A USCIS form

A USCIS form is used to report a change of address. For F-1 students, an easier way to report a change of address is simply to enter the change in the student’s personal information in the SEVIS record. A change of address must be reported within 10 days.

CPT Curricular Practical Training

CPT Curricular Practical Training is an internship or other form of practical training that is integral to the student’s academic program.

CBP Customs and Border Patrol

CBP Customs and Border Patrol are the officers in authority at a port of entry to the U.S.

DHS Department of Homeland Security

DHS Department of Homeland Security, of which USCIS and ICE are a part.

DMV Department of Motor Vehicles

DMV Department of Motor Vehicles is the Pennsylvania state agency responsible for the issuance of drivers licenses. Special laws apply to internationals requesting drivers licenses.

DOS Department of State

DOS Department of State is responsible for issuing visas to non-immigrants entering the U.S.

D/S Duration of Status

D/S Duration of Status: A notation on the I-94 of the F-1 visa holder. This means the visa-holder may remain in the U.S. for as long as he or she is “in status”, that is, as long as he or she is enrolled as a full-time student or authorized for OPT.

DSO Designated School Official

DSO Designated School Official is responsible for maintaining school policies regarding USCIS regulations. The DSO has an authorized signature for the I-20. Also referred to as the International Student Adviser.

EAD Employment Authorization Document

EAD Employment Authorization Document, also referred to as a work permit.


ESL means English as Second Language.


F-1 is the student visa.


F-2 designates the dependent spouse or child of an F-1 visa holder.

I-20 A form

I-20 A form used to denote F-1 student status. The I-20 is adjusted to reflect various changes in a student’s tenure, such as a CPT authorization, extension of program or change in major. Employment authorizations are noted on the third page of the I-20.

I-94 An entry/departure record

An entry and department record bearing the date of entry into the U.S. and a notation as to how long a non-immigrant can stay legally in the U.S. Obtain the I-94.

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the government agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws. SEVP is a division of ICE.

IELTS An English proficiency test

IELTS An English proficiency test, similar to the TOEFL, but geared more toward British English rather than American English.

Illegal Presence

A period of time a person spends in the U.S. without valid immigration documents, or that a student spends out of status. Days of illegal presence accrue, and certain bars to re-entering the U.S. are based on the number of days accrued.

IRS Internal Revenue Service

IRS Internal Revenue Service is the tax-collecting agency of the U.S.

ISC International Students’ Club

ISC International Students’ Club is a student group on the St. David’s campus. Palmer Seminary refers to their campus group as the ISF (International Student Fellowship).

ISO International Student Orientation

ISO International Student Orientation is offered for new international students twice a year.

ISS International Student Services

ISS International Student Services is the office within the Student Development department that provides services specific to F-1 students.

ITIN Individual Tax Identification Number

ITIN Individual Tax Identification Number is an alternative to the Social Security Number (SSN) for the purpose of filing taxes. The SSN is no longer available to non-immigrant visa holders unless they also have employment authorization.


The process for creating legally binding documents, such as a financial affidavit. In the U.S., this is accomplished by the seal of a notary public.

OPT Optional Practical Training

OPT Optional Practical Training is a form of practical training not required by a student’s academic program, but related to the course of study. OPT is usually done in the 12 months following graduation. OPT authorization appears on the third page of the I-20 as a work permit.

Out of Status

Out of Status means that the F-1 student has violated the terms of his or her visa, most often by failing to enroll full-time in consecutive terms, or by working illegally. If a student is out of status, he or she must either leave the U.S. or apply for reinstatement.

PAIEN Philadelphia Area International Educator’s Network

PAIEN Philadelphia Area International Educator’s Network meets monthly in Philadelphia.

POE Port of Entry

POE Port of Entry is an airport or border crossing where internationals first enter the U.S.

PTS Palmer Theological Seminary

PTS Palmer Theological Seminary, the Seminary of Eastern University.


Reinstatement is a process of regaining F-1 status in order to continue full-time studies.

SEVIS Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

SEVIS Student and Exchange Visitor Information System is a internet database used by ICE to track the status of international students. The university maintains student records in and prints out I-20s from this database.

SEVP Student and Exchange Visitor Program

SEVP Student and Exchange Visitor Program is a division of ICE responsible for enforcing immigration regulations concerning F, J and M visas. SEVP runs the SEVIS database.

SSA Social Security Administration

SSA Social Security Administration is the government agency responsible for the retirement pensions of workers. Employers regularly deduct social security wages from worker’s paychecks, which are banked until such time as the worker retires.

SSN Social Security Number

SSN Social Security Number is a number assigned to a worker by SSA, and used for tax reporting purposes and to record a consumer’s credit history.


Sponsor is an individual or organization providing financial support to a student.


TOEFL is a Test of English as a Foreign Language. A test that determines English proficiency.

USCIS United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency responsible for immigration services and regulations. Formerly known as INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services).

Vermont Service Center

Vermont Service Center is the USCIS service center with jurisdiction over Pennsylvania where most F-1 student documents are adjudicated.


Visa is a document issued by the U.S. Department of State, granting permission for a non-citizen to enter the U.S. Usually a stamp inserted in the passport. If a student leaves the U.S., he or she can’t re-enter without a valid visa.