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Helpful Immigration Terms

Change of Status (COS) - Application submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on form I-539. If the request is approved, new visa status is granted.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - A training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Your designated school official completes the process- it is not adjudicated at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Duration of Status (D/S) - F-1 and J-1 students are admitted to the U.S. for the period during which they are pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution.

Dependents - Legally married husband, wife, and unmarried children under 21.

Designated School Official (DSO) - A designated university employee who represents the school in all F-1 matters. Only a designated school official may sign an immigration document for the school. A designated school official should be a student’s initial source of information regarding all immigration matters.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) - Small, laminated card with photo ID, requested by beneficiary on form I-765 and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Employment Authorization Document may be given for optional practical training, economic hardship, or temporary employment of spouses with J-2 status and in some other instances.

Green Card - Small laminated card with photo ID and fingerprint, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for resident aliens. Treated as U.S. citizens for employment, enrollment, and payment purposes.

I-94 - An electronic arrival and departure record. This can also be a small white card located in your passport completed upon entering the United States. The admission record portion is collected at the port of entry and the departure record portion is stamped by the immigration officer. Entry stamp shows date and place of entry, visa status, and the limitation of stay. J-1 and F-1 status is usually stamped “D/S” meaning that you can remain in the US for the duration of your status.

Immigrant, green card holder, resident alien, permanent resident - an alien who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Essentially has the same rights and obligations as a U.S. citizen with the exceptions of voting, holding certain public offices, and employment by federal agencies in civil service positions.

Non-immigrant - An alien admitted to the United States for a specific purpose for a temporary stay that will end when its purpose has been accomplished.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) - A benefit of legal F-1 status, optional practical training is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services based on documents submitted by applicant and school's recommendation. Work has to be within the student's area of study and usually takes place after graduation.

Passport - An official governmental travel document that certifies the identity and nationality of a person and grants him/her permission to travel abroad (travel to certain countries may be limited).

Port of Entry (POE) - airport or border where individuals are legally admitted to the United States.

Reinstatement - A F-1 or J-1 student who has violated his/her student status may be reinstated to lawful F-1/J-1 status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Application is made on form I-539 accompanied by supporting documents. Contact the designated school official for details.

Transfer student - For immigration purposes a student who is pursuing a full course of study within the United States and transfers to another U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved school.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - a government agency responsible for the admission, control, and status of all aliens in the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - A bureau of the Department of Homeland Security who investigates and enforces immigration and border security. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Visa - A stamp in the passport issued by an American Embassy or Consulate abroad, allowing the holder to request entry to the United States in a certain visa status within the time period specified on the visa. A visa may allow one, two, or multiple entries before the expiration date of the visa.

Visa Overstay - Persons who lawfully entered the United States but who overstayed their period of authorized stay or otherwise violated the terms of their temporary status.

Visa Status - A status granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the port of entry, stamped on the I-94 card, or later granted through an approval notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, accompanied by a new I-94 card.