Immigration Documents & Terminology
Immigration Documents & Terminology
As an international student in the United States, you should become familiar with some basic immigration terms:
Alien - any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States
Duration of Status (D/S) - authorized period of stay for most F-1 students, as indicated on the I-94. "Duration of status" means that you may remain in the U.S. as long as you are fulfilling all the requirements of your status (see Maintaining Valid F-1 Status).
F-1 status - granted to students engaged in an academic program or authorized practical training at an accredited U.S. university or institution
I-20 - a form issued to a nonimmigrant student by an approved educational institution through the SEVIS government database which shows a student's biographical information, their current academic program, duration of study, and financial information. The form must be taken to the U.S. embassy or consulate when applying for an F-1 (student) visa, and it must be kept valid with your current academic status throughout your stay in the U.S. The main requirements of the F-1 visa status are printed on page 2.
I-94 - the Arrival/Departure Record placed in your passport by the immigration official at the port of entry. The I-94 is a small white card which shows your nonimmigrant category as well as your authorized length of stay. The I-94 has an admission number that the immigration officer will use to keep track of your entries and exits. Every time you leave the U.S., you must return the I-94 form to the immigration officer. Upon your re-entry, you will receive a new one. Exception: you may generally keep your current I-94 form when you travel to Canada, Mexico, or certain adjacent islands for 30 days or less. However, it is always advisable to discuss your plans with the Director of International Student Services and verify this at the border.
Lawful permanent resident - a noncitizen who is admitted to the United States to reside permanently - also known as a "green card" holder.
Nonimmigrant - a noncitizen admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program for a specified temporary purpose and time period. Common examples are tourists and students.
Passport - an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the time of your authorized stay in the United States. If your passport expires while you are in the United States, it is usually possible to renew it by sending materials or visiting your home country's embassy/consulate in the U.S. For instructions and guidelines, contact your country's embassy or consulate.
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) - a web-based government system which tracks and records information about F-1 students, exchange visitors (J-1), and their dependents. SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information via the Internet to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State.
U.S. citizen - an individual who is born to the United States or attains U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to a U.S. citizen parents, naturalization, or derivation of citizenship following his/her parents' naturalization.
Visa - a visa is a permit for a person to apply to enter the United States. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is responsible for visa adjudication at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. The visa does not guarantee your entry to the U.S. It simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. consular officer abroad, and that the officer has determined you are eligible to travel to the port of entry, where you may apply for entry to the U.S. in a certain classification. Most non-immigrants at Walsh University are F-1 (student) visa holders. Canadian citizens are exempt from the F-1 visa requirement, but they must still apply for F-1 visa status at the port of entry.
Visa validity - the period during which the visa holder may travel to a port of entry in the United States to request permission to enter the U.S. The period of visa validity is shown on the visa (date of issuance through the date of expiration). Depending on the alien's nationality, the visa may be issued for one entry to multiple (unlimited) entries. Even if your visa is valid, the border official can always decide whether or not to admit you to the U.S. and in which immigration status.