Clarification of Terminology
Duration of Studies
Department of Homeland Security
Designated School Official
EAD (Form I-766)
"Employment Authorization Document" is a small plastic card issued by the USCIS when it approves an application for employment such as: F-1 Optional Practical Training and F-1 approval of employment due to economic hardship.
A person who holds citizenship in any country other than the U.S.
The employment eligibility verification document an employer requires within three days of beginning work. This procedure verifies your identify and authorization to be employed on that specific job. Note: The I-94 does not record employment authorization.
Foreign Student Advisor
The INS document issued to permanent residents and immigrants which grants unconditional work authorization and the right to reside in the U.S. for an indefinite length of time; normally it is necessary to have a qualifying family member or employer as a sponsor.
I-20 / Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 status
The travel document issued by the office of international student services for your F-1 visa application and entry/re-entry into the U.S. for full-time study in a recognized degree program (or for your F-2 visa application as a dependent of a student). The I-20 expires 60 days after you conclude all requirements for your degree program or on the date indicated in item 5 of the I-20, whichever comes first.
I-94 / Arrival and Departure Record
An electronic record of your arrival created by the Customs and immigration officer at your U.S. port-of-entry. It specifies your authorized length of stay in the U.S. F-1 students and F-2 dependents receive "D/S," meaning that their stay is authorized for the duration of their status in one academic program as noted in item 5 of the I-20 document. At the conclusion of the program of study, teaching, or research, a grace period of 60 days is allowed for the purpose of tourism and finalizing arrangements for the return home.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (part of DHS)
U.S. Internal Revenue Service (annual federal income tax assessment and collection)
A foreign national who enters the U.S. for a specific purpose, such as study or research, and who intends to return to his/her home country or last country of residence when the purpose is completed.
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (part of DHS, responsible for SEVIS)
Social Security Number
The "taxpayer I.D. number" issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. This number does not authorize employment. However, the number is used to record payment from an employer to an employee for income tax purposes. The number is also frequently used simply as an identification number, for example, on an Ohio driver's license.
Your passport, entry visa stamp in the passport, Certificate of Eligibility (I-20), and I-94 (electronic record accessible via the USCIS webpage for printing). These are important documents. Please do not lose them. Bring them to the Office of International Student Services when you have questions or concerns. You also must carry them with you when you travel out of the United States.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of DHS)
Visa (Entry Visa)
A stamp issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and placed in your passport. It specifies a non-immigrant classification (F), the number of allowed entries into the U.S. (1, 2, multiple) and the dates of the visa validity. The visa allows you to request entry into the U.S. for a specific purpose. It needs to be valid until the day you intend to enter the U.S. and may expire while you are here. If you plan to re-enter the U.S. at a later date, you need to apply for a new visa when abroad. An exception is travel to Canada, Mexico, and contiguous islands for less than 30 days as a tourist.
Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program is available to citizens of some countries. It permits entry into the U.S. with no visa stamp in the passport. There are limitations on stay in the U.S. of 90 days for tourism (WT) or business (WB) only. No extension or change to a different immigration classification is permitted.