Immigration Terminology


Change of Status, from one immigration classification (such as B-2, visitor) to another (such as F-1, student).


Department of Labor — agency involved in process for F-1 Pilot Program.


Designated School Official — the person at the school who is responsible for acting on behalf of the F-1 program and signing government forms.


Port of Entry — airport or land (border) location where individuals enter the U.S. and are inspected by USCIS Port of Entry abbreviation with arrival date is stamped on I-94 card.


USCIS action on an application or petition.


Foreign national who enters the U.S. as (or while in the U.S. becomes) a legal permanent resident of the United States, also called resident alien, permanent resident, person having “green card.”

Immigration Status

Your visa status is the status you currently hold with immigration. In most cases, your visa stamp and immigration status is the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the U.S. If you were issued an I-20, your status is either F-1 or M-1 student status.


Foreign national who enters the U.S. for a temporary stay and does not intend to abandon his/her country.


Process by which DSO informs USCIS by sending specific documents to USCIS Data Processing Center.

Prospective Student

Notation that can be placed on a B-2 visa by the consular officer that indicates the bearer is intending to be a student (has credible evidence) but does not have the Form I-20 AB. This notation is given at the discretion of the visa officer and, depending upon the student’s situation and the country of issuance, may be issued more readily by some posts than others. Once in the U.S. and having the I-20 AB, the student should apply to change to F-1 or M-1 status.


The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States. SEVIS is administered by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). SEVIS is designed to keep our nation safe while facilitating the entry and exit process for foreign students in the United States and for students seeking to study in the United States.


The visa stamp in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and is used for entering the U.S. It is not a problem if your visa expires in the U.S. It is only used for entering the U.S. If you travel outside the U.S. and your visa has expired, you will need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the U.S.

Note: Canadian citizens do not need a passport or visa but must show a current and valid I-20 at the port of entry.

Voluntary Departure

Response of USCIS to applicant who files for a benefit, which is denied. Applicant is asked to leave the U.S. by an assigned date.


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