Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


The following glossary provides definitions for common immigration terms used by the Office of International Services.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Academic Training (AT): work, training, or experience related to a J-1 student’s field of study.

ARO: Alternate responsible officer for an exchange visitor program, an individual authorized to conduct business with the department of state on behalf of the program sponsor and authorized to sign an DS-2019.



B-1/B-2: These are visitors for business and tourism, respectively.  They may not register for classes.



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.

Change of Status: an application is made to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  to change current non-immigrant status in the United States.



Department of Labor (DOL): The Executive Branch Department with jurisdiction over working conditions.


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.

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

DS-2019: A government-controlled visa eligibility certificate issued by a J-1 program sponsor (such as MIIS) 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.

Duration of Status D/S: D/S is recorded on I-94 and I-20 or DS-2019vby the US immigration inspector at port-of-entry.  D/S is an abbreviation used by DHS for "Duration of Status." This means that F-1 and J-1 students are admitted to the United States for as long as they are full-time students complying with all immigration 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.  ONLY those with F-1/F-2 and J-1/J-2 nonimmigrant status are given duration of status



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.

Exchange Visitor Program (J-1): An alien coming temporarily to the United States as a participant in a program approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training.



F-1 Visa Classification / F-1 Nonimmigrant Status: Most international students at MIIS 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).

F-2: 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.




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.

H-4: 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-20: this document is issued by MIIS 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 program of study.

I-797 (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.

I-94 Form: The I-94 Form (also known as the arrival/departure record) is a small white card that is issued at the visitor's port of entry to the U.S. by a CBP officer and is usually stapled by the officer into the visitor's passport. The I-94 Form indicates the immigration status in which the visitor most recently entered the U.S. It is removed from the visitor's passport when he or she leaves the U.S. The I-94 is the only document that verifies a nonimmigrant's legal entry to the U.S., including the date of arrival, the classification of the individual (e.g., F-1, J-1, etc.), and the time allowed to remain in the United States. It is the I-94 form, not the visa stamp, that indicates how long someone may remain in the U.S. legally.

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement): The bureau within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for the SEVIS database, and for intelligence and investigations related to nonimmigrants in the U.S.



J-1: There are many J-1 "categories," but MIIS 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.

J-2: 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.






Nonimmigrant: An individual who has been admitted by the USCIS for a specific purpose for a definite period of time.




Passport: a passport is issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder.  Your passport should be valid during your entire stay in the U.S.  In addition, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond entry to the U.S.

PDSO Primary designated School Officer: Highest level of authority among school officials and authorized to sign an I-20.

Permanent Resident (or immigrant): Permanent Resident refers to a person (not U.S. citizen) in the U.S. who  has Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) which grants immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the USA without an end date typical of a non-immigrant visa holder.  The Permanent Resident is often considered a "green card" holder.

Practical Training: A period of work authorization granted subsequent to an F-1 student's completing a degree program. There are two types of practical training: Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training




RO: Responsible Officer for an Exchange Visitor Program. Highest level of authority among school officers, authorized to conduct business with the Department of State on behalf of the program sponsor and authorized to sign an DS-2019.



SEVIS: SEVIS is a web-based system which maintains information on  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 DHS regulations requiring schools to regularly provide and update SEVIS data on its F and J students and scholars.

SEVIS ID Number: 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. These numbers appear in the upper-right area of visa eligibility certificates (DS-2019 forms for J visa holders; I-20 forms for F visa holders). 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.

Status: Upon entry to the United States, all nonimmigrants are given an immigration 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 MIIS 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.



Two-Year Home Residency Rule: This is a restriction applied to certain J-1 exchange visitors who meet conditions defined by the State Department. The conditions have to do with funding, country of origin or type of activity undertaken while in J-1 status, and the restriction prevents these visitors from changing status with in the  US. 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.


Underenrollment: Underenrollment is taking less than the required 12 units to maintain full-time status.

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
The bureau within the DHS responsible for adjudication of applications for benefits filed by nonimmigrants. Students will apply to USCIS for work authorization when applying for Optional Practical Training, or if changing status to H-1b status.




Visa: A U.S. visa is a consulate-issued stamp in a foreign national's passport that serves only as an application 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 given an I-94 Form (see below) at a U.S. port of entry. It is the I-94 Form given at the port of entry which 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. 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.