Center for Global Services
Glossary of Immigration-Related Terms

DHS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
The U.S. government department responsible for most areas of national security, including all areas related to foreign visitors in the U.S. Among the nearly 20 bureaus under DHS's jurisdiction are three (see USCIS, CBP and ICE, below) that now handle the work previously done by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) prior to 2002. Foreign students come into contact with DHS at the ports of entry to the United States, through the SEVIS database, and when applying for nonimmigrant benefits, e.g., employment authorization.

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
The bureau within the DHS responsible for adjudication of applications for benefits filed by nonimmigrants.

CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
The bureau within the DHS that includes border patrol, customs, and inspectors at U.S. ports of entry.

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
The bureau within the DHS responsible for the SEVIS database (see below), and for intelligence and investigations related to nonimmigrants in the U.S.

INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service--not in existence since 2002)
Until 2002, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was responsible for all of the areas now under USCIS, ICE and CBP. In 2002, when these duties were placed in different bureaus under the DHS, the INS was eliminated as a government agency.

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)
SEVP is the ICE's program that uses web-based technology (SEVIS) to track international students, exchange visitors and their dependents throughout the duration of approved participation within the U.S. education system. SEVIS also monitors schools' compliance with SEVP regulations requiring schools to regularly provide and update SEVIS data on its F and J students and scholars.

All F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 visa holders are assigned an ID number through which their academic and research pursuits are tracked in the SEVIS database. All SEVIS ID numbers begin with the letter N followed by 10 numerical digits. On the Form I-20, the number is on the top left hand side of the first page. On the DS-2019, the number is on the top right hand side of the first page in the box above the barcode. F and J visa holders keep the same SEVIS ID number throughout the duration of their programs. Any break in the program of more than 5 months (for F visa holders) or as determined (for J visa holders) constitutes the end of that program and the "retirement" of that SEVIS ID number.

DOS (U.S. Department of State)
This U.S. government department responsible for visa issuance worldwide through U.S. consulates and embassies. A bureau within the U.S. Department of State administers the Exchange Visitor Program and thereby regulates the stay of all individuals in J-1 status D/S: An abbreviation used by DHS for "Duration of Status." F-1 and J-1 students are admitted to the United States for as long as they are full-time students complying with all pertinent regulations. It is not indefinite, however; the period of time reflected on the I-20 in section five or the DS-2019 in section three determines the maximum length of the individual's stay and remains conditional upon the pursuit of full-time study.

Visa vs. Immigration Status

A U.S. visa is a consulate-issued stamp in a foreign national's passport that allows the individual to travel to a U.S. port of entry and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), to enter the U.S. for a specific purpose as indicated by the visa classification. Please note that the expiration date on a U.S. visa does NOT indicate how long a person can REMAIN in the U.S. U.S. visas need to be valid only at the time of each entry to the U.S.--a U.S. visa does not need to be valid after the visitor has entered the U.S. and been issued an I-94 (see below) at a U.S. port of entry. It is the I-94 that indicates the nonimmigrant status in which the visitor has entered the U.S. as well as how long the visitor is permitted to remain in the U.S. Because a U.S. visa does not have to be valid after the visitor has already been admitted into the U.S., it is not possible to obtain or renew a U.S. visa within the U.S. itself. U.S. visas can be obtained only at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S.

Immigration Status
Upon entry to the United States, all nonimmigrants are given an immigration status (a.k.a. nonimmigrant status) based on the purpose of their visit (as indicated by the visa classification noted on their visa) and by other documents they present at the port of entry. Most international students at Rutgers are given F-1 status; most international research scholars are given J-1 status. Individuals who do not comply with the regulations governing their given nonimmigrant status are "out of status" and therefore ineligible for the "benefits" of their status.

The I-94 is also known as the arrival and departure record, issued in either electronic or paper format. It is issued by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States. The foreign national is provided with an admission stamp in the passport that lists the date on which the individual must depart the U.S. In case of F-1 and J-1 visitors, the stamp states D/S, which stands for duration of status. D/S means one may remain in the United States so long as they maintain their nonimmigrant student status. Whether the I-94 issued is paper or electronic, the visitor must exit the U.S. on or before that date on the I-94 or in the passport, that is, on or before the date their status in the U.S. expires. Upon entry into the U.S., the electronic I-94 record can be accessed at: If provided in a paper form, the admitting CBP Officer generally attaches the I-94 to the visitorís passport and stamps the expected departure date on the form.

If a visitor departs by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), their departure from the U.S. can be independently verified and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to the outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass - if they still have it - can help facilitate reentry when coming back to the United States. If a visitor departs by land and has a paper form I-94, the I-94 must be turned in to a CBP Officer at a land border when exiting the U.S. If it is not turned in to a CBP Officer at the land border, the visitor will be considered an "overstay" and they may be denied entry when they attempt to reenter the United States in the future.

Duration of Status (D/S)
For all nonimmigrant statuses EXCEPT F-1/F-2 and J-1/J-2, the I-94 is notated with a specific end date that indicates the date by which the visitor must leave the U.S. or otherwise extend or change status. ONLY those with F-1/F-2 and J-1/J-2 nonimmigrant status receive I-94s stating the end date of their stay as D/S. D/S stands for Duration of Status and means that visitors may remain legally in the U.S. as long as (for the "duration" that) they are complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status. For F-1 and J-1 visitors, D/S means they are pursuing the program described on their I-20 or DS-2019, within the dates listed on the I-20 or DS-2019, and under the conditions (funding source, title, etc.) listed on the I-20 or DS-2019. The D/S on I-94s of F-2 and J-2 dependents refers to their F-1 or J-1 principal's status.

F-1 Visa Classification / F-1 Nonimmigrant Status
Most international students at Rutgers have appeared at a U.S. port of entry with a visa classified as "F-1" and have been admitted to the U.S. with an I-94 Form notated "F-1." This means they have been admitted to the U.S. for the purpose of full-time study, have demonstrated financial resources for their academic program, and have a permanent residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning. An F-1 notation on an I-94 form indicates the individual has been admitted in F-1 status, and may remain in the U.S. for the duration of their status (D/S).

The dependent spouse and unmarried minor children of an F-1 student have this immigration classification. F-2 dependents are not permitted to work in the United States under any circumstances. F-2 dependents are also prohibited from academic study at the post-secondary level.

When admitted to Rutgers as an international student, the admissions office issues the incoming student the Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student StatusĒ.   This is a government-controlled document for use by students to obtain an F-1 visa abroad or to apply for or to maintain F-1 status if they are already in the U.S. The I-20 contains a unique "SEVIS ID" identification number, which is for the student's record in the SEVIS database. The I-20 serves as a primary record of a student's immigration-related actions, such as program extensions and transfers. Students should retain all I-20s ever issued to them in order to maintain a comprehensive history/record of their F-1 status. The I-20 is first used to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, to apply for the F-1 visa, to enter the U.S., to apply for a driverís license or social security, and potentially for other processes which require verification of a studentís F-1 status.

There are many J-1 "categories," but Rutgers is authorized to use only four of them: professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, and student. Within the "student category" there are several different sub-groups. Rutgers' J-1 sponsorship of students is reserved only for individuals who fall into one of the following groups: (1) students participating in a formal academic exchange program between Rutgers and a university abroad; (2) students funded by the U.S. government, a foreign government, an international organization, or a private agency in support of international education; or (3) individuals enrolled in graduate degree programs abroad who come to Rutgers to conduct research integral to or required by their home-country academic programs.

Some J-1 nonimmigrants are subject to a two-year home residence requirement following completion of their program as a condition of the funding they received or based on the skills that are in demand in their home country. In addition, J-1 visitors in the "professor" and/or "research scholar" categories are subject to a 12-month bar or a 2-year bar which restricts them from participating in a new J-1 program in the "professor" or "research scholar" category for 12-24 months.

The dependent spouse and unmarried minor children of a J-1 exchange visitor have this immigration classification. A J-2 dependent may apply for work permission with the DHS. It is expected in the near future that J-2s will be prohibited from full-time study at the post-secondary level.

A government-controlled visa eligibility certificate issued by a J-1 program sponsor (such as Rutgers University) to an individual who will apply for a J-1 visa abroad, for a change of status to J-1 within the U.S., or for a transfer of J-1 sponsorship from one J-1 program to another. Each DS-2019 has a SEVIS ID number on it to connect the form and the J-1 student or scholar to a record in the SEVIS database. The DS-2019 serves as a primary record of a J-1 exchange visitor's immigration-related actions, such as extensions and transfers. J-1 visitors should retain all DS-2019s ever issued to maintain a comprehensive history/record of their J-1 status.

H-1B Visa Classification/H-1B Nonimmigrant Status
USCIS has designated the H-1B classification for "specialty occupation" employment. At Rutgers, the H-1B is used for certain full-time faculty positions. As the H-1B requires employer sponsorship, once the USCIS approves an employer's H-1B petition for a nonimmigrant worker, that individual is restricted to both the specific employer and the specific job named in the approved H-1B petition.

The dependent spouse and unmarried minor children of an H-1B "specialty worker" have this immigration classification. H-4s are permitted to enroll as full-time students but are not permitted to be employed in any way while holding H-4 status.

I-797 (H-1B Approval Notice)
The I-797 is a multi-purpose form issued by the USCIS to acknowledge receipt and approval or denial of applications for various nonimmigrant statuses. I-797s issued for the purpose of approving an H-1B petition are sent to the employer that filed the petition and are retained by that employer. Rutgers'-sponsored H-1B employees need to borrow this I-797 from the Center for Global Services each time they travel abroad, and must return the I-797 to the Center after returning to the U.S.

EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
A laminated card issued by the DHS as proof of valid employment authorization for certain nonimmigrants, including F-1 students and J-2 dependents, in some cases. The EAD bears a photo of the employment-authorized individual and indicates the start and end dates of employment authorization, the type of work authorized and, in some cases, whether the authorization is for full-time or part-time employment.