Immigration Vocabulary and Acronyms

This information is provided so academic units can be knowledgeable when students, scholars, and employees are discussing the impact of immigration requirements on their academic program, appointment, or employment. ISSA is the only office on campus that should be advising students and scholars on immigration related matters.

We have included vocabulary and acronyms related to:

  • U.S. Government Agencies University Credentials
  • Visa Applications
  • F-1 and J-1 Record/Status
  • F-1 and J-1 Work Authorization Employment
  • Other Forms & Vocabulary
  • Notre Dame specific vocabulary
U.S. Government Agencies

DHS- Department of Homeland Security - federal executive department responsible for the security of the United States. The department's work includes customs, border, and immigration enforcement.

SEVP - Student and Exchange Visitor Program* - DHS program that oversees SEVIS and issuance of I-20’s for F-1 Students

USCIS - United States Citizenship and Immigration Services*- an agency of DHS that is responsible for processing and adjudicating various immigration matters including F-1 work authorization, work visas, and citizenship petitions.

CBP - Customs and Border Protection* - DHS law enforcement agency responsible for administering the lawful movement of people and goods across the land, air, and sea borders of the United States.

ICE - Immigration and Customs Enforcement* - DHS law enforcement agency responsible for investigating and preventing illegal presence and activity of non-U.S. citizens in the U.S.

DOS - Department of State - issues eligibility documents and visas for individuals entering the U.S. on a J visa. This department oversees the embassies and consulates which issue the visas for all students/scholars.

DOL - Department of Labor - responsible for the administration of federal laws governing occupational safety and health, wage and hour standards, unemployment benefits, reemployment services, and occasionally, economic statistics.

*= Components of Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

University Credentials

DSO - Designated School Official - University staff authorized by DHS to maintain the SEVIS records of F-1 Students and their F-2 dependents. PDSO is the Primary Designated School Official *The authorized staff are in the ISSA Office only*

RO/ARO - Responsible Officer/Alternate Responsible Officer - University staff authorized by DHS to maintain the SEVIS records of J-1 Students, Scholars, and Interns and their J-2 dependents.  *The authorized staff are in the ISSA Office only*

Signatory Authority - legal authority delegated to specific positions within the University to execute contracts or other documents on behalf of the University. The ISSA Director has signatory authority to sign employment-based immigration petitions.

F-1 Student & J-1 Exchange Visitor Visas - Terms and Forms

  F-1 Visa J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa


Form I-20 Form DS-2019
University official Designated School Official (PDSO/DSO) Responsible Officer (RO/ARO)

Off campus work authorization

OPT / STEM OPT / CPT Academic Training
Off campus work authorization form/document Form I-765, EAD card, I-20 with APPROVED request DS-2019 with AT authorization
On campus work authorization  None needed during academic program On Campus Work Authorization from ISSA
Categories F-1 Student

Students: Doctorate, Masters, Bachelor's, Non-degree Student - Enrolled

Scholars: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, Non-degree student - Research only

Other    212 (e) Two Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement
Visa Applications

Form DS-160 - Online application for a nonimmigrant visa; results in a visit to a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Visa stamp - physical stamp in passport that is issued by the Department of State and allows a visa holder to present at the U.S. Port of Entry; the stamp does not guarantee entry into the U.S. Canadian citizens do not need a physical stamp in their passport to present themselves at the U.S. port of entry.

  • J-1 Exchange Visitor - students and scholars
  • F-1 Student Visa - students only
  • B1/B2 - visitor visa

I-94 Record - Record of most recent admission to the United States indicating both ‘Class’ (i.e. F-1 or J-1) and ‘Admit Until’ (i.e. duration of status, ‘D/S’). It is accessed digitally from the CBP website and corrected through CBP Deferred Inspection.

F-1 and J-1 Record/Status

Immigration Status - refers to the duration and purpose of an individual’s presence in the U.S. Some examples are F-1 or J-1 student, F-2 or J-2 dependent, H-1B Temporary Worker, B-1/B2 visitor.

SEVIS - Student & Exchange Visitor Information System - database used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) to monitor students and scholars in F and J status.

SEVIS Number - Individual F-1 or J-1 identification found near the top of the Form I-20 and Form DS-2019; begins with the letter ‘N’ followed by ten numbers.

I-20 - Certificate of Eligibility for (F-1) Nonimmigrant Student Status - document issued by a university certifying a student is admitted to a Notre Dame program and eligible for a visa. This form is used to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate, and it establishes a student’s F-1 status in the U.S. during their program.

DS-2019 - Certificate of Eligibility for (J-1) Exchange Visitor Status - issued by DOS-designated program sponsor/university certifying a student or scholar’s admission into a program has been accepted . This form is used to apply for a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa in one of several categories, like Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, and J-1 Non-degree Student.

F-1 and J-1 Work Authorization

CPT - F-1 Curricular Practical Training - is an option for off campus employment authorization; it requires that the student is still enrolled full time in coursework and that the employment fulfills degree requirements as part of "an integral part of an established curriculum.”

OPT - F-1 Optional Practical Training - 12-months of off campus employment authorization for F-1 students who completed degree requirements. Employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study. *Current fee: $410. Students need an I-20 with OPT recommendation from ISSA, but OPT is authorized by USCIS.

STEM OPT Extension - Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Optional Practical Training Extension - 24-month extension of off campus work authorization for students who graduated from a U.S. institution with a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). *Current fee to apply is $410. Students need an I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSA, but STEM OPT is authorized by USCIS. Apply while in 12 month OPT authorization period.

EAD - Employment Authorization Document - a work authorization document issued by USCIS that verifies an individual is authorized to work in the United States for a specific period of time. F-1 students must have this in hand and have reached the start date on the card while on OPT and STEM OPT

AT - Academic Training - J-1 off campus employment authorization defined as work, training, or experience that is directly related to the student's major field of study listed on their DS-2019. Up to 36 months based on major and education level; may be used before or after program completion. *The student’s academic Advisor must approve AT, but AT is authorized by ISSA.

On-Campus Employment Authorization - required for all J-1 students, includes fellowships, scholarships, and grants, while enrolled full-time at the University; must be obtained from ISSA PRIOR to beginning employment. F-1 students do not require on campus work authorization when enrolled full-time.

Form I-765 - (Application for Employment Authorization) - used to request employment authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students with an F-1 visa will apply for OPT and STEM OPT work authorization.

Form I-983 - (Training plan for STEM OPT students) - The formal training plan must clearly articulate the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment to helping the student achieve those objectives. 

Other Forms and Vocabulary

Form I-129 - Petitioners, like the University, use this form to file on behalf of a nonimmigrant worker to come to the United States temporarily to perform services or labor. Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) - attestation by the employer about the wages and working conditions related to a given employee. It is required as part of the H-1B petition process.  

Non-Immigrant - A person with permanent residence outside the U.S. who is in the U.S. on a temporary basis for the purpose of tourism, business, temporary work, study, medical treatment, etc.

I-9 - (Employment Eligibility Verification) certifies work eligibility in the U.S.

Form I-797 - Notice of Action - issued by USCIS when an application or petition is approved.

SSN - (Social Security Number) - tax ID number that is issued only to individuals who are being paid by a U.S. institution; issued by the Social Security Administration.

I-539 - (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) - form is to apply for an extension of stay or a change from one nonimmigrant category to another nonimmigrant category while in the U.S. *ISSA does not generally advise on the I-539 application process; we recommend that students and scholars consult with an experienced immigration attorney when considering a change of status in the U.S. The I-539 should not be used to extend an F or J program.

212 (e) - Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement - Some J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents are subject to the 212(e) rule . To fulfill this requirement, the exchange visitor must be physically present in their country of nationality or last legal permanent residence for a cumulative two years after their program ends. *The ISSA office does not make the determination of who is or is not subject to this rule. The consular officer makes a relevant indication on the visa stamp. Being subject to the 212(e) is based on government funding received or The Exchange Visitors Skills List.*

Notre Dame Vocabulary

Scholars - all visitors, researchers, faculty, and employees who are visiting the University with an immigration status, including Notre Dame sponsored J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, and Permanent Residents

IRF - Immigration Request Form - form to request recommendation for appropriate immigration status for scholar visit and initiate Notre Dame appointment process; recommendations are based on the scholar’s program dates, primary purpose of visit, and funding

ISSAlink - data management system for Notre Dame sponsored students and J-1 scholars