Key Terms & Definitions

This section explains actors, requirements, benefits, and other concepts relevant for international students, faculty, staff, and researchers whose affiliation with Georgetown University is the basis of their legal status in the United States. Please speak with your program’s dedicated IS Advisor for more detail.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Cabinet-level department responsible for the regulation, monitoring, and enforcement of restrictions on the presence and activity of non-U.S. citizens in the United States.

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): DHS agency responsible for adjudicating requests for immigration benefits, such as status petitions and employment authorization applications. 
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP): 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.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): DHS law enforcement agency responsible for investigating and preventing illegal presence and activity of non-U.S. citizens in the United States.
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP): DHS program that manages the certification and oversight of schools that bring non-U.S. citizens to the United States for academic purposes as F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Visitors. SEVP operates the SEVIS database in which University officials maintain institutional and individual immigration records. 

Department of Labor (DoL): USCIS relies on DoL to ensure that the temporary or permanent hiring of non-U.S. citizens will not harm the interests of U.S. workers.

Department of State (DoS): Operates the consular missions abroad where non-U.S. citizens apply for entry visas and designates U.S. institutions to carry out the objectives of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Alien: U.S. government descriptor for person who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).

Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO): University staff authorized by DHS to maintain the SEVIS records of J-1 Students, Scholars, and Interns and their J-2 dependents. The Responsible Officer (RO) oversees the University’s administration of the DoS Exchange Visitor Program. 

Dependent: The lawful spouse and/or unmarried minor child (under age 21) of a nonimmigrant. A dependent child is either a biological or adopted child under the age of 21.

Designated School Official (DSO): University staff authorized by DHS to maintain the SEVIS records of F-1 Students and their F-2 dependents. The Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) manages the University’s SEVP Certification (Form I-17) and directs the compliance and cultural advising of F-1 Students.

Nonimmigrant: Non-U.S. citizen who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose (i.e. transit, tourism, study, employment, etc.). Most nonimmigrants must prove permanent residence abroad in order to demonstrate they do not have ‘immigrant intent

E-3: Status for Australian nationals with specialized skills and higher education working in the U.S. in a job related to their expertise.

F-1 Student: Temporary status for participating in an SEVP-approved full-time course of study.  

F-2 dependent: Derivative status for the lawful spouse and/or unmarried child (under age 21) of an F-1 Student. 

J-1 Exchange Visitor: Temporary status for Students, Scholars, and Interns participating in DoS-designated programs. Subject to additional vetting and reporting requirements as part of special DoS oversight and care.

J-2 dependent: Derivative status for the lawful spouse and/or unmarried child (under age 21) of a J-1 Exchange Visitor.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR): Indefinite permission to live and work in the United States indefinitely. LPRs are also known as Green Card holders or immigrants.

O-1: Temporary employment-based status for persons with widely-recognized achievement in science, art, education, business, or athletics. 

Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Discretionary status designated by DHS Secretary for nationals of countries with unsafe or untenable conditions for return. 

TN: Temporary employment-based status for Canadians and Mexicans with a job offer in an eligible profession.

Undocumented: Students without lawful status in the United States are supported by the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access and other campus partners. 

Form DS-160: Online application for a nonimmigrant visa; results in a visit to a U.S. consular mission.

Form DS-2019: Certificate of Eligibility for (J-1) Exchange Visitor Status issued by DoS-designated program sponsor. The form is used to apply for a J-1 EV visa at a U.S. consular mission. Georgetown’s approved EV categories include Students, Scholars, and Interns.

Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for (F-1) Nonimmigrant Student Status issued by DHS-certified school. The form is used to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consular mission.

Form I-515A: Notice issued by CBP to a Student or Exchange Visitor who arrives at a port of entry without all required documentation. The form grants temporary admission to the United States, allowing 30 days to submit the missing documentation in order to extend the duration of status. Form I-515A is not a guaranteed outcome; instead, CBP may deny admission. 

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

SEVIS I-901 Fee: Used to collect the SEVIS Fee from all nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors.

Visa stamp: Issued by a DoS consular officer in a foreign passport or travel document. Used (along with other documents) to apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry. Students may remain in the United States beyond expiration date of an F-1 or J-1 visa if they still have valid status, as indicated on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

Academic Training (AT): Off-campus authorization for J-1 EV Students to participate in paid or unpaid opportunities directly related to their field of study. May be used both during the academic program and/or to extend status after the completion of coursework.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): F-1 off-campus authorization for both paid and unpaid opportunities directly related to the student’s major field of study and integral to the academic curriculum.

E-Verify: U.S. government online tool used to establish the employment eligibility of new hires. U.S. employers enroll voluntarily.

Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification Form used to establish the identity and work authorization of a new employee. Required of both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens..

Optional Practical Training (OPT): F-1 off-campus authorization issued by USCIS. May be used both during the academic program and/or to extend status after the completion of degree requirements. Allows both paid and unpaid opportunities directly related to the student’s major field of study. One year of OPT is available at each new degree level.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM): F-1 students with a U.S. degree in a DHS-approved STEM field are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of Post-Completion OPT from USCIS.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA): The FICA tax consists of both Social Security and Medicare taxes. Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid both by the employees and the employer. 

Form 1042S: A tax reporting document for those (1) paid by Georgetown and claimed tax treaty benefits, or (2) who received fellowship/scholarship income to cover living expenses.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): U.S. government tax collection agency. 

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): Issued by the IRS to non-U.S. citizens who are ineligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). 

Social Security Number (SSN): Personal tax identification required for non-U.S.citizens who secure paid employment in the United States.

U.S. Source Income: Wages, stipends, honoraria, and any other earnings. Scholarships only count as source income if disbursed in excess of the cost of tuition, fees, and books.

Form W-2: Annual wage and tax statement issued by employers to employees at the beginning of each year; used to file a personal tax return.

212(e): Some J-1 Exchange Visitors and J-2 dependents are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement detailed in this section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which they must satisfy prior to seeking a more advanced status in the United States. The type of funding support and/or the EV field of study are the most common determinants of 212(e). The consular officer makes a relevant indication on the visa stamp. 
Duration of Status (D/S): CBP Notation stamped in passport and reflected on I-94 indicating that F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrants and their dependents may remain in the United States indefinitely as long as their status is valid.
Form DS-7002: Training/Internship Placement Plan (T/IPP) required for J-1 Exchange Visitors in the Intern category.
SEVIS (Student & Exchange Visitor Information System): DHS database used for oversight and maintenance of institutional and individual nonimmigrant information.
SEVIS I-901 Fee: A fee mandated by Congress; required for all F-1 and J-1 international students and exchange visitors and used to fund SEVP and SEVIS.
SEVIS ID 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.e. N0011111100).
Status: The terms and conditions of a non-U.S. citizen’s presence in the United States. Contingent upon multiple factors; often described by concrete indicators (such as SEVIS), yet sometimes affected by behaviors that may not be immediately recorded (such as unauthorized employment).