Documents, Terms, and Definitions

International students have many documents and terms to remember.  You may use this list as a helpful reference.

Government Entities

  • DHS (Department of Homeland Security): The U.S. government department responsible for national security.  USCIS, CBP, and ICE are all bureaus under the jurisdiction of DHS.
  • USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services): The bureau within DHS responsible for adjudication of applications for benefits filed by nonimmigrants.
  • CBP (Customs and Border Protection): The bureau within DHS that includes border patrol, customs, and inspectors at U.S. ports of entry.
  • ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement): The bureau within DHS responsible for SEVP.
  • SEVP (Student Exchange and Visitor Program): The program under ICE which is responsible for tracking international students using SEVIS.


  • Passport: An official document verifying your citizenship of a specific country.
  • I-20: An official document showing you are eligible to attend a specific school as an F-1 student.
  • F-1 Visa: An official document adhered to a page of your passport which shows that you are eligible to enter the country in F-1 status.
  • I-94: An arrival/departure card that is issued to non-U.S. citizens when they enter the U.S.  Sometimes, it is a cardstock stapled to your passport, but most often it is issued electronically.  The I-94 denotes how long you may stay in the U.S. legally.
  • EAD card (Employment Authorization Document): A special document that authorizes you to work off-campus.  Issued by the U.S. government after OPT is approved.


  • F-1 Status: The rules and regulations F-1 students must follow in order to remain in good standing with the U.S. government and remain in the U.S. legally.
  • D/S (Duration of Status): When on your I-94, D/S denotes that you may legally stay in the U.S. for as long as you maintain your visa status.
  • SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System): The database that contains information on all F-1 students.
  • SEVIS Record: Your specific record within SEVIS, where your DSO reports on your school registration and activity as it relates to your visa status.
  • DSO (Designated School Official): The person at your school who is authorized to report on your school registration and activity as it relates to your visa status.