Glossary and Immigration Terminology

DHS: Department of Homeland Security. DHS consists of three organizations: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). DHS provides the basic governmental framework for regulating the flow of visitors, workers and immigrants to the U.S.

DS-2019: A government form which allows you to obtain a J-1 visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and enter the U.S. in J-1 status.

D/S: Duration of Status. D/S is granted in the immigration inspection area. D/S allows students to remain in the U.S. for the length of time necessary to complete their studies. D/S generally ends on the last day of classes (i.e., I-20 or DS-2019 expiration date), plus a 60-day grace period for F-1 students and 30-day grace period for J-1 visa holders.

DSO: Designated School Official. A staff member at your school who acts as the liaison between you and the Department of Homeland Security. 

EAD: Employment Authorization Document. A work permit issued by the USCIS that allows you to legally work in the U.S beginning and ending on the dates of your authorized employment.

Grace Period: Grace period refers to a 60-day departure preparation period immediately following a student's I-20 completion date or OPT completion date.

Green Card: Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as green card), is a wallet-sized card showing that the person is a lawful permanent resident (immigrant) in the U.S.

In Status: Every visa is issued for a particular purpose and for a specific class of visitor. Each visa classification has a set of requirements that the visa holder must follow and maintain. Those who follow the requirements maintain their status and ensure their ability to remain in the U.S. Those who do not follow the requirements violate their status and are considered "out of status."

I-94: Arrival-Departure Record. The I-94 is electronically issued to all nonimmigrants by the U.S. immigration inspectors at the port of entry. It is evidence of legal entry into the U.S., indicating date of entry, status granted (F-1 or J-1), and length of stay granted. To retrieve your I-94 visit the i94 site.

I-20: A government form which will allow you to obtain an F-1 student visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and enter the U.S. as an F-1 student. It is a three page document that is sent to you before you attend school. It shows your field of study, starting and ending dates of study and financial information.

I-9: A form to prove employment eligibility for anyone being hired.

Nonimmigrant Visa: A U.S. visa allows the bearer, a foreign citizen, to apply to enter the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose. Student visas are examples of nonimmigrant visas.

Overstay: An "overstay" occurs when a visitor stays longer than permitted as shown on his/her Arrival/Departure (I-94) record. A violation of the CBP defined length of admission may make you ineligible for a visa in the future.

PDSO: Primary Designated School Official. The person designated by a SEVP-approved school to have primary responsibility for students in that program and maintaining SEVIS records.

SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, An online reporting database for tracking and reporting F, J, and M students in the U.S.

SEVIS ID Number: The unique identifying number assigned to a student or exchange visitor within SEVIS that appears on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Status: Once nonimmigrants enter the U.S., they are classified by the immigrations inspectors according to the visa used to enter. If you use an F-1 visa to enter the U.S., you will be grated F-1 status.

USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services. A U.S. governmental agency in charge of matters concerning immigration.

Visa: A visa is a document placed in your passport by the U.S. that allows you to enter the country. Visas cannot be issued from within the U.S.

Work Authorization: If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document to prove you may work in the U.S.