Common Immigration Terms

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SEVIS Form I-20 for F-1 Students 

This “Certificate of Eligibility” is issued to students when they are accepted to study at a college / university in the United States. It is presented to the U.S. Consulate for obtaining an F-1 visa and to immigration officers at the port of entry upon arrival in the U.S.  The officer will stamp the form with a red entry stamp when you enter.  Once you enter the United States, you are required by law to provide OISS with a copy of this endorsed form I-20, your I-94 and F-1 visa stamp for our records. 

SEVIS Form DS-2019 for J-1 Students 

The “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” is the document issued to students on an exchange program, or to students with special sponsorship after they have been accepted to study at a U.S. college or university.  It is presented to the U.S. Consulate for obtaining a J-1 visa and to immigration officers at the port of entry arrival to the U.S.  The officer will stamp the form with a red entry stamp when you enter.  Keep it with your passport at all times.  Once you enter the United States,  you are required by law to provide OISS with a copy of this  endorsed form DS-2019, your I-94 and J-1 visa stamp for our records. 

I-94 (Arrival / Departure Record)

US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) instituted a new automated I-94 process as of April 30, 2013.  Paper form I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record) will no longer be issued at the ports of entry.  The new process entails:

  • Entry stamp in passport, notating date of entry, visa classification and expiration date (D/S, if F-1, J-1 and M-1)
  • I-94 information can be retrieved online using I-94 Number Retrieval.

If you are applying for a driver’s license from the Department of Motor and Vehicles (DMV) or a social security card from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must retrieve your I-94 information and submit along with other documents required (i.e., I-20/DS-2019, visa, passport, etc.) as part of the legal presence documents.

For more information, please visit USCBP.

F-1 Visa/ J-1 Visa 

The F-1 or J-1 Student Visa, which is placed in your passport by an American consulate or embassy in your home country, enables you to enter the United States. It may be valid for up to five years, and for multiple entries into the U.S. The visa is used only to enter the US and should not be confused with the length of time you are allowed to remain in the United States. The visa DOES NOT have to remain valid once you have entered the U.S. if you are otherwise maintaining your full-time status.  However, your visa must be valid if you plan to leave and re-enter the U.S.  F-1 and J-1 visas may be issued only outside the United States at an US embassy or consulate.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

A web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States. SEVIS is administered by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).