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Basic Immigration Terminology

Academic Training - work, training or experience that is related to a J-1 student's major of area of study. Academic training must be authorized by the RO/ARO for the school.

Alien - any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - temporary employment for F-1 students in an internship that is an integral part of an established curriculum at an academic institution. A DSO at the academic institution the student attends must authorize CPT.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) - U.S. government bureau that is responsible for immigration inspections at U.S. ports of entry, U.S. border patrol, and U.S. customs.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - the department of the U.S. government that was formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). The immigration functions of the department are administered by three bureaus including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

Department of State (DOS) - the department of the U.S. government that is responsible for issuing visas and administering the J-1 exchange visitor program.

Designated School Official (DSO) - an employee of the school that is responsible for creating I-20s, SEVIS records, and representing the school in all matters that relate to F-1 and M-1 students.

DS-2019 - A certificate of eligibility for exchange visitor status (J-1) issued by the academic institution and used by the exchange visitor to obtain a visa, enter the United States and to maintain J-1 status. An exchange visitor is expected to keep his/her initial DS-2019 and any subsequent DS-2019s issued to him/her.

Duration of Status (D/S) - the period of time a student is allowed to remain in the U.S. This is defined as the time period during which a student is pursing a full course of study or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies plus a 60 day (F-1s) or 30 day (J-1s) period to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer schools.

F-1 - a student pursing a full-course of study at an academic institution in the United States that has been given permission by the Department of Homeland Security to accept F-1 students.

F-2 - A dependent (spouse or child) of a F-1 student

F-3/M-3 - Mexican or Canadian border students who reside outside the U.S. and commute across the border into the U.S. to study part-time at an approved school located within 75 miles of a United States land border.

I-20 - A certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status (F-1 or M-1) issued by the school and used by the student to obtain a visa, enter the United States and to maintain student status. A student is expected to keep his/her initial I-20 and any subsequent I-20s issued to him/her.

I-94 - an arrival-departure record endorsed by the immigration officer at the port of entry with the status of the visitor and the length of time he/she may remain in the United States. The I-94 is a small white card and is generally stapled in the passport upon entry by the immigration officer.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - U.S. government bureau that is responsible for immigration investigations, detention and removal proceedings, intelligence and SEVIS.

J-1 - a non-immigrant coming under the exchange visitor program of an academic institution, which is administered by the Department of State. There are several categories of J-1 exchange visitors, including students. Students who are totally funded by personal or family funds are generally not eligible for J-1 status.

J-2 - a dependent (spouse or child) of a J-1 exchange visitor.

M-1 - a student pursuing a full course of study at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution that is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to admit M-1 students.

M-2 - a dependent (spouse/child) of a M-1 student.

Non-immigrant - someone from another country who wants to come for a temporary visit to the United States and plans on departing the U.S. upon completion of the purpose for their visit. Persons in F-1, M-1 and J-1 status are considered non-immigrants.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) - temporary employment for practical training in a F-1 student's major area of study. OPT must be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security and recommended by the DSO at the academic institution the student attends.

Overstay - someone who entered the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa and stayed beyond the period of time authorized. If a non-immigrant is considered an overstay his/her visa will be void and he/she must obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate located in his/her country of nationality.

Responsible Officer (RO/ARO) - an employee of the school that is responsible for creating DS-2019s, SEVIS records, and representing the school in all matters that relate to J-1s.

SEVIS - an internet based tracking systems that allow schools, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to exchange data on the status of F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors.

Special Registration or NSEERS - a requirement of some visitors to be registered with the Department of Homeland Security upon entry into the United States. If a visitor is subject to NSEERs it will be noted on his/her I-94. Individuals registered under NSEERS should be given "walkaway materials" at the port of entry explaining their obligations under special registration and listing the ports of departure that must be used when departing the United States. These materials are also available on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's website at www.ice.gov/graphics/specialregistration/WalkawayMaterial.pdf

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - U.S. government bureau that is responsible for most immigration benefit applications and petition adjudications (i.e. optional practical training and change of status petitions.)

U.S. VISIT - a system developed by the Department of Homeland Security that uses biometrics (fingerprints & photographs) to confirm a visitor's entry into and exit from the United States.

Unlawful Presence - a non-immigrant who remains in the U.S. after the period of authorized stay or is present in the U.S. without being admitted or paroled at the port of entry. The accumulation of 180 days of unlawful presence but less than 1 year will bar future entries into the U.S. for 3 years. The accumulation of more than a year of unlawful presence will bar future entries into the U.S. for 10 years.

Visa - a stamp placed in a passport that allows someone entry into the United States according to the conditions for that visa type. The validity period on the visa is the time period in which someone may make an entry into the United States. The validity period of the visa has no relation to the period of time someone is allowed to remain in the U.S.

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