Basic Immigration Terms
Important Terms and Documents you should know:
• D/S stands for “duration of status” which means you are allowed to be in the U.S. as long as you are
maintaining your status. This is usually noted on both your I-94 and your I-20 or DS-2019.
• DSO (Designated School Official) refers to persons at an institution with the authority to communicate
with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) or DOS (Department of State) on immigration matters.
These are your international student advisors in International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
• Grace period is the period of time following your completion of study that may be used to prepare for
departure from the United States or to transfer to another SEVIS approved institution. This time frame
can vary depending on your visa-type and situation.
• I-94 is the Arrival / Departure Record, in either paper or electronic format, issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States. After April 30, 2013, most Arrival/Departure records will be created electronically upon arrival. Instead of a paper form, the visitor will be provided with an annotated stamp in the foreign passport. If provided a paper form, the admitting CBP Officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitor's passport and stamps the departure date on the form. In both circumstances, an electronic I-94 or paper I-94, the visitor must exit the U.S. on or before that date stamped on the form or in the passport.
• Non-Immigrant can be defined as an alien who wishes to be admitted to the United States for a limited,
temporary purpose, and who plans to depart the United States after completing that purpose. F-1 and
J-1 students are non-immigrants.
• Passport is the document issued by your home country for travel purposes. It must be valid at least 6
months into the future.
• SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is the database used to produce I-20s and
DS-2019s. This database is accessible on campus only by authorized DSOs who use it to report your
data and events such as: student identity information, enrollment, address, work authorization, benefits
• Status refers to the actual activity for which the non-immigrant has been allowed to enter the U.S. For
students, your purpose is to study.
• Visa is the stamp that a U.S. embassy or consulate affixed to a page in your passport. It gives you the
right to request admission at a U.S. port of entry. A U.S. visa indicates: visa type, how many times you
may request entry, and the last date on which the visa may be used to request entry. This document can
expire while you are in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining your status.