Immigration Terms

F-1 Student - A visa classification for a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a “full course of study” to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the United States that has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to offer courses of study to such students, and has been enrolled in SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The F-1 student is expected by the U.S. government to return to his or her residence abroad once the program is completed. A student acquires F-1 status using Form I-20, issued by the school through SEVIS.

J-1 Student - A visa classification for a nonimmigrant who is admitted to a degree program at an “accredited educational institution” for a “full course of study” or is engaged full-time in a non-degree “prescribed course of study.”  Certain criteria must be met to qualify for J-1 Student status. A student acquires J-1 Student status using Form DS-2019, issued by the school through SEVIS.

J-1 Scholar - Typically, nonimmigrants having academic appointments as visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows/associates, research associates, and other temporary academic appointments. A scholar acquires J-1 status using Form DS-2019, issued by the school through SEVIS.

J-1 Intern - A visa classification for a nonimmigrant student who is currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a postsecondary academic institution outside the U.S. and whose U.S. internship will fulfill the educational objectives for his or her current degree program. Certain criteria must be met to qualify for J-1 Intern status. See our J-1 Intern Request Form pdf for more information.

H-1B Employees - A visa classification for “temporary workers” in “specialty occupations.”  Petitions for H-1B status are submitted by the employer to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.

Specialty Occupation -  For H-1B purposes, a specialty occupation is an occupation that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge" and the "attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

Visa - A visa is a stamp placed in the passport by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. It is the permission to apply for (re)entry into the United States. As long as you remain in the U.S., it does not matter if the visa stamp has expired. There are many different kinds of visas which correspond to immigration statuses.

DS-2019 - a piece of paper called a Certificate of Eligibility. It is used to obtain a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.

I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) - The small white card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Officers upon entry to the U.S.  It is normally stapled in your passport on the page opposite your visa. The I-94 is your permit to stay in the U.S. and either has a date of expiration or is valid for the Duration of Status, D/S. As of April 30th, 2013, CBP is transitioning to an electronic I-94. Learn more.

Duration of Status (D/S) - A Student or Exchange Visitor's permission to stay in the U.S. is defined as "Duration of Status". It appears on the I-94 card as D/S and relates to the expected date of program completion (item #3 on the DS-2019 or #5 on the I-20). J-1 Exchange Visitors and F-1 Students must file for an extension of program at least 2 months before this date.