series Design structure

Participants will receive 7.5 hours of synchronous sessions with the instructor and 4.5 hours of asynchronous sessions. The synchronous sessions will include the following 5 meetings of 90 minutes each, via Zoom (UAlbany).

Synchronous Sessions:

  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD

Instructions for connecting to synchronous sessions and accessing the online material will be provided after registration.

Registration Fee: $399

15% Discount on registration for SUNY employees.

Reach Us

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY, 12222

+01 (518) 442-5080

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